Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Companies selling generic products differentiate themselves from their competition by branding their company as being different from all the rest.
So why do brands need generic domain domain names?
Branding is all about pricing and differentiation.
But domains are all about navigation. On the web you need both.
What's the difference between the $12 jeans sold at Target and the $125 Jeans sold at Diesel?? BRAND. Both are in fact made from the same cloth at the same factory in China.
A brand is more then a logo on a page. It's the total experience that surrounds it. A $4 coffee at Starbucks is the way you feel going there versus Duncan Donuts.
Therefore if I had cancer I'd want to be treated at the Mayo Clinic. But the Mayo Clinic would also want to have cancer.com to re-enforce its leadership and trap all the opportunities in the space.
The name must have appeal, be distinct, and be memorable and easy to pronounce.
Domain names are much more than an Internet address. Its all things in one: your brand and your reason for being -- both online and off. A name can inspire, excite, motivate, and entice. At the same time, it can repel, bore, confuse and polarize.
Further, unlike a brand name that lived in the brick and mortar world and was yellow page listed in alpha order, since a name must be typed into a web browser as a URL, it must be easy to spell.
All of these factors can make the difference between being found or lost in cyberspace. Not all brand names are Internet-ready and some are a liability in this regard.
High energy, generic Internet names that are the first to pop to mind or to drive a keyword search.
The most effective domain name serves as that one element vital to the success of all direct marketing: a memorable call to action. It tells the prospect in an easy-to-remember way what to do next or where to go for information, to request a demo or place an order.
And because this kind of domain name relates to a specific offer, promotion, product line or service, it doesn't have to match a brand name ... and you don't have to rename a brand to make best use of it.
In fact, it works better than your-own-name.com which brings visitors to your front door, but doesn't lead them directly to the offer or product they came looking for. Plus, at the end of a radio or TV spot, no one is going to remember "builderslightingofchicago dot com slash products slash lamps slash floor."
But they will remember "justlamps dot com."
If you were shopping for boys clothes at Bloomingdales, why should you have to navigate your way through the whole store when the technology of the web enables a customer go directly to the desired department by using a generic name like boysdepartment.com?
Plus, more people are likely to type-in boys department than Bloomingdales when searching for boyswear. This "type-in" traffic is the online version of "walk-in" traffic. It brings you a steady stream of new business by automatically directing customers to your door.
So the Web offers retailers an unprecedented opportunity to reach a wide variety of communities or market segments, presenting a different "face" to each.
Because a company can operate under as many domain names as they want, which can all cross-link, each "site within a site" can operate under its own memorable and descriptive domain address. This makes content easy to find and needs easier to fulfill.
In effect, you can now have a dozen different 'virtual storefronts' that all use the same inventory and delivery system.
This allows a company to compliment its legacy domain name with multiple new avenues of ebusiness reach -- and "own" many of their industry's keyword terms that are listed with search engines. This was only only possible before by having expensive real estate in multiple locations.
Companies like Procter & Gamble have demonstrated that its registration of over a thousand domains was a smart investment that's become a great online asset. Bank America felt that using the name "loans.com" would ensure advertising recall and invite more customers from new "boutique" competitors who might otherwise loose interest navigating their way through an entire online bank. The Post Office has established "stampsonline.com" to overcome the hardship to consumers being known only as a "fly within the walls" of usps.gov.org.
Sometimes under a generic a brand can go where it it can't under its own name. Perhaps establishing an information-type social network. For example. if I was Perdue Chickens I might want to sponsor colds.com to build a customer-generated commuity of old wives tales featuring "chicken soup" recipes or directory of where chicken soup could be found for a cold locally.
If I was Airborne, Zicam, ester-c or Cold-FX, I might also want colds.com because editorial is contextually linked to ads- meaning whenever they write about colds, or someone searches under colds, colds is going to pop up before Airborner, Zicam, Ester-c or Cold-FX if you could even spell or pronounce those.
Moreover, advertising colds.com on tissue boxes on doctors offices would have a higher recall then a "shelf-talker" with a long medical name. Then someone could go home and remember where to go for a deeper dive. Right now the opportunity-- the captive audience in waiting rooms all over the world in medical offices- more eyeballs then Frank Schilling gets-- is often wasted.
Plus domains often need to be judged not alone, but on how they look on a logo, mug, billboard- when seen driving by at 8- miles per hour in the blink of an eye or on a commercial on TV with only the audio absorbed while your eyes are multi-tasking elsewhere.
So it's not really JUST about branding, it's all about navigation. You want people to find you in any number of ways on the web and come into the website via the windows, the side doors, the back door and the skylight, as well as the front door domain name.