The Approaching Superdomain Opportunity
ICANN's upcoming sale of new domain real estate promises to open up new areas for businesses to establish their online presence and strengthen their brands. What must current brandholders do to preserve their identities? What opportunities does the move create?
Without a doubt, major brand name identities will be arriving at the precipice where they will be lined up for a freefall from grace; some will fall, and some will have a parachute. This scene will be repeated all over the world, with new ultra-modern-cyber-age-branding-platforms being structured as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) introduces new policies that will dramatically change the old-fashioned thinking of global branding.
In most cases, this platform will drastically cut up to 95 percent of the traditional costs of global branding and equally cut up to 95 percent of the time involved in creating a global presence. The races to get these name approvals are delicate, the fees and procedures are complicated, the rules of global naming are ultra-sophisticated, but these new tools will create the new global status of powerhouse names for the next level of intricacies of the cyber-age-branding platforms.
Domains for Sale
Today, the vast majority of brandholders worldwide are not even aware of the fact that ICANN, the global Internet authority, will be accepting applications in mid-2009 on a first-come-first-served basis -- for a nonrefundable fee of US$185,000 each -- to obtain exclusive global ownership of any root suffix.
Simply put, you may now exclusively own a suffix like .com of your own choice -- like .jobs, .dubai, .hotel, .arabian, .ibm or .sony, .casino -- no one in the world will have that suffix but you, enabling extraordinary control to build global brands and corner markets with far-reaching cyber power, while creating hundreds of your own sub-brands to generate new revenue streams. The overall costs of acquiring exclusive global rights under this platform are highly affordable, compared to the millions wasted in advertising, or fighting trademark and domain battles.
"An international advertising program will commence with ads in major publications explaining the details and procedures," said Paul Levins, executive officer and vice president of corporate affairs for ICANN. "However, the progress to this mega-global movement is at the right speed; with years of thinking and planning behind, it is moving on very solid grounds."
With old-fashioned monster brands under financial meltdowns, this now offers a very fresh and agile platform to spread a global name-identity. This is one of those events of 2009 that would cause a massive tremor with alarm bells ringing in every major corporation of the world. However, the end result of this policy will prove to be extremely positive. The marketing and online front will utilize the new platforms with new powers; there will be an energized rebranding to ensure global positioning, while thousands of seriously duplicated brand name identities all over the world will have to step aside.
Names like "Sony" or "Panasonic" or "Rolex" are exclusively 100 percent owned by the companies and are Five Star Standard names. As a result, this stringent standard acts like a parachute and ensures a brand 100 percent ownership of the name identity with global respect and recognition. But common names based on family, geographic or dictionary words like "United," "National," "Eastern," "Central," "General," "Pacific," "Dynamic" or "Quantum" are all heavily duplicated and, therefore, face an uncertain future in this open global bidding. Any major player with a diluted name will need a professional game plan to address these sensitive issues.
The opening of the Internet to Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic languages also will create a tidal wave of new interactions. A billion new users will come online, millions of new portals will erupt, and e-commerce activity will shoot up. The overall policies of ICANN and the prices just released are fair, and they are designed to bring the Internet to a much higher next level.
In this new mode, names -- like ultimate flag carriers of the brand -- will skate around the world and tap the right customers, using the latest online multimedia-searching and cyber-branding tools. The exclusive control of the root suffix will propel any brand to the stratosphere overnight.
After years of research in the making, this new ICANN process will generate an estimated $33 billion in fees in the first three years, according to a recent study by ABC Namebank titled "The New-Name-Economy & 2010 Cyber Branding Strategies."
The public at large will become the real beneficiaries as a billion new users will come online, millions of new interactive gateways will open, and thousands of new global brands will emerge. There are already some 18,700 companies in the world with diluted names that will apply under this new policy, either by choice or forced by competitive elements. They need to secure layers around their existing brand name identity.
Most big companies are already spending millions pushing poorly crafted names or spending millions on defending trademark fights and domain issues, so the fee of $185,000 is just a bargain. The global scale bidding for highly popular names and special categories as cataloged by ABC Namebank will be challenging and very entrepreneurial.
Corporations must proceed immediately for an authoritative evaluation of all their name identities. Under qualified leadership, this naming process requires a proven methodology to relate to languages, phonetics, translations, global availability, secondary meanings, trademark laws, domain registration laws, and creative naming architecture -- all under commanding knowledge of this global issue, but never to be confused with the graphic expertise of making schematic logos with slogans.
The current brandholders must face three tough question: What are the immediate and future threats to their current name identity? What are the options they have for a partial or a full name change? Under what global rules or the laws of corporate naming will they find the perfect solution acceptable to their wider customer base and internal marketing goals, and equally passable under the new ICANN policies? Currently, ABC Namebank is conducting exclusive seminars on these issues.
This is indeed a rare opportunity for dynamic businesses during this current worldwide meltdown of markets, along with old established brands where global image shifts are now creating new voids that need to be filled with new global icons.
This policy finally proves that "marketing is not only global, but without global naming, there is no marketing at all." Denials and unnecessary justification to self-righteously prove any existing name have little practicality. From now on, it's all about global naming laws, ICANN and its strict allocation of exclusive name licenses designed to connect with billions of new customers -- and also the ultimate tests and evaluations of The Five Star Standard of Naming.
Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on corporate image and global cyber-branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced the Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980s and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy established in New York and Toronto a quarter century ago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.