Over the years we have seen our share of website rebranding and domain name missteps around the Internet and even with some of our clients. But the rebranding launch of Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians may just take the cake.
After months of diligence to secure intellectual property rights for their name change, the team announced their new branding on July 23, 2021. The Cleveland Guardians. There was just one problem: There already is a Cleveland Guardians and it’s a roller derby team in Cleveland. That’s right, the Cleveland Guardians is a men’s roller derby team that formed in 2014. Since then they have been using clevelandguardians.com as well as @clevelandguardians account names for Facebook and Instagram. Ouch.
It is hard for me to say what was the baseball club’s strategy for clearing the rights for their new brand. It is safe to say that this rebranding launch, for a team valued at $1.16 billion, has not gone smoothly. Ultimately, this is a intellectual property issue and scores of lawyers are surely hard at work slogging through this mess. What is for certain is that this kind of situation is avoidable.
Your Domain Name Matters.
Securing a website domain name that matches a business name or campaign is an obvious step in developing a brand, yet too many wait to register that domain. In the realm of domain name registration, nothing good comes from waiting. The minute you decide on a business name is when you should register that domain name, even if you decide on a different name later.
To illustrate this, please find two real tales of domain name woe:
- Client A is a local hospitality business with decades of history running a successful inn and restaurant. They were developing their own rebranding and their new domain name would be incredibly important for this campaign. Unfortunately, one of the owners believed that domain registrars, such as Godaddy, worked with hackers by monitoring searches of prospective domain names, so that they could buy those names first and extort you later. I cautioned him that this was not true, but he delayed registering his domain name for months. By that time, a small hunting lodge in Nova Scotia had already registered the domain two weeks earlier. The client NEVER got that perfect domain name.
- Client B is an economic develop organization whom we were developing a new website and messaging. We defined a domain name that clearly established their location, mission and matched their website identity. The client did not register the domain name right away. Without registering their domain name, they began talking up their efforts to local and regional organizations. They were using the new messaging and assets developed for the website. Someone who attended one of these talks liked our ideas and ended up registering that domain before our client.
- If a business name is good enough to consider using then you should register the domain name right away.
- It is okay to own multiple domain names that you don’t use. You can always not renew the ones you don’t need at a later date.
- Don’t assume your domain name idea is that unique. Someone else will also think of it and register it before you do.
- You should NEVER go public with your new business name or campaign without first registering the domain name.
- Your domain name is a valuable asset for your organization; Treat it as such.
- Seek advice from your marketing consultant or developer who are used to dealing with domain name matters.