Don’t Gamble Away Your Brand Name: Buy Domain Names and Hold ‘Em

How valuable is your brand name?

You may think you’re not a gambling person, but if you don’t own all your brand’s top level domain names, you’re sitting at the table, and throwing away all your aces. You could take a bit of advice from The Gambler

If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

Value can be fixed based on transactions, visits to your website and sales history. But a brand has value which extends beyond mere monetary transactions.

When you purchase your domain name for your brand, did you purchase every variable for it? If you only purchased one variant of it, you may be “out of aces” and leaving your business vulnerable to brand exploitation. As an example, no one would be better one than Ted Cruz*.

Don’t let your brand name be hijacked

Ted Cruz announced that he is running for President as a Republican candidate. His conservative stance upsets many on the left and in the middle. Opponents of his candidacy took advantage of available domain names related to the candidate’s brand/name. And It didn’t take them long to get busy with mischief. Because the Cruz campaign didn’t purchase these domains, there is now a bit of PR kerfuffle for the team to pay attention to when they probably would rather be working on other aspects of their candidate’s campaign.

The mischief makers redirected the domains they purchased (which should have been purchased by Cruz and his campaign long ago) to websites which are antithetical to Cruz’s platform and stated views.

  • readyforcruz.org is redirected to plannedparenthood.org
  • tedcruz.com has a message in support of President Obama
  • tedcruzforamerica.com is redirected to healthecare.gov

Anyone can purchase a domain name.

Back in the height of the housing bubble in 2006, homeowners who were disgusted with their homes constructed by a major national volume homebuilder, purchased a domain that was negative towards that homebuilder. They posted a website at that domain declaring for all the world how much they hated their homes and the builder. Even today,

  • www.kb-homesucks.com is still proclaiming for all to see how much these homeowners hate the builder.
  • www.kbhomesleak.com obviously states certain owner’s dissatisfaction.

Go beyond .com

When you purchase your brand’s domain name, purchase all available variants of it that you can afford. Include .com, .net, .org, .biz, .us and more. While you may never use these domain names to refer to a website, you don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to pranksters or even competitors who decide to hijack your good brand and use it for their benefit.

As Kenny Rogers sang, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em.”


*We are not stating any partisanship nor support for any candidate by authoring this post. We are merely using this situation as a teachable moment for all business owners.

Blue Sky Thinking and Innovation

blue-sky thinking: noun .  1. creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs[1]

At the beginning of the great housing apocalypse I suggested to several home builder clients that they offer an opportunity for people to experience life in one the builder’s homes by allowing potential buyers to spend a night in a model home. I called it “sleep with a model.” When I suggested this — to a person —every one of the home builders said, “We can’t do this.” or “Our insurance will allow it.” and even “They’ll tear up the house!”

I also recommended to a Realtor client that she develop an alliance with home renovations contractors so she could provide buyers with immediate access to trusted vendors. I also advocated to the same client that she arrange value loss insurance, soothing buyers’ greatest fears: losing money. Such innovations would distinguish the Realtor’s brand in the crowded market and set her apart for the customer-focused benefits she could provide.

In both situations, there was extreme resistance and objections about why these things could not be done. Not one person stopped to consider how these things could be done.

Innovation is rare

True innovation comes along very rarely. And in (almost) every instance, real innovation is met with extreme resistance. Everyone thinks of all the reasons why something cannot be done. Given the amount of resistance when it comes to innovation, you would think that innovation is against the natural order.

Companies that prosper are those which give power to customers, — providing consumers with their most desired choices and options. Think things that make it easy on the customer. And therefore help you gain more business.

Technology related firms generally make the greatest leaps these days providing people the innovations they want to smooth daily life.

Taco Bell New App

In recent news, innovation is coming from the food and beverage sector. USA Today reports,

“Taco Bell will unveil an advanced mobile app that lets folks order and pay on their smartphones and then walk or drive in and pick up their food.”

The new app is being spotlighted by taking the entire Taco Bell website dark October 28, 2014. How much resistance do you think was heard around the office when this was proposed? You can imagine the conversations: “What if they pay and we don’t get their order?” “How will we deal with incorrect orders?” And on and on. But clearly somebody overcame those issues and designed the new smartphone app.

Also reported by USA Today, another sacred cow, the wait line at Outback, is being conquered by new tech with the launch of their mobile app allowing diners to see real-time estimated waiting times and to add their names to the wait list.

“It’s more important than rolling out a new steak,” says John Schaufelberger, chief marketing officer, in a phone interview.

Nurturing blue sky thinking

Innovation comes from blue sky thinking. Unhindered, unfettered consideration of ground-breaking options which lead to new procedures, new products and ease of use.

When was the last time you did some of your own blue sky thinking? Did you censor yourself? OR did you just let the ideas flow? Is your culture one of encouraging innovation? Do you listen to employees who have ideas of how to streamline production? In a classic model, U.S. auto producers changed production lines in the 1970s to complete with Japanese automakers, with a great many of their ideas arising from those who actually worked on production lines.

Censoring your creativity and wild ideas will keep you exactly where you are. Want to grow? Want to be talked about? Be different.

Blue sky thinking cultivation:

  1. Talk to your customers. Ask them what is their most difficult issue or problem. Ask them what they most need. Then figure out how to do it.
  2. Keep a notebook. Whether digital, or hand-written, capture arcane ideas or transient thoughts. This is why writers and engineers keep notebooks at their bedside so they awaken from dreams to record their nocturnal imaginings.
  3. Observe. Watch people. Watch your customers. Note how they actually do things, not how you’d like them to do things.
  4. Have a blue sky session. Include everyone. Customers. Owners. Stakeholders. Don’t censor. Record. Process later.
  5. Examine common problems. Apple’s iPad evolved from a desire to provide portable, lightweight, powerful devices with multiple capacities. The tablet computer they created revolutionized the market and created a new category.

How have you created innovation in your firm? Tell us how you’ve encouraged blue sky thinking and innovation.


[1] blue-sky thinking. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blue-sky thinking (accessed: October 28, 2014).

Superbowl ads to no longer make a spectacle of the brand

Selling-the-sizzle-album-cover

When sex doesn’t sell

According to an AP news article by Mae Anderson, this year’s Superbowl ads will focus on the brand and will be more mature. She notes that brands like GoDaddy and Axe who have typically promoted their images with risqué scenarios and tawdry images will clean up their acts.

Thank goodness. After last year I was left with the determination that national brands spending millions of dollars on :30 of air time had totally forgotten the reason they purchase ads. Shock doesn’t sell. It only stops traffic.

Features, benefits, value anchor a brand

Your ad, whether in your local newspaper, direct mail, or digital format, must always focus on the time proven essentials: features, benefits and value to the customer.

Your marketing messages must reinforce your brand promise and help future or current customers comprehend the value of choosing your products.

Overselling the sizzle

Elmer Wheeler said, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak,” and while I agree that using memorable touchpoints of the brand helps consumers comprehend and recall your brand, if you oversell sizzle and it is not a core component of your brand, you have failed.

GoDaddy has famously used bombshell ads to help you remember the company name, but not a single ad they have ever run helps my remember their reason for being: domain name registration.

Flash does not build trust

Your ads should, like your content, help your brand build trust with your audience. Flashy ads do get attention, but do they reinforce the enduring quality of your products or services? I would answer, “No.”

Thank goodness this year we will see more ads such as the one from Budweiser which will focus on friendships and relationships. Budweiser has always focused on essential qualities to anchor their brews into American consumers’ minds.

Though Bud has also used their share of sophomoric humor (remember Whassss up?) to appeal to young men, a subsection of the market. On the whole Budweiser has more often focused on the building of relationships and their brew’s place as a product that fits into the life of their consumers.

Yes, sex sells, but will your customers trust or remember you in the morning if that is your primary tactic? I think not.