Domain Branding Mistake by TicketReserve.com

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TicketReserve.com offers a unique service, allowing fans to purchase ticket options for future sporting events. For example, a fan could have purchased an option to buy a New England Patriots Super Bowl ticket at face value for around $300 at the beginning of the season, which is less than 10% of the current market price on StubHub. If the Patriots didn’t make it to the Super Bowl, the option would be worthless, and the person would have lost the cost of the option. TicketReserve.com counts CBS as an investor, and they have relationships with many professional sports teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL as well as college sports teams.
Recently, TicketReserve.com announced that they will be rebranding, and the company will be known as FirstDibz.com as of February 1st, 2008. From the January 7th press release,

We needed a new identity, a fresh approach,” said Daniel Lotzof, TicketReserve.com president. “This ideally will allow fans to understand better what we’re offering. I think there was some confusion in the market, some areas where we weren’t received with a fully open mind. This also allows us to expand our focus a bit and also get into things like hotel accommodations for these events.

I believe TicketReserve.com is making a critical domain branding mistake. While the spelling of “First Dibz” may seem unique, it is probable that customers and potential customers will think of “First Dibs,” and may consequently type-in FirstDibs.com, a domain name owned by another company since at least 2001 (according to the Whois history). I believe this will cause much more confusion to customers than the market confusion the company believes currently exists.
If the company is content with FirstDibz.com as a new brand, it is essential that they do what they can to purchase FirstDibs.com as well. Unfortunately, FirstDibs.com currently has privacy guard in place preventing easy access to contact the owner, however, with a few minutes of detective work, they should be able to get in touch with the owner relatively easily. Making an offer worthy of accepting, after they already began promoting their brand, will presumably be much more difficult than had they attempted to purchase the name prior to rebranding.

1 COMMENT

  1. Elliot, if you would’ve posted this on April 1st I would not have believed you. Sheer lunacy on their part.
    I could understand a bit if they would want to rebrand from FirstDibz.com to TicketReserve.com, but not the other way šŸ™‚

  2. This is one of the worst rebrandings I have ever heard of and it has nothing to do with the other issue they create – mistyping or misunderstanding the z vs s scenarios. TicketReserve is a far superior name. I would question the demand for the service or some other factor rather than rebrand. Rebranding this name will accomplish nothing. FirstDibz – I can find a better domain AVAILABLE for the reg fee and I am not alone.

  3. The mentality here is classic 1999.
    Back then, people were throwing money at what they thought were “catchy” domain names and they lost a fortune. The lesson learned in 1999-2000 is that the best Internet marketing strategy (unless you’re going to build your own brand like Coca-Cola) is to obtain a name with suitable intuitive traffic and then compound it with a great business plan (Hotels.com, Cars.com, etc).
    What is most regretable here is that TicketReserve is already a successful company.

  4. So I checked out the FirstDIBZ placeholder site and it appears the reason for rebranding comes from a desire to expand beyond Tickets to anything…i.e. DIBZ. A better strategy for expansion in my mind would have been sell to eBay/StubHub and start fresh. I will take FirstDIBZ this expansion does not work. It is their challenge to prove me wrong.

  5. Nice find Elliot.
    It’s really quite sad to see a company make such a boneheaded mistake. Ticket Reserve makes plenty of sense to me. I can understand wanting to separate itself from the crowd with a more interesting name, and FirstDibS.com would be good…but c’mon.

  6. Very interesting. I previously posted a very similar argument about a very similar company, called YooNew.com.
    Post: http://www.greentaxi.com/?p=168
    They do almost the exact same business, providing an exchange for sports ticket futures, and chose a domain name of what my brother referred to as “baby sounding names”.
    I was surprised to hear from the company that they actually owned some of the mispellings, such as YouNew.com, yet decided to go with the typo version to be unique. It is not exactly the same as this rebranding, but similiar in that the could have begun with the more common brand type name, yet they choose to try to be unique by complicating it for users even more.
    In the end, I think all of these companies are doing themselves a disservice by moving away from more generic terms to try and create brands. People love to argue about Google and Yahoo, but if those companies had as much power and brand as they do now with a normal name, such as Search.com, they would still be just as powerful and possibly even more so.
    My original post is here:
    http://www.greentaxi.com/?p=168
    My follow up post here:
    http://www.greentaxi.com/?p=294

  7. Hmmm…I agree with the potential problems with the Dibz/Dibs mistake that users might face. That is definitely a potential concern and may cripple business if they cant get the dibs as well. I also do not like the First, not really needed…simply dibs or dibz would have been stronger. However, I do not feel that everyone here is really looking at the industry that ticket reserve must play in here. (most important when looking at branding) The ticketing industry is nasty, established, and cutthroat…and seeing as they do something completely different (sell futures on tickets)…i would assume they were finding it pretty difficult to differentiate against the ticketmasters/stubhubs of the world. they probably got beat on every prospective deal.
    Look at their service, they are simply a middle man…not a ticketing company…this gives them the ability to be the middle man for lots of other things. ticket reserve did not…
    Not the best re-branding name, but definitely understandable.

  8. So whats the update? Looks like they did rebrand.. i never saw the older site, whats the difference now?

    ***UPDATED BY ELLIOT***
    I think the domain name TicketReserve.com is much stronger and easier to recall than FirstDibz.com – especially since they don’t own the name that comes to my mind first – FirstDibs.com. If you tell your buddy, “check out FirstDibz.com,” my guess is he will use an s instead of a z. Now you will have to say, “check out FirstDibz.com with a z.” Just makes it more confusing. TicketReserve.com sounds like a better brand name. You are essentially reserving tickets. First Dibz makes less sense, and it can cause brand confusion.

  9. I invested in Ticket Reserve in 2001, and I always receive mail on what’s going on with the company, but I did not receive anything about the name change! Bad move, will be confused with firstdibs.com, who’s stupid idea was this anyway?

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