Here’s proof that you can be a billion dollar brand without owning a .com domain

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Every time my clients ask me for brand naming services, their natural instinct is to ask for an available .com domain that exactly reflects their brand name. More than 20 years have passed since the .com boom, so that task is becoming increasingly difficult.

Unless the client is an online business, my advice has always been to come up with a good brand name first and take care of the domain second. In the brand naming hierarchy, it usually goes like this:

  1. Secure a killer brand name
  2. Secure trademark availability
  3. Secure a .com domain
  4. Secure social media handles on all relevant platforms

It’s extremely rare that a client is going to secure a premium brand name in all four categories. Usually, they will have to make one or several compromises along the way. The good news is that making a compromise does not determine the success of a business.

On the contrary, here are a few multi-billion dollar brands that don’t own their .com domains.

Alphabet

Current domain: abc.xyz

Alphabet is the parent company of some huge brands: Google, YouTube and Android, just to name a few. To paint the correct picture, Alphabet’s revenue in 2022 was US$282.8 billion. More money doesn’t mean that you could secure a premium .com domain. The alphabet.com domain, at the time of writing, belongs to a (land vehicle) fleet management and consulting firm.

Nissan

Current domain: nissan-global.com

Nissan is an automotive giant from Japan with a long history, and a truly global presence. Their company belongs to an exclusive group of car brands that are both well-known and desired. Their revenue in 2022 was $74.979 billion.

There is an interesting story tied to the nissan.com domain too. The site originally belonged to Uzi Nissan and his small electronics and software business. The Nissan corporation first tried to buy the domain from mr. Uzi Nissan in 1999, and then took him to court. Mr. Uzi Nissan won the case, and kept his rights to use the nissan.com domain. He sadly passed away in 2020, and his site went temporary offline for unknown reasons. The original nissan.com site was successfully archived, and can be browsed on The Wayback Machine.

iPad

Current domain: apple.com/ipad/

iPad has become a huge brand in it’s own right. The product line generates about $20-$30 billion in yearly revenue for Apple, yet it doesn’t own its own .com domain like it’s cousin, the iPhone (iphone.com). At the time of writing the domain ipad.com displays a non-distinct “Coming Soon” page.

Skoda

Current domain: skoda-auto.com

Skoda is Czech automotive giant that’s now a part of Volkswagen. Skoda is another car manufacturer that doesn’t own their own .com domain. Is this a common occurrence among the automotive industry?! Skoda’s revenue in 2021 was about $18 billion. At the time of writing the domain skoda.com belongs to a personal blog, and they have been so nice to dedicate a “…links page to other Skoda’s on the Internet.” Very wholesome and lovely!

Peloton

Current domain: onepeloton.com

The stationary bicycle phenomenon grew in popularity and revenue extremely quickly. Peloton Interactive’s revenue for 2022 was $3.052 billion. What’s even more fascinating is that Peloton is an online media company and they succeeded to have that stellar growth without securing a .com domain. As of writing, the domain peloton.com belongs to an oil and gas software company.

Your business doesn’t need social media. Here’s why

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It appears we have entered the late stages of social media adaptation. Each business and organization wants to be in the social media marketing “game”. Social media today is not a question of IF, but a question of HOW MUCH. It does not matter if you’re an online shop for toys or a hedge fund investor – you have to have your social media presence and rock at it as well!

As a strategist, this both irks me and sends shivers down my spine. It irks me because social media does not represent a strategy in and of itself, and it sends shivers down my spine because business owners are following a market (and a cultural) impulse without realizing what they are getting themselves into.

Today, social media is displaying the symptoms of market saturation and many late-adopters are getting cluelessly into the game that’s been actively going for more than a decade.

Facebook has started losing its youth appeal as early as 2013 and today is recognized as the “social network for boomers”. Instagram has lost all its validity with its out-of-touch influencer and #wonderlust culture and has recently become a jumbled mess. LinkedIn is basically “Facebook for work stuff” and is littered with random posts like Chinese children bouncing basketballs (this should signify teamwork by the way).

Despite the increasing “uncoolness” of social networks, these companies are not what they used to be in terms of reach, engagement and return on investment. Organic reach can comfortably be pronounced as dead and social media’s greedy “ads upon ads upon ads” strategy will make sure that your ad will is less likely to be seen. If engagement with the social platforms themselves is in decline overall, what makes business owners think that it is a good idea to invest into a social media strategy / marketing by default?

Don’t get me wrong, having a social media marketing strategy is not a terrible idea in and of itself, but businesses and organizations have to be able to connect the dots between their industry, brand identity and most importantly, their audience. The problem is, they usually don’t.

To prove my point, let’s reflect about how many abandoned and social media business profiles / pages are in the world right now? Millions? Tens of millions? To be honest, one is already one too many because for a small business, investing time and resources in social media can be a matter of life and death. This circles back to my initial point that businesses aren’t aware of what they are getting into. Owners initially consider social media to be easy and a secure investment. (Un)fortunately, they get disillusioned very quickly.

To close off, here are some strategic questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should invest in a social media strategy:

  • How do customers usually hear about your business?
  • How are your (potential) customers using social media, and what do they use it for?
  • Are you offering mass-market products or services that are accessible and easy to understand or are they complex, expensive, technical and/or highly-specialized?
  • Is your product or service unique and highly personalized? Does it depend on forming close relationships with clients?
  • How would your sales funnel look like within your social media strategy? How will you generate and convert qualified leads with social media?
  • What are the marketing or sales channels that currently work for you? Would they perform better if you invested more resources in them instead of developing new ones?

I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

Is knowledge the #1 force in marketing right now?

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Marketing in the B2B sector is all about knowledge.

It is so valuable that it has turned into the main driving force behind customer acquisition. Especially in the B2B sector, people are always on the lookout for the best insight, strategies, and advice. Blogs, webinars, presentations, e-books, white papers, workshops… the web is teeming with offers to exchange knowledge for e-mails.

While all knowledge is valuable, you have to be acutely aware of what kind of knowledge to produce. Only produce and share things your potential customers will find valuable. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending a lot of time and energy to get nothing in return. By producing content that does not result in engagement and interest is the same as running at a loss.

Content is king, but context is queen. You have to serve both first to even have a chance at exchanging your services for money.

Here’s a quick template for your personal brand statement

Want a quick 4-question template to help you build your personal brand statement? Read on below.

1. What’s your name?
2. What’s one thing you are good at that people can hire you for?
3. What kind of customer can you help the most with your service? / Who’s your ideal customer?
4. What kind of results does your work achieve?

Template: “My name is (1) and I am a (2) who helps (3) to (4).”

Example: “My name is Stefan Nikolovski and I’m a brand consultant who helps small businesses and startups create and maintain authentic brands that can reach their audiences in a meaningful way and create lasting relationships.”

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I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

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Startup naming is more difficult than it sounds

What will be your first big compromise as a startup? Your business name.

This fact is not often shared, but getting a good name for your startup is extremely hard nowadays, and there are three interdependent barriers in your way;

1. Copyright
2. Web Domain
3. Social media handles

It is extremely rare to hit jackpot with all three and you will have to compromise with a name that doesn’t quite meet your standards, hopes and vision.

There are a lot of creative naming techniques used in branding that can expand your options and get you closer to your vision like exploring, synonyms, terms in other languages, fusing two or more words together… but almost inevitably, you’ll end up is going to feel like a compromise.

A compromise does not mean total failure though, and the name chosen will serve you well and grow on you with time and hopefully with your customers. Just be careful not to pick a name that sounds offensive or that is the opposite of your brand’s values.

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I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

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You need to think of your social media strategy as people strategy

There are no hacks and shortcuts to a genuine connection. When it comes to social media , you have to realize that you are addressing real people with real lives, with real hopes and desires.

Sharing a generic quote, a random selfie or 5 tips to success just doesn’t cut it anymore. I’m not saying these types of posts are bad in and of themselves, but you have to find a genuine way in which your brand can touch people’s hearts.

When thinking of a social media strategy – think of it as people strategy. Don’t focus on vanity metrics such as likes, but go after building genuine relationships.

Today’s algorithms will reward you for it too. They have been reprogrammed to measure the relevance your posts have for your audience. If you’re in it just for the likes, the algorithm will see right through you.

Instead of doing things the old way, evolve and think about how to be more authentic, sincere and relevant.

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I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

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Your social media should be about your customers

Your social media should never be about you. Your social media needs to always be about THEM – your customers.

This especially goes if you have or manage a business social media account. While you can endlessly post vanity selfies on your personal account, people don’t want to constantly see how great your business is. Who cares!?

Instead, produce content that is useful and can give value and serve your customers in the best way. Be educational, be entertaining, save them time, make their life easier, offer them opportunities…

You create influence by giving value. Make it about THEM so they get back to you for more.

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I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

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What’s the difference between $95, $99.99 and $100?

What’s the difference between $95, $99.99 and $100?

Objectively speaking, the difference is next to nothing to about 5 bucks, but the way you “design” your prices can communicate a lot about your brand.

Ending your prices with a 9 always signifies a bargain, while using a 5 or a 0 as the last number of a price signifies more stability, quality and prestige.

If you have a luxury product or a service, it’s smart to round your prices to 0, but if you have a product that offers good value, then it’s a good idea to reduce the left digit by one and end your price with a 9.

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I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

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If you want to be unique, you have to stop looking at others

I’ve been on so many couch conferences , webinars , presentations and hangouts lately and I saw how people in these events take an inordinate amount of time to look at the good work of others. Although good examples are useful to take note of, you will never achieve greatness this way. Things won’t magically start happening for your business by osmosis. What the presenters in these online events won’t tell you is that ingenuity takes work and it takes guts to stand out. And you can stand out only if you dig within yourself and bring forward your unique core.

There are no blueprints to your own uniqueness. The blueprint is YOU. Cancel all of your webinars and dedicate that time to discover who you are and what your business is instead. This is what makes a leader. Leaders are the ones paving paths to new, risky uncharted territories. All of the businesses you see in those presentations paved their own way, that is why they stand out. But their success is not yours. It’s time to start paving your own way in your own way.

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I am a brand consultant leading organizations and individuals to their hearts. You can connect with me here:

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