Feb 14 2013

Hosting.com rebrands to just Hosting

Genius idea or rebranding mistake ?

According to a news piece on their website hosting.com have just rebranded to the shortened name of … Hosting

When Overstock rebranded as O.CO I thought – yeah – I can see that working for them – especially as a lot of what they sell now isn’t overstock as such but manufactured specifically for them to sell – so whilst it contains a “bit of a nod” to the old branding, it’s short, catchy as oh-co – plus its a *lot* easier to type.

Sadly they found out after the event that

  • some browsers auto-corrected it to o.com (which isnt a valid domain)
  • Google SERPS wasnt as good for .co as the domain-hypers promised
  • the average pinterester uses the big “search engine” box in the middle of the browser and doesn’t even know what an address bar is

– so traffic dropped, sales suffered and they went back to primarily being overstock.com

Great idea (IMHO) but it impacted the business, so they took the right decision and reverted back to what worked for them – exactly how expensive a marketing-test that was only they know for sure.

So whereas Hosting.com as a company identity/name had strong branding (it does a ronseal in my opinion) the shift to being called just Hosting is an attempt to “own the term” about 20 years too late.

People call their vacuum cleaner a “hoover” because that was the dominant/only brand at the time they became desirable to have in your home.

People refer to sticky-notes as “post-it notes” because that was the 3M product that every office with a stationary cupboard had little yellow blocks of, and the term fell into common usage as they became ubiquitous.

But the term Hosting is already in modern culture and is a descriptive term, not attached to a specific brand or organisation – there are hosts of varying sizes and qualities worldwide with Hosting in their company name, and hundrewed of thousands of Hosting products – so any attempt to retroactively take control of the word can only fail.

Additionally, as they want to reposition themselves as a cloud provider, everything they do is now labelled “cloud” something – so wouldn’t a new name have been better if it was Cloud related if they want to distance themselves from tradition hosting services ?

sidenote:
The most simplistic definition of "cloud" is anything that involves a remote process - so all Hosting is already Cloud, and because it's the marketing term-of-the-decade, and every analyst is saying "you must have a cloud" (without even knowing what one is or how one works) the term no longer has any technical relevance or meaning.
I've even heard the humble fax machine described as a "cloud document delivery platform" !

A search for Hosting today on Google gets “About 929,000,000 results” – hosting.com are on page 13, a search for hosting.com and they’re right on page 1 along with all those paying ~$30/click for adwords on that exact phrase.

Compounding what I see as a mistake, dropping the .com from their name (and therefore keeping the brand=url making it easier for people to find them), there are three companies currently trying to launch new gTLDs for .hosting and HC aren’t one of those !

You can search the applied for strings of new gTLDs at Applied for new gTLD strings if you want to investigate who did apply.

Time will tell if the rebrand helps or hurt the business, but my money would be on a reversion later this year, along with multiple attempts to strongarm or sue anyone using the word Hosting in their product or company names.
In this industry that’s referred to as the Stelios Scam as it’s a tactic used by Stelios / Easyjet.

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