Do we need domain suffixes?

Kids and the Internet - They don't do domains
Kids and the Internet - They don't do domains

I’ve been wondering for some time now whether the .com. .co.uk. .net and .eu suffixes are all we need to buy when we launch a new brand for a client. We don’t want to make the mistake of Wolff Olins, when they were preparing to launch ‘Introducing Monday ‘ back in 2002.

They forgot to buy the .co.uk and b3ta placed a joke site in it’s place, effectively stopping the launch altogether and wasting £7m of PriceWaterhouse Coopers consulting’s money in the process. But we all found it very funny indeed and it did at least launch the brilliant b3ta into the big time.

But for me now, I wonder whether we will need domain names at all soon. If the research from TGI Europa as far back as 2008 BA (Before Apps) is true, then 87% of all Internet activity starts with a Google search. So, domains will become irrelevant. If you watch the ways kids use the Internet, they either go directly through Apps on the iPad or they go to Google and key the name of the site they want. So to get to Facebook, they either app it, or go via Google.

If this is true, then pretty soon, Google is bound to stop showing the domain suffix anyway. We’ll just be delivered to the Facebook area, the Ebay area or even the Oxford United area and we’ll become less and less concerned with what specific domain this is on.

So for brand owners, it’s about building your name again. Forget the domain name, concentrate on the name itself. That’s where Google will be going in the future.

Article first published as The way the Internet works is changing“ domain suffixes are dead on Technorati.

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Online advertising overtakes TV – but brands will suffer if they ignore it

It was announced on the BBC (so it must be right then!) that spending on online advertising in the UK has overtaken the spend on TV advertising for the first time. It came from a report prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the Internet Advertising Bureau.

Online spending grew 4.6% to £1.752bn – which doesn’t sound that large a growth in what is such a young and explosive market – whilst TV advertising fell by a rather more substantial 16.1% to £1.639bn.

This is great isn’t it?

All clients are becoming much more savvy and spending their money where they can get a measurable return and not throwing any of their hard kept budget at more general profile raising ads.

I think this is not great, not great at all, as brands will suffer in the long term for doing so.

Brilliant virals change perceptions, we all know that, but brilliant TV advertising changes generations. It just has a far greater impact than another click through to a website by someone bored in their office on a quiet Friday.

Internet advertising must be part of any advertising mix that’s obvious, but so must profile raising clever TV ads, if you want to create and maintain a world brand.

When Nick Kamen stepped out of his pants in a launderette ad for Levis, he literally rebuilt their brand from that day forward. He gave them ‘cool’ and they have worked hard ever since to keep it.

I can think of thousands of transformational TV ads, but Virals, with very few exceptions are often just a gag that wears thin all too fast. Its the creatives having a hoot and winning awards. But is it really winning them customers or just massive click through rates? When Chris Tarrant, presents them on late night TV, how much good is that really doing for the brand?

And the best bit?

The irony that it was PwC reporting the demise of TV ads.

PwC were the people who were laughed at through massive viral campaign of changing their name to ‘Introducing Monday’ in 2002 by the hilarious viral geniuses at B3ta. If you don’t remember that, have look here and here.

Pw C - We've got your name and you are a donkey
PwC - We've got your name and you are a donkey

It was the viral that created virals, but its brilliance was in its irreverence, not in its conformity.

If I owned a consumer brand, I’d be sticking by TV for a long time yet.

A stunning article on new brand thinking

This is a stunning article from FusionBrand in Malaysia, commenting on the poor year had by Ogilvy and Mather in China and the reaction of their chairman TB Song.

Read it here

What it says to me is that the future for branding and advertising agencies is a very uncertain one unless they begin to offer measurable ROI on what they do for their clients. This means measurability everywhere.

Rewarding advertising agencies by how much space they buy for you is a dead model. Rewarding them by how much sales revenue they generate will help sharpen their ideas in a massive way, but only if they are allowed to control more of the experience than just the televisual element.

As a design and brand agency it was traditional that we could change logos and create wonderful new design literature, websites, direct mail and all sorts of marketing ‘collateral’ that would win over clients the world over.

But those days are gone. We have to change the core of the businesses now, in order to change the brand.

Brands are born in the customer experience and not in the logo you choose to hang above it. The logo can only ever be a symbol that the customer has arrived in the right place to enjoy their branded experience. Change the logo in isolation and you change nothing. Change the customer experience and mark it with a new logo and you could indeed change the world for that customer.

Unless we have enlightened brand owners who allow designers to enjoy and subsequently manage the ongoing brand experience, one of us will disappear. The old adage ‘if two people in a business always agree, then one of them is unnecessary’ rings truer now than ever before.

Branding as topic that has been fiercely debated and that everyone has an opinion on (right or wrong). Done well, it changes the basis of a business forever. Done badly, it’s a poor old waste of money that brings the industry into disrepute and has been practiced by many since Introducing Monday and Consignia started the trend downwards with the most pointless and superficial logo changes masquerading as rebrands.

So, to all enlightened clients feel free to get in contact and I’ll show you the difference between a new logo, a pointless change and a really brilliant piece of branding that will directly benefit your business and its customers in the long term.