Saturday, March 01, 2014

Relevant Best Practices – Protecting Your Brand Part 1

Protecting your brand protects your users, advertisers, personnel, strategic partners, sponsors and yourself.  If you do not take adequate steps to protect your brand, others will be able to use it against you. They may pretend to be you or one of your moderators, counterfeit pages, goods, points, cheats and coding schemes will be promoted and attributed to you, your founder(s), senior executives and spokespeople will be harassed, trolled or have their identities stolen or manipulated online, and your brand will be diluted.  

Avoiding confusion about your messaging, branding, the authority of third parties and protecting your reputation are paramount.  You will be quickly blamed if someone poses as you.  Nasty rumors will be more credible if posted online, using one of your brands. Furthermore, small news stories can become big ones if you are not watching what others are saying about you and being responsive to inquiries in the right way.

Identifying and Policing Your Brand Agents:

Your logos and your brand names define you online.  You have to control their use, make it clear when someone is authorized to use your brand or logo and in what capacity and watch what others are saying about you. There are several choices you have to make, some are easy while others involve extensive analysis on costs of design and implementation, maintenance and how those choices affect your growth, your reputation and your users.

Your Official Brand Agents:

Your spokespeople, customer service staff and your moderators are your outward facing official brand agents online.  They must be authenticated (so you know who they are), easily identified by your users and protected from others posing as them (whether they are trying to be helpful or hurtful). 

There are typically two major roles played by personnel engaged by the company to handle interactions with users. One relates to business functions while the other relates to community policing functions. In smaller and start-up networks, the roles may be combined in the handful of customer service/moderation personnel they engage. 

In larger networks, many of which outsource at least a portion of their customer service/moderation needs, companies use different terms to define those acting in online customer support and site moderation. These typically include titles such as “customer service representatives,” “monitors” and “moderators.” Sometimes, when large groups of customer service/moderation staff are engaged, the supervisors or escalation personnel are identified as “Super Mods” or “Team Leaders.”

Many companies engaged in ecommerce as well as community networks define “customer service representatives” as those who address lost passwords, online orders and shipping, warranty inquiries, etc. They reserve the term “moderators” for those who police the networks for terms of service violations and respond to abuse reports by users. This can often be helpful, as different skills may be required for different roles. In an online gaming environment, moderators are gamers and can address inquiries relating to the game itself. They may not understand shipping methods or costs or confirm credit card details. Volunteers who are experienced users can sometimes fulfill the moderator roles (subject to stringent risk management guidelines, see Parry's “Working with Volunteers”) but would never be used to process payments or handle ecommerce complaints.


Call center providers can often handle the customer service roles cost effectively, but would not be able to police the network for lewd language, terms of service violations or cybercriminal behavior. Your customer service staff needs are easy to spot, since users will quickly complain if on hold for too long or they find your customer service staff to be unresponsive. They “vote” with their dollars. 

You may find an increase in charge-backs, cancelled and un-renewed accounts and customer complaints. There are many professionals who advise on ratio of customer service personnel to purchasers, the best hours to deploy larger groups of personnel and technology tools designed to delivered customer service support more efficiently.

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