I have a good friend of mine who runs an eCommerce company who owns several negative brand URLs relating to her brand. A negative brand URL is one like www.________Sucks.com or www._______IsEvil.com.
Many large companies, including Xerox and Dell Computer, spend countless hours and thousands of dollars buying negative brand URLs. But you know what? Most marketing directors have way too much on their plate to be spending time trying to snatch up every .com, .org, .biz, etc. with their brand name on it.
Quite frankly, there’s a better approach. And that is to embrace the people visiting the site and listen to their concerns. If you can change 1 out of every 5 people’s opinion on the negative site, you’ll have created an army of people who will tell others, “I used to hate ________. But they listened to me, acted on my issues and fixed my problem. Now I’m a huge fan of _________.”
To be sure, that’ll be labor intensive, too. But as as the protector of your brand, you have two choices:
1) Try to squash dissent by buying up all the negative URLs, which will be impossible;
2) Embrace the dissenters and try to convert 1 out of 5 from brand haters to brand lovers.
It’s a challenge, and it won’t be easy. But it’s the best solution out there and I’d encourage all marketing directors to explore this option.