Brand Marketing

Logo Contest: Sahar’s Viral Marketing Campaign

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As some of you know, Sahar has been holding a popular logo contest over at Sitepoint. This contest has become huge, as Sahar has offered $2,500 for the winning logo, and is even offering $1,250 to the person that refers the winning artist to the contest. There is now a YouTube flash video marketing the event. Some of those logos are damn good. Nice idea to add the viral P2P and YT elements:

Calling All Designers…

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Top Notch Domains, LLC LogoAfter a couple of years with the same look, I’ve decided to move forward and have my logo and business card redesigned.  I  set up a contest at Sitepoint  to open this to as many designers as possible.  I admit that I got the idea of holding a contest from  Sahar  – Thanks!  

Although I like the current style/concept of my logo, I am looking for something more fresh that uses less black for better space.  I like the skyline, but don’t need the actual buildings (an outline of a skyline would probably suffice).  I would also like a more modern looking font for the name of the company.  I’ve given comments to the designers who have submitted their work so far, so you can get an idea of what I am asking.    

Down the road in the next few weeks, I can also see myself redesigning my entire  Top Notch Domains website,  and perhaps this logo and business card design contest will help me find someone for that project.

So check out my contest and show me your skills!

.Mobi Madness = .Mobi Sickness

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Wow…. I just spent the last half hour of my life reading Frank’s, Jay’s, Rick’s and Sahar’s blogs along with posts on a couple of forums about .mobi domain names and my head is spinning. I don’t understand why <some> people who have invested in .mobi feel the need to defend it like they are defending their children or family. Well, I guess I know why they feel the need, but it’s painful to watch.

It’s a freaking extension. If marketers promote it, investors will probably make money. If not, investors better hope they aren’t holding the bag like many of the speculators who bought names in other little used extensions. I don’t want to hear any more about bofa, disney, skype….etc. None of that means squat for 99.5% of the .mobi names that were registered based on speculation.

In my opinion, at best, some mobile-savvy marketers will buy .mobi names for THEIR brand, and some lucky .mobi speculators will make money (not just flipping to other speculators as it seems most of the successful investors are doing). At worst, .mobi is just another choice of extension that is owned by speculators and barely used by anyone.

Bottom line is that you can’t even have a rational conversation with most .mobi investors any more. It’s madness, and its making me sick!

Citigroup Really Gets It!

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Citi LogoLast week I blogged about Citibank’s purchase of ThankYou.com to go along with its “Thank You Rewards Program.” While it may seem like the obvious domain name for this program, many corporations simply assume its customers will find out more information about a branded product or service by navigating to the corporate site instead. Last week, I congratulated Citibank on this wise purchase.

I was reading a post on Frank Schilling’s SevenMile.com blog about Citigroup’s branding of Mortgage.com, and I wanted to bring attention to this. Clearly the ThankYou.com purchase isn’t just a one time smart move. There is a strong marketing culture at Citigroup, and its domain acquisitions prove that the company understands its customers’ web surfing habits.

Mortgage.com is miles ahead of any other domain name in the mortgage industry. Sure, Citigroup executives could have said “if a potential customer wants a mortgage from us, they will navigate to Citigroup.com or Citibank.com.” This could have been true, and nobody would really say otherwise. However, the Citi branding of Mortgage.com allows Citigroup to make their pitch to ANY potential customer who wants a mortgage and visits this site. Instead of paying $x.xx or more per click to attract customers to its site, they now own all of these leads. They’ve eliminated the competition that existed, and they don’t have to compete with other advertisers.

It’s so easy, but so many companies just don’t understand this. I can’t say enough positive things about this great purchase.

**Although Mortgage.com was acquired by Citigroup, when they purchased ABN AMRO Mortgage Group, Inc.

Barry Diller’s IAC Split into Five Units

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This morning, Barry Diller’s Internet conglomerate IAC announced they will split into five separate publicly traded companies.   The break down is as follows:

IAC
Ask.com, Citysearch, IAC Advertising Solutions, Evite, iWon, My Way, Match.com, CollegeHumor, GarageGames, and  Gifts.com

HSN
HSN TV, hsn.com, and  Cornerstone Brands

Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster

Interval International
Interval International

LendingTree
LendingTree

By breaking IAC up into smaller operating units, investors will be able to focus on the individual businesses in each unit, and one poor performing website will have less of an impact on the value of the entire company. Personally, I like the unit that will retain the IAC brand.   More information about this can be found on Yahoo Finance.

Citibank Gets It!

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Shortly after graduate school, I worked at Wunderman, the direct marketing agency under the Y&R Brands umbrella. I was a Project Manager on the Citibank retail merchandising account, one of the agency’s largest clients. Wunderman created direct mail packages, financial center brochures and financial center advertising including displays, window slicks, sandwich boards, ATM machine screens, and many others.

In 2004, Citibank unveiled their “Thank You” program, a rewards program that thanked customers for banking with Citi. I worked with some great creative people at Wunderman (Gus Tejerina, Barry Dickson, and Terry Pierce among many others) who came out with some great catchy advertising based on the “Thank You” theme.

At the time, I hadn’t purchased my first domain name, so suggesting that Citibank should buy ThankYou.com was never something I considered. In retrospect, with such a huge branding initiative undertaken by Citi, this domain name was critical for Citibank to own. Up until 2006, the domain name was owned by a company called 800 Brands, Inc. Sometime in late 2006, the domain name was purchased by Citibank, where it now anchors the “Thank You” rewards program.

Because of the major branding done by Citibank and its advertising agency partners, ThankYou.com became an essential asset that Citibank needed. Although they probably ended up paying much more for the name than they would have paid had they bought it before the campaign, the fact that they spent the money shows that they are smart marketers.

When a company unveils a new campaign or marketing slogan, they should always prepare for the best case scenario. They should ask, “if this becomes huge, will people expect to find more information at slogan.com?” If the answer is yes or maybe, they should buy the domain name before the campaign is dropped. Not doing this can result in missed contact opportunities or added expense when the name is needed.

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