When drafting the brand investment plan these days, we recommend including leadership in terms of both "thought leaders" and "faces of the brand" and the social responsibility aspects of building the brand's reputation, the recruiting ways that employees as stakeholders affect the brand. It is not enough to have a corporate website and social media pages, because people making decisions about the company look beyond the marketing to try to get a sense of the whole organization. Recently we have seen an uptick as well in scraping, cloning, impostors and spoofing brand content and as a result we implemented broader digital monitoring for both company names and leadership names and images related to both.
As to when, we generally do the digital research at the same time a the branding exercise is going on. For example, the branding team will have research and ideas around picking a name. We will come in with the research about how that namespace looks in Google, what the competition and difficulty levels will be to create a significant digital presence, and what has already been acquired by unrelated others in terms of the brand and a domain name and social media handles. This information is given back to the decision making team as part of the due diligence. Once the name is chosen, then we claim all the "digital assets" and work with the branding and communications teams on what needs to happen in digital spaces. This sets the stage for strategy, policy and standards going forward. A digital launch is generally a 90 day exercise and then ongoing monitoring and revisions - but this all depends on the level of collaboration and cooperation and speed of the other teams. And I should say I don't do consumer package goods and other B to C exercises. My focus is B to B - establishing a presence and maintaining it for the top-level brand, so that is all the experience I can offer.