“If you don’t park it, it could be gone tomorrow.”

That’s coming from Laurel Mintz, CEO of Elevate My Brand, talking about how crucial it is to reserve your brand name wherever possible, as soon as possible. She speaks from experience: Mintz had that happen with clients who have a great brand name, but not parking the right real estate led to the brand having different social handles across their social channels. “Even thought it’s not the intent of the brand, it makes a brand look disjointed and like it didn’t have the forethought to park the brand name on the appropriate social channels,” Mintz explains.

“In this day and age where consumers make split second decisions, having brand consistency over different social channels can mean the difference between a bounce and a conversion.”

Why Protecting Intellectual Property is Critical

To Melanie Deziel, content strategist and Overlap League founder, “the most obvious benefit of reserving your handles and usernames is that nobody is able to swoop in and steal them before you do, giving you first choice of your usernames and the best shot at a cohesive online presence. Having your pick allows you to make strategic choices and create a consistent brand that lives across platforms, so you’re easily found and recognized.”


Mathew Capala, founder of data-first search marketing agency Alphametic, calls protecting your digital IP “the most important consideration when building a brand.” Capala recommends to secure your online brand assets at the outset, including .com domain, other relevant domain extensions, “and all social media accounts.” You don’t necessarily need to build multiple websites, redirect domains, or put out content on every social channel on day one. What’s important is that you acquire your brand assets cost-effectively and prevent getting “brand hijacked” in the future.

Noted strategist Minter Dial believes that nothing is more frustrating than having your brand name hijacked by some other entity. He recommends using a useful service like Namechk, which will help you search for an available username or domain to secure your brand across the internet. Capala recommends KnowEm for the same reason: “once you launch your brand, acquiring your assets may prove more difficult and much more costly.”

Even an expert like Deziel isn’t perfect with respect to protecting their own intellectual property. She readily admits the mistake of holding off too long to join Instagram. The result? Now she has @meldeziel as her username there, as opposed to the @mdeziel she consistently holds on all other platforms. This might be what we refer to as a “first-world problem” when referring to a personality, but for a $300 million brand, inconsistency can actually be rather costly.

Furthermore, parking your social media usernames as early as possible prevents misidentification that can do harm to your brand, says Chris Ee, ‎Lead Digital & Social Analyst at The Marketing Arm. Whether you’re building a corporate or personal brand, you don’t want anyone sketchy reserving what should be your name and putting up pornographic content, do you? Sadly, that actually happens more than you’d imagine.

Because of that concern, when in doubt, it’s a good idea to park your real estate whenever possible. If you’re operating as Monica’s Candles, for example, you’ll want to grab monicascandles.tumblr.com, @monicascandles on Twitter and Snapchat, and so on. Identify the social channels you think you’ll be most active on, and grab your spot. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and pretty much any other digital platform worth its salt and trying to build a gigantic user base lets you create accounts for free, so there’s no excuse for not planting your flag.

Of course, if you have a somewhat generic or popular name, that might make it difficult to reserve the same account name across a myriad number of platforms. In order to prevent this, it would be a good idea to create a standardized account name that you can use without fear of being beaten to the punch.

Don’t overlook the growth of emerging platforms such as Hyper and Periscope that could possibly be the next big thing, as well as smaller platforms that could be useful for your specific niche. For example, 500px is perfect for photographers, while DeviantArt is great for artists and art enthusiasts alike. While it may seem like an issue that you can easily hold off on for a while, parking your brand’s name on newly emerging platforms prevents you from having to pry your brand away from someone else a few years down the line.

Small details matter. For instance, one way to improve your Facebook page is to set your URL to something much more user friendly. Facebook.com/BrandName is much more marketable than something like http://www.Facebook.com/pages/not-so-user-friendly/5758787367. The exact same principle applies on some other platforms, YouTube in particular.

Your username is not the only thing you need to standardize across all channels; your visuals are pretty important as well. Make sure your visual identity is consistent across all social channels that you consider to be part of your brand strategy. Bestselling author Charles Duhigg accomplishes this on his Facebook and Twitter: identical color background, identical header image, identical shot of his most recent new book, Smarter Faster Better. Duhigg even uses the same attractive headshot. All of these images are cropped and edited in accordance with each platform’s specifications, so nothing feels stretched or pixelated. Creating these singular and recognizable touches across all your social channels will help your brand look legitimate. If you’re building a brand that’s just starting out, this step is crucial to building credibility.

Parking is Just the Beginning

“A brand has to do more than just establish a Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat presence and park their IP,” stresses Augie Ray, the well-regarded Gartner analyst. “They have to know who they wish to draw, what their prospects and customers want and need in social channels, and how they will drive and measure business value. If you know that, you can know what content to develop, what investment to make, in what channels your brand must be present and how to staff your social media efforts. If you don’t know that, you’re just guessing, which is never a good business strategy.”

Building on Your Real Estate

For example, Ray elaborates, many brands thought that any Facebook fan count was all that mattered, so they used sweepstakes to “collect fans.” The problem? Many of those “fans” simply weren’t; they had no interest in the brand, or its product offering, and didn’t engage “in any meaningful way,” says Ray. “They were just sweepstakes entrants, not prospects, customers, advocates or anything else of value to the brand.”

Other brands, however, use their intellectual property to collect fans that actually matter. For example, consumers interested in the company. It might be because of the brand’s mission, its employees, or even its products and services. But Ray emphasizes that it’s what you do with the intellectual property once you park it and protect it.

The first step: protect your intellectual property. The second, crucial part of the process: start building some value.