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Is your brand name a “Chinese Gooseberry”?

2014-09-16

If you haven't heard of a Chinese Gooseberry, you're not alone. Chinese gooseberry was later, unsuccesfully, rebranded to Melonette. Only when it changed name to Kiwi, people started to get hooked on this exotic fruit.

Having the right brand name can work wonders. Is your brand a Chinese Gooseberry or a Kiwi? Answer the questions below to check if your brand name is either a Chinese Gooseberry or a Kiwi. [WATU 2] Many businesses suffer from a bad brand name. Usually their website address is then brandname.com, so the bad brand name leads to a bad domain name. A wide choice in domain names The great news though is that any business which have a bad brand name can rebrand AND get the right domain name. This was not always the case, as earlier you had to go after the .com domain name, and you could end up paying five or six figures to get it on the aftermarket. With the new domain extensions, the aftermarket has become less important, and businesses now have a wide choice when looking for the right domain name. In the following I will describe why businesses end up with "Chinese Gooseberry" brands and practical examples thereof. Brevity rocks Let me introduce you to George Lois, the inspiration for Mad Men. He reigned in the 60's and knew a thing or two about branding.

One of his rules was to "keep it short", because it will be easier to remember. E.g. Lois convinced Haloid-Xerox to rebrand to Xerox. At the time it was a hard sell, however today it seems so logical. Short brands rock. Have a look at all the short brand names on Interbrand's top 100 brand list. So I'm asking you: Is your brand name short and memorable?

Should you change your domain name?

The new domain extensions were designed for start-ups, however owners of many older websites have changed their website's domain name from .com to .ski, .london, .whatever. Sure it makes sense that a website selling ski equipment wants to replace their .com or .net with a .ski. However I don't agree with the decision unless you have done some research first. Don't fix what's not broken. If your customers are used to your .com domain, and it has a good ring to it, then I don't see why you should change it. However no rule without exceptions. In some cases old websites could use a face lift, and here the new domain extensions come to the rescue. These websites have non memorable, long domain names, which is as clumsy as a "Chinese Gooseberry".

The birth of "Chinese Gooseberry" brands

"Chinese Gooseberry" brands happen particularly for three reasons:

1. You have based the brand name on the .com domain and got too stubborn when you couldn't get your first priority. That's where we see +10 character .com domains with a hyphen (-) in them. I remember when we started European Domain Centre back in 2003, we did go through a list of possible company names, which were shorter and more memorable. I really liked Domain 24/7, but the domain name domain247.com was taken. While I'm quite happy with the domain name and company name today, it's still too long. Don't choose the domain name over the brand name.

2. Your company is part of a merger, and the new brand name is a combination of the merging brands. When the two publishers Penguin and Random House merged, they ended up with Penguin Random House and the horrible penguinrandomhouse.com domain for the website. When Price Waterhouse and Coopers merged it took them 12 years to abandon the tongue twisting PriceWaterhouseCoopers for PwC, which today is a great brand name with a short, memorable pwc.com domain for their website. Law firms change name when a new partner is added. One of the more absurd is the partner crowded Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf. Yes, it's a real company.

3. The product you sell is part of your brand name, and your business just suffered a technology upgrade. DVDgo.com is a Spanish website selling DVDs. Everyone's streaming, so they are stuck with an outdated brand name. Another example is RadioShack, which is an American electronics retail chain. They don't sell so many radios anymore, and the brand name seems antiquated. They have desperately tried to be known as "The Shack". I hope this has given you some thought regarding your own brand name. Be aware that rebranding requires preparation and should not be taken lightly. I would recommend you to get the domain name, as soon as you have selected the new brand name. Don't wait until it's too late.

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