Fear Factor: The ICANN Domain Revolt

The unison flash mob dance by the world’s most powerful groups of agencies against ICANN’s new gTLD domain name program must not be taken lightly. After all, these global bodies represent the real persuaders of emotions. They influence our taste, habits and behavior, like mix of cereal, length of the skirts, width of ties all the way to commercials and reality shows that teach us how to role play in cubicles or dance at weddings. They are the advertisers, public relationists, market researchers and logo-slogan centric magicians. They have successfully taught us commercialization and modernism, always showed us brighter and colorful ways but currently in throws with reckless hyper-consumerism going through some depressive tumultuous times.

What they not see in the ICANN’s new gTLD domain name system and what these nostalgic Mad Men so afraid off? Is it really that fear factor? The gTLD issues over years have percolated broiled and roasted around the world in huge open public grilling. Why now so suddenly the spring of opposition demanding regime change at best?

In Support of Opposition

Some of the panic buttons for top established brands and their agencies are the eruption of ‘name fortification’ example, a Telco acquires ‘dot cell,’ ‘dot mobile,’ ‘dot call’ etc. and fortifies their current brand while creating a barrage of digital campaign against a particular well established name brand. In right hands a gTLD is surely a game changer. Imagine the colorful maze where hundreds of mega brands create their own ‘brand new stars’ and set the stage where galaxies start to collide. Sure this may happen as it did when first domain names were introduced. Old established brands were pulled out along roots. So many sectors got changed or wiped out overnight while far too many blossomed. As a global cyber name brand marketing weapon a gTLD can provide very powerful action.

The other issue is for holders of ‘mega-dot-com-brands’ about the emergence of ‘better and sharper dot brand names’ with wider capability to expand on ‘customer touch points’. Truly, what will happen if Expedia.com, ETrade.com, Travelocity.com or EBay.com were confronted with a better dot brand name with more magic directly threatening their base while replicating profusely with unlimited sub-name-brands overnight around the world? A gTLD offers the fastest and the cheapest tools for the right combination to expand the base and catapult into next stratosphere.

ICANN took years to build this program but only allocated few months for the advertisers to sort all this out. But on the other hand, what if agencies were asked 20 years ago to accept the domain name? The fear factor would be equally immense as early domain names too crushed the very old, and at times most cherished models. The domain names rapidly evolved all by themselves without any advertising campaign and quickly engulfed the world without mercy. Although they changed the landscape but overall created wonders for the world at large. The magic is still unfolding every second as we live in a digitally mobile and interconnected world. Irrespective it makes a great topic for the boardrooms as January 12th 2012 comes closer. On this date ICANN will accept applications of proposed names from around the world? The global race is on and we need to explore the key issues.

The Fear Factor

Lack of Power Play: A gTLD is primarily a powerful cyber branding class act for larger brands skating on regional or global landscape. The more you digitally compress a traditional campaign the more its brand name identity becomes fluid and rises on the global cyber-branding stage, reducing dependency on traditional advertising support. Remember a time, when in order to make an impact, a synchronized series of hundred full page newspaper ads were needed around the world on a same days, this now can be achieved instantly, repeated endlessly and all for a fraction of cost.

Imagine if thousands of big brands acquired new gTLDs and their hyper name identity expansion was all domain name management driven while fees were directed to ICANN, domain name registries, registrars, Google Ad words, SEOs etc. What special role would be left for the ad agencies to play in this space? The study form ABC Namebank already points to some 18,700 organizations worldwide that may directly profit from this gTLD platform whereby tens of billions in new revenue may get directed to domain services sectors. Would agencies be sidelined or become new owners of domain registrars to have their power play?

The Advanced Name Games: The winners and losers of the gTLD application will be ultimately determined by true powers of the proposed names. Some very established name brands, regional or global may not be able to qualify. When you start to accept ‘one internet one world’ a new thinking of ‘one name one owner’ towards market domination via name identity appears to be very desirous. The force of logo-slogan centric hammer at every branding exercise at most agencies precludes them from tackling the global corporate nomenclature complexities. In their mandate name identities are never the ultimate drivers of image positioning but the logos and slogans are.

It worked wonders during the last century. There is nothing so complicated about this topic as its simplicity resides in the volumes of pages of major international trade directories where identical and similar names gasps in tight columns. Are these the reasons for senior marketer and brand pushers to be quiet on the gTLD naming issues while their own associations are parading with paper Mache monsters chanting of cyber squatting?

This century, the digital compression on global cyber branding is forcing the name identity to do all the heavy lifting and gTLD further accentuate their power. The new gTLD approach is a logical and rightful nomenclature evolution towards global cyber name branding expansions. This subject of corporate nomenclature at this level of global naming complexity is neither taught at world’s leading universities nor discussed in top MBA courses. AARM research shows that less than 2% marketing executives have any idea about gTLD and would not be able to articulate the subject in any way without any formal study.

Wired Hub of Horror

Among the developed nations fears of one internet and one world is slowly growing; where some 3 billion online users would create a round the clock global pulse of opinion, more powerful than any single nation could withstand. The world like a fluid interconnected ocean, hyper digitized social and mobile media, and search engine dependent society devouring information via personalized interaction is steadily crushing the old medium. All communications whether corporate, public, social or political will all face new forces of change on a global scale. The real change cometh; internet will mature further and take some sudden swipes at our traditional practices.

The gTLD now shakes the tree by pushing the global cyber nomenclature issues to the top of the agenda. The Googlized and AD word dependent marketing has also pointed out that we are simply driven by name identities. The search engine model has divided the global corporate nomenclature into good workable and expandable names or duds. What does this all mean to brand owners and creative services? Can brand holders adjust fast; are they ready to accept a 3 billion online universe of a one internet one world?

Can they recognize the ultimate goal of ‘one name one owner’ as currently enjoyed by less 1% brand name owners of the world? Will they now acknowledge the hidden cost-saving powers of the Five Star Standard of Naming? Will they become just good spectators or emerge as real game changers?

Why name evaluation should the next big hush-hush word in the boardrooms? Only those organizations that can boldly face the obvious and hidden strengths and weaknesses of their current names can truly cope with future in light of the new global cyber name complexities. The fear factors created by half knowledge are just part of the learning process while the successful image of name brands all over the world in the future will be increasingly and primarily driven by the power of their name. This point alone is contentious enough to demand an open debate. What’s your move?