At the Web’s inception, its genius founders doodled on a napkin, came up with the big six suffixes — .com, .net, .gov, .edu, .mil and .org — and declared “www” as the one and only key to cyberspace, changing business forever.
In the beginning, this weird and strange thing called a domain name, costing pennies in comparison with a trademark registration, was often delegated to webmasters or junior staff. Today, however, if a domain-name issue is not dealt with at a senior boardroom level, the quick demise of that corporation may follow.
After all, a URL is the only key that opens the gate to a corporation, its products, images and identities on the Internet. There is no other practical way to access a Web site.
The Real Question
During the economic boom, a million domain names were registered every day. Even the most unusual, silly and dysfunctional names were sought-after icons of get-rich-quick dreamers.
Ninety-nine percent of such names failed. Exhausted or expired, those names now have disappeared.
While ICANN and the domain registrars wonder on the disappearance of continual registrations and renewals, the real question now is the fate of the millions of business domain names still in active use in global e-commerce.
As online business has evolved, six new marketing and survival strategies for cyber-branding have come to the forefront.
1. What are alpha-structures, and why are they killing great Web sites?
You must be able to decipher how and why your business names are composed and structured. Only then can you achieve your marketing goals. This process of fine-tuned analysis is not a simple routine for English majors or linguists; rather, it is a science and a fine art. Names must go through critical analysis based on the laws of corporate naming. One must determine the desired size, personality and length of the name, plus the choice of alpha characters, as each emits its own unique signals.
2. Are names too short or too long, do they have the right number of letters, do they fit the personality of your company? Do your customers recognize your desired message in your name?
The ability to determine the answers to these questions is a must-have skill for all marketing and branding teams and is essential for corporate image management.
Complexities of e-commerce and massive duplication of similar and identical names on the Web have made naming a tactical exercise. General branding exercises are not naming analysis.
Establish a review and get all your names properly analyzed. This process is not expensive at all compared with what is at stake. Use professionally designed training available via webinars and executive workshops.
3. What is “search-ability” — and why can it keep you in oblivion?
You can check your name’s visibility in a second by entering it into the Google search engine in quotes. It makes a huge difference where you are on the search results page. Are your names popping up on the first page, are they lost in the shuffle beyond the 10-page mark, or are they nowhere to be found?
Study search-engine optimization in great detail. It’s a brand-new frontier. Either your customers can find you easily, or you’re simply lost. No amount of money can create a bounce to your expensive Web sites or your big-budget branding in these times — but the alpha-structure of your URLs can.
Only an in-depth analysis will point to the problems and illuminate methods to fix them.
4. What is global “domainization,” and how do you expand your reach?
How many domain names do you have, and why? The art of cyber-branding now demands sharp skills in the areas of domain registration and Web site management.
Multiple domain names create multiple problems in multiple markets. There are rules to be followed. Great opportunities are missed by not having a sophisticated naming system for global cyber branding.
To solve this problem, have a proper system in place to manage global complexity. Be aware that there are too many fancy services offering strange global registrations and localization, and most are flaky, faceless and without references.
5. What is linguistics, and why do they embarrass your international customers?
A site name in one country can mean something entirely different when it circumnavigates the globe. How do you tackle such language issues? The answer is to acquire skills and a deeper understanding of global communications. Even if you’re a regional player, your sites are still visible and exposed to the entire world. Cyber branding is an extremely global phenomenon.
6. What is “mindsharing,” and how do you win new customers?
Mindshare is more important than market share. Customers must allow a name brand to settle in their minds before they give you cash. As such, market positioning is more critical than profit maximization.
The human mind gravitates toward good names — those that are end user-friendly and trustworthy. When trying to process millions of silly and randomly structured names, the mind becomes overly tired. So, what are good, catchy names, and how do you establish them?
It becomes easy once you have the right expertise. Go online and bring in professional webinars within your entire corporation. This not only is the most cost-effective way to make e-learning a possibility, but also will bring harmony to your branding while dramatically increasing your overall marketing performance.
In conclusion, big branding has gone for a big sleep, and there’s no need to wake it up. Now the most cost-effective approach is to handle your cyber-image using a new set of skills and techniques. The future can be pretty clear if it is planned today.
Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and Domain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global name identities and domain issues. He introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the ’80s and also founded ABC Namebank, a consultancy with offices in New York and Toronto, a quarter-century ago.