Brand hi-jacking appears to be on the rise in the US political sphere of late. Over the past year, many political candidates have used domain names as ammunition in their PR campaigns. Carly Fiorina’s (former CEO of HP) recent campaign in the US presidency race was thwarted by failing to register relevant domain names for her presidential campaign. The result? Another party purchased and registered the domain name to deliberately post disparaging comments about her past history, in particular her role in laying off approximately 30,000 Hewlitt Packard employees.

In the most recent of attacks on personal brands, US legislator for the state of Louisiana Steve Carter, has been the most recent victim. Following a failure to renew the domain before it’s expiration date, Carter’s opponent , Robert Cipriano purchased the domain and subsequently transferred the rights to an un-named party.

As it stands right now, online visitors to the website might be a little shocked by the content currently posted which essentially criticises every policy, action and legislative decision made by Carter during his time in office. The wholly unflattering content accuses him of increasing taxes, reckless spending of public finances and playing a major part in the demise of Louisiana’s state school system. In essence, the website represent an unwavering attack on Carter’s personal ‘brand’. The cases of Carly Fiorina and Steve Carter are not unique. Increasingly digital assets (domain names, social media profiles, etc…) are being harnessed as tools to damage and defame the digital presence of political opponents. Indeed, Donald Trump registered three thousand new domains this week alone, adding to his mammoth existing portfolio.

What can brand’s at large learn from these digital oversights?

Both cases listed above further reinforce the significance of domain names as valuable and powerful digital real estate in today’s online world. Brands, whether of a business or personal nature, are increasingly becoming more aware of the far reaching potentiality of digital assets like domain names and indeed intangible assets like online reputation.Such assets hold immense positive or negative potential depending on how they are used. Preparing your digital brand protection strategy has never been more important.

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