There are very few things in life that you do not ever want to change.
One is traditionally your bank. Well, you just know it’s going to be a hassle! You don’t get paid when you are expecting it, money goes to the wrong account, and payments to you bounce back! No, that is a nightmare of issues and a lot of hard work to deal with!
Avoid that one if you can.
The other thing not to ever change might well be your website URL.
Why would you? Everyone knows who you are, don’t they?
There is the SEO value you have built up – the so-called “juice” that brings people to you from web searches – you don’t want to lose that!
It is usually also part of your email address. We should all know what a pain it is to change your email address.
A good URL is also your brand, a key value for the business, changing that will be expensive as the cost and complexity of rebranding is also well known – how will people find you after the change? – Estimates vary based on whether it’s a completely new brand or a re-brand/refresh and if you are in B2C or B2B but the cost estimates online suggest a range from $30K to $250K over a 3-month to 8-month period.
So why would you change your URL?
Are there any good reasons or precedents?
Well, with full consideration, I would probably only say that there is one potentially justifiable voluntary reason. There are several reasons why you might choose to change a brand that was not working; but to go and make a change voluntarily, when the business is going really well, can only be for simplicity.
All of the simple, short and memorable words as URLs are long gone, no longer available and if purchasable, extremely expensive.
Witness the trend towards dropping vowels out of words to create new brands that are almost words and still memorable e.g. Flickr.com, Tumblr.com or Gophr.com
When we started the business and branded it as Huble Digital the obvious URL was huble.com.
It originally appeared to be available at a fairly sensible price of $5K to $10K and the business set about securing it, only to discover that the initial enquiries had not taken into account the greed of the owners, once they knew we were interested. The plans to form the business went ahead but at the last moment, a price of $100K was demanded by the owners.
They overestimated the depth of our pockets and our patience. We decided to settle for hubledigital.com as the URL.
Then, two and a half years later, the owners became discouraged and failed to renew the ownership of the URL. Suddenly we had an opportunity to acquire directly from GoDaddy at less than the original estimated price and we swooped on it!
Now, why are we considering a URL change when we have spent almost three years building up the value in the hubledigital.com URL?
Well, there is one good reason that as a marketeer I would propose a URL change, and all the associated cost and inconvenience, and that is simplicity.
Our justification for the change is purely to go to a five-letter memorable URL that will stand the test of time and create an easy-to-remember and simple-to-type URL.
The shift for us is simple and easy to abbreviate and simplify all of our URLs and all of our many email addresses. Fortunately the concept of “aliasing” allows us to maintain our existing URLs so that in the future www.hubledigital.com and www.huble.com will take you to the same place and all the web pages will have a simple second alias without any loss of SEO value.
So that is done, what’s the next step?
The next step is what the world of B2C spends a fortune on! Letting people know.
Reinforcing that URL with the brand. If we were in the B2C world as Gucci.com or Prada.com or even uber.com, we would be spending a six-figure sum on the branding aspects of the new URL, with taxis and buses and advertising hoardings emblazoned with our URL and our brand. Spending $500K on a brand reinforcement campaign would not be at all unusual for a B2C brand whose business thrives on the notoriety of being seen on every street corner around the many corners of the world where they do business.
We do not consider ourselves to be a global brand, but we do consider ourselves to be a very international brand with offices in London, Munich, Chicago, Singapore and Cape Town so it is important from a sales and recruitment perspective that our brand is well known and easily recognised and therefore the idea of a well-executed international branding programme has to be considered - and the style and presence of the brand must be seen and remembered by our prospective customers and our prospective employees.
Does international branding need to be considered, at the very least?
How much budget do we think we need?
You’ll see the results, so please let me know if you think we spent our money well?