The superstar movie rental giant, Netflix rapidly graduated to movie streaming and suddenly splintered the old fashioned DVD movie rentals and created ‘Qwikster’, a separate division with a name identity inspired by the sorts of Twitter and Napster etc. When the outcry of customers reached the boardroom, the objections over account access, dual billings and having to deal with two separate unrelated name identities overwhelmed the management while the wisdom kicked in.
Qwikster was quickly withdrawn. Reed Hastings CEO of Netflix said on his blog, "It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs. This means no change: one website, one account, one password" in other words, no Qwikster.
This is a good move indeed as Qwikster would have become a major name identity liability and a branding nightmare. Creating divisional identities, spin-offs of operations and divestures all require very delicate understanding of corporate nomenclature. It’s very easy to find the names quickly but to disrupt perceptions and the human nature side of ‘name-usability’ is very complex. Here is one major new emerging front that will topple the traditional thinking on market domination via name identities.
Understanding the difference between a Pyramid and a Root?
A typical domain name is a Pyramid; say under www.ibm.com the entire universe of IBM is parked. Their history, products and services, management, global offices, investment, shareholders, stock related information, human resource, public relations, community services, staffing and hundreds of other items all nicely arranged like a pyramid. There is only one domain name www.ibm.com and it belongs to IBM. Great, so, what’s so special about it, as millions of other companies are doing the same thing? Just hold this thought for a minute.
The ICANN’s gTLD brand is a Root: now say IBM acquires .ibm and it selectively creates a series of sub-domain name cyber brands: mainframe.ibm, cloud.ibm, delhi.ibm, hr.ibm, or shares.ibm. The variations are endless and as a global player, they could offer geo-socio-cyber-contact-sub-domain-connections all over the world.
As a Root the gTLD name brand grows into a tree with branches and provides a more flexible and end user friendly setup.
If mass customer acquisitions and out reaching cyber customer touch are the next challenges for the ever expanding universe of online users then such Roots play a far more advanced game then the traditional single domain name stacked up with contents like a pyramid.
The management has two options: either just keep the pyramid and keep adding to its solo structure, or start thinking about the free flow growth of a root into many different branches to strategically interlink or uplink and become a large tree. In either case the their perform will be dramatically different.
The naysayers all over the world are already blasting ICANN over this gTLD program and their fears have more to do with lack of understanding and readily available skills to adjust to this global shift towards large scale cyber name identity management.
The subject gets even more complex for global entities when there are too many sub-divisions within too many sub-brands, each with splintered name identity already polluting the market place and that’s where proper rules have be applied to harmonize corporate nomenclature.
What would have happened if the gTLD dot Netflix existed? Would stream.netfilx and dvd.netflix have provided highly unified single brand name equity, with the same backend, similarly they would have offered country specific identities like canada.netflix and just keep adding targeted countries. They are smart and they will decide the right thing.
Today, each serious marketer has to come to grips and selective abandon the traditional education over mastering the new emerging platforms because the next battle is all about ‘mass customer acquisition’ and ‘mass customer-touch-points’ achieved by practicing ‘market domination via name identity.’ At this level of complexity this topic is neither discussed at universities nor do MBA programs anywhere in the world and for this reason alone there is so much fear about the new platforms.
The ICANN’s gTLD brands applications start from January 12th 2012.