Create a new digital brand

It may be necessary to create an entirely new digital brand if the existing offline brand has negative connotations or is too traditional for the new medium. An example of an entirely new digital brand was the Egg banking service which is part of Prudential, a well-established company. Egg can take new approaches without damaging Prudential's brand, and at the same time not be inhibited by the Prudential brand. Egg is not an entirely online brand since it is primarily accessed by phone. Egg now encourages some of its million-plus customers to perform all their transactions online. Another example of a new digital brand was the Go portal which was created by Disney, who desired to be able to 'own' some of the many online customers who are loyal to one portal. It was felt they could achieve this best through using a completely new brand. The Disney brand might be thought to appeal to a limited younger audience. However, the new brand was not sufficiently powerful to compete with the existing Yahoo! brand and has now failed.

Some of the characteristics of a successful brand name are suggested by de Chernatony and McDonald (1992): ideally it should be simple, distinctive, meaningful and compatible with the product. These principles can be readily applied to web-based brands. Examples of brands that fulfil most of these characteristics are CDNow, CarPoint, BUY.COM and e-STEEL. Others suggest that distinctiveness is most important: Amazon, Yahoo!, Expedia, Quokka.com (extreme sports), E*Trade, and FireandWater (HarperCollins) books.

Ries and Ries (2000) suggest two rules for naming brands. (a) The Law of the Common Name - they say 'The kiss of death for an Internet brand is a common name'. This argues that common names such as Art.com or Advertising.com are poor since they are not sufficiently distinctive. (b) The Law of the Proper Name - they say 'Your name stands alone on the Internet, so you'd better have a good one'. This suggests that proper names are to be preferred to generic names, e.g. Handbag.com against Woman.com or Moreover.com against Business.com. The authors suggest that the best names will follow most of these eight principles: (1) short, (2) simple, (3) suggestive of the category, (4) unique, (5) alliterative, (6) speakable, (7) shocking and (8) personalised. Although these are cast as 'immutable laws' there will of course be exceptions!

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