What if a competitor decides to use your brand name to generate leads? You wouldn’t be pleased. Yet, in the online world, it happens all the time. And here’s what you can do about it.
When marketing to today’s consumers, your name and your brand mean everything. And home improvement is no exception. Through your advertising and marketing, you’ve likely made a major investment in your company’s name.
So, what if a competitor decides to use your brand name to market his company and generate leads? You wouldn’t be pleased. Yet, in the online world, it happens all the time. And here’s what you can do about it.
In the results below, I typed in the term “Bath Fitter”. As you’d expect, Bath Fitter comes up first in the paid search listings, and first in the organic search listings:
But notice the paid listing on the bottom right. A competitor who is neither Bath Fitter or a Bath Fitter franchisee is apparently using the Bath Fitter name in the title of the ad.
Is this a big deal? Potentially yes. Many homeowners looking for a solution to a home improvement problem first search on the brands they know. They then skip around the listings that display and check many of them out. Seeing the name of the brand name they searched right in the headline of the ad will naturally attract their attention.
In short, if you’re Bath Fitter or a Bath Fitter franchisee, you don’t want your investment in your brand to potentially enrich your competition online.
So what can you do?
First, solidify your trademark. Common usage, a.k.a. ‘usage over time’, is often not enough for Google and other search engines. A registered trademark is strongest, and will ultimately prove legally compelling with the search engines.
Next, take a screen snap of search results that demonstrates how the scofflaw is inappropriately using your trademark.
Then, contact Google and explain that a competitor is using your trademark. You can start the process by completing a simple form.
Finally, don’t expect instant results. My experience has been that Google will respond within 1-2 weeks. If you’re lucky, it will only take a couple of days from that point.
I’ve been through this process with Google before, and can tell you that Google is reasonable to deal with in these trademark complaint cases. The process is even more straightforward when you can document your trademark, as I described above. It can also involve some back and forth between you and Google, but I have found that they make good decisions.
Once Google recognizes your trademark, what happens then? Like magic, the offending ads disappear.
Is this the only step you need to take to protect your brand? Absolutely not. But protecting your brand in the search engines is a great first step!