The Brand Registry: A CEO’s Vantage

.BRAND registries prepare to innovate their online presence.  How it really happens.

Q1: 2011:  I am Bob, Brand CEO. Today, our senior council advised us to secure our .brand in ICANN’s gTLD program. “Why?”, I asked. He explained it like this:  Defensive – Trademark Uncertainty – High Impact Risks – Innovation Potential.  “I get it – approved!”   Next agenda item…

Q4 2012: “There is a $500,000 line item in G&A expense for year end 2012 related to .brand. Why was it not allocated to marketing, brand, IT or public relations?  Should it be?  Who owns it? Who has a plan?  How do we use it to innovate, define and drive brand awareness, connect with our customers, channels and partners? How will we use this thing to bring life to our brand and gain market share?” Silence…everyone looks at Joyce, our CMO.  I comment further;

“Come on guys – it cannot just be a cost. Council advises we will have it mid-2013 and could launch programs as early as late 2013.  Joyce, give me something, what are you thinking?  What’s going on out there?  What’s the plan?”  I can tell she foresaw the question, she hands me a diagram and is preparing to respond. She is a clear thinker, this will be good and her creative energy is on full throttle. (I love it)

“Bob, we are at the starting line in a race without a clear route, nor a known finish line. That’s OK, it allows us to define the future and innovate on our own terms.  It is also a risk but I know how we can manage it so as not to disrupt current activities and market traction.”

“Today we manage several dozen websites including corporate identity, various campaign and loyalty to product specific and channel partner sites and more.  We also invest heavily creating brand presence and experiences with third party social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and we invest in other related mobile experience technologies. We need to make these investments to drive to customer acquisition run rate targets and to support operations but sometimes we feel we are fueling the third party businesses more than benefiting our own online presence and capabilities.  It is also painfully difficult to attribute sales to specific initiatives. Additionally, these networks can and do evolve according to their business drivers and we cannot control that. We believe we need to maintain and even expand presence in these social networks and mobile technologies, we are challenged to prove which are most efficient use of our marcom spend. And then Bob, there are continually emerging social networks and technologies that we must discover and understand how to leverage.  Frankly, we cannot reasonably spend the cycles and expertise to assess each new thing and make smart proactive planning and investment decisions. Everything is evolving at lightening speed. Yet we cannot ignore latest trends, so we must be nimble operating within the structure of our planning framework.  On top of all this, there is phishing, fraud and piracy of our brand.  They prey on our need for agility, which can result in delivering inconsistency in our brand experience across marketing channels.  All this makes it difficult for us to get our feet planted on firm ground where we build on successes, plan and execute as well as we would like.”

“I would normally not bore you with my headaches but it highlights, how for the first time since digital marketing started to really accelerate a few years ago, I see terra firma and it is our .BRAND REGISTRY.  The registry has the potential to change everything, be our anchor, shift the control paradigm back to us from reliance on social networks, alleviate fraud and piracy.  Here we can invest in our own registry space experiences. Those investments in customer outreach and experiences will provide long term ROI as we develop, measure, analyze and adjust.  As we and other brands launch, the market will come to know that if not on a .brand website then it is not authentic. This is a huge benefit to help combat phishing, fraud and piracy. I believe the market will be quick to adjust to this new reality.”

“What I really like is the registry is ours, we own it, we create, we control, we measure activity, dollars expended and returned in the form of sales. Think of the possibilities: a network of websites on our registry such as customername.brand, product.brand, campaign.brand, channel.brand, support.brand, funstuff.brand etc. Here we can enable personalization, mobile apps, social sharing, live engagement etc., all creating dynamic experiences that customers consume, create and share. We will listen to prospect and customer activity We will respond with relevant content experiences that evidence our brand attributes.  We will know exactly what goes on inside the registry space and how individuals and partners share to outside networks. We will create programs, investing and developing .brand registry network as our anchor online asset from which we influence out to social networks and technologies.  We will design it with flexibility to adapt and integrate new emerging technologies and trends.  Each of which will add value to our registry network itself as it becomes a brand network influencing out and drawing in, to and from external networks. I call it “heliocentricity”, where our brand registry at the center – social networks and technologies interacting around. This is a paradigm shift, where we will control and manage the experience, user behavior and user generated content that benefits us, our customers and our network.  It does not mean we abandon other networks, absolutely not, but it means we will make our registry network/space the focal point of all calls to action.”

“We see this as a strategic imperative. We need your support to invest in a learning strategic plan and the resulting execution actions to make it happen.  It is a multi-year undertaking that will turn the market on its head.  Exactly how – not entirely sure but I know it will happen and I know it is our best shot to deliver and control brand attribute experiences and help us extend and differentiate our brand for the long term.  We can lead it or we can follow.”

“Joyce, #1, let’s lead our category. I get the germ of it; we bring our .brand attributes to our customers in our own space where we invest and make compelling.  We continue to invest in third party networks and innovations but focus on using their capabilities to add value to our space vs. us investing to make their networks stronger.  You have my support.  Let’s get this going.  Work with the brand guys and define the Vision, Strategy and Execution plan.  Keep me posted, I want to help on this one.  Thanks Joyce, nicely articulated, love the diagram”

Next agenda item…

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Does this sound familiar?  Thanks for checking in — Peter


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