Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea of branding the Chinese way. As I understand it, branding is about associating products or services with a name. Global brands such as Nike spend million dollars every year in advertising and promotion so that when I think running shoes I think Nike or vice versa.
Domain names add a new dimension to branding. Think for a moment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when consumers want to buy a product or service, they remember a brand to choose and also where they can buy it? Using the same example, if I want to buy a pair of running shoes, I instantly think of Nike and know I can go to Nike.com to buy the shoes. Simple and straight forward. I think this may be the ultimate goal of branding: associating products/services with a brand name and its digital address. How powerful! You just come directly to the store. You don’t need any guide to take you to the store.
Now let’s look at China. Chinese consumers remember names in Chinese characters — so Alibaba is 阿里, Yahoo is 雅虎, and Softbank is 软银. If brands are remembered as Chinese names, then it follows that domain names should be easier to remember as Chinese characters.
A recent registration of Chinese IDN domain name 阿里.商城 (Ali.Mall where Ali is the short form for Alibaba) by Alibaba shows me this potential. When I see the name, I know immediately I can buy Alibaba products from this address. The name and its extension connect well and form a cohesive and meaningful term.
Which Chinese IDN extensions are good for use by brands? The following table list some extensions that I think flow well with a brand name. I have also included their latest registration numbers taken from Namestat.org.
|.集团 (corporate group)||989|
.公司 (company) and .集团 (corporate group) are commonly found in a company’s legal name so are easily recognized by Chinese consumers. .世界 (world) is good because it gives you the impression that a brand on this extension is big. .商城 (mall) is useful when a brand wants to focus on ecommerce.
As you can see from the numbers, Chinese IDN domain names are not popular at this moment. However, considering how Chinese IDN domain names are closely aligned with the Chinese culture, I have hope that in the long run Chinese IDN domain names will be widely used by Chinese consumers.