I love branding. No, wait – let me try that again. I LOVE branding. And I love it at all stages, whether we’re talking about coming up with a company name or creating a visual identity that projects a company’s essence and values. Heck, I remember jingles and taglines dating back to my very early youth — I’m still “dewin’ it country cool.”
Given my love affair with branding, you shouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn of my excitement in seeing that domain broker / auctioneer / mass-developer Rick Latona was considering creating a new umbrella brand for his suite of companies. Greater still, Rick was soliciting the feedback of his blog’s readers regarding a potential rebranding… to Cyberspace.com???
First off, I hate the word cyberspace — it’s an outdated term. Honestly, I would feel a tinge of shame typing it into the address bar. And by tinge of shame, I mean that no matter how hard I might try, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to type it. Perhaps it’s for fear that I would be transported back to, oh, I don’t know, 1995. In 1995, I had hair that came down to my chin and pants that didn’t make it half way up my butt. Not a good year for me. I’m not going back.
Beyond being outdated, it’s one of those words that has always felt “off” to me. Didn’t it always feel like cyberspace was a word we came up with to describe the internet to our grandparents? I’m sure if you asked them to explain it, most of them would tell you that there’s real pages of information orbiting the earth, that somehow magically get pulled onto our screens when we push certain buttons. It seems to connote a general lack of understanding about the internet.
The weird thing with a domain like cyberspace.com is it’s one of those domains that at first glance should be great. It’s like a girl who’s what I like to call “distance hot.” This is also known as “I lost my glasses hot.” Fellas, we’ve all been there — you’re eyeing up a girl from across the room, and in your mind she’s already birthed 3 of your children. By the time you get close enough to her to ask her if you can sire her offspring, you notice the mustache and lazy eye (not that there’s anything wrong with mustaches or lazy eyes). Cyberspace.com is distance hot. Cyberspace.com is a tranny (not that there’s anything wrong with trannies).
If you head over to Rick’s site and read the comments, lots of people are saying “killer domain, but not right for you.” I would challenge that it’s not a killer domain. To me, it’s a name with exceedingly minimal potential. If it’s not good for this, what would it be good for? Seriously, this is a company that brokers domains and does web development. What is more cyberspace-ish than that? If you answered with something comparable to Second Life, deduct a million points for being a loser. The correct answer is “nothing.” As a result, this domain is good for nothing.
My advice to Rick (and anyone struggling to brand their company) — I think you should focus more on what your brand helps people accomplish (unless you can get a category-defining generic, like domains.com). Personally, I think “Alchemy” (the fabled process of transmuting a common, low-value substance into a substance of greater value) would be great, except that it’s probably over the head of an average person. You don’t really want a brand that requires a history lesson to be understood. “Monetize” would be a great brand, but I don’t know if the .com could be acquired.
The bottom line is this: Rick’s not really selling domains, or websites. He’s selling earnings. He’s selling a wealth-producing asset. He’s selling profit. A “money tree,” if you will. If possible, the brand should drive to that point (while still being memorable). Cyberspace just doesn’t do it.