June 8

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WHEN HISTORY CARDS BECAME HISTORY KARDS


IDEA AS BRAND MARKETING STRATEGY

Not every great idea comes complete with an equally brilliant brand marketing strategy. Few do. It's one thing to have a great idea and another thing entirely to sell it. Proper branding can make or break a product. A good branding choice can carry you a long way on a limited budget, whereas a bad one might not work for any amount of money. 

On top of this, projects evolve and change. It's important to think about your branding from early on—even from the very beginning. But it's also important to remain flexible, because the brand which was so perfect for one version of a product might not be for the finished one.

In any event, this particular project is one of those obvious ones which did not require any great creativity on my part. When the idea of History Cards popped into my head, my next thought (because I'm a marketing dork) was: "And the name is the brand! Awesome!!!"

However, the totally obvious choice ended up as a loser, of a sorts. What began as a "no brainer" ended with a change of mind.

GENESIS

I originally decided to call my history-related playing cards series History Cards, with a capital 'C'—simple, straight and to the point. Right? That I couldn't get the .com domain for the name didn't bother me too much. Other domain extensions were available, though it's common wisdom (and probably actually true) that ".com" is still the best, overall.

The theory goes that when people think of websites, they think of ".com"—right? I mean, when was the last time you thought of ".net" or ".org" for that matter? Sure, they're still two of the "big three" original TLDs (top level domains), but who uses them? These days, almost nobody. Even charities and non-profits tend to use ".com," which is pretty funny since such organizations are explicitly non-commercial, and ".org" is specifically for such utilizations.

However, there's a counter argument, insofar as using a non-.com domain. That is, the domain would still be "HistoryCards"—short, sweet, memorable, to the point. For a number of reasons (from branding to SEO), I thought it would make sense to go this route. Following this decision, I decided to go with .xyz because it is, IMHO, the most memorable of the new TLDs. So, I was reasonably happy with HistoryCards.xyz

Would I have preferred HistoryCards.com? Sure. Of course. But again, I couldn't get it. So, as far as I was concerned, I settled for the next best thing.

SECOND THOUGHTS

Staircase wit is one of my special talents. And so is second-guessing myself. I can talk myself into just about anything, and just about as easily talk myself out of it, too. :-/

Not long after making the "History Cards decision," the dread second thoughts began to stir. As I worked along, the thought kept bugging me that while HistoryCards.com was long gone, HistoryKards.com was available and ready for the taking. Not incidentally, the "k" thing is on brand for me personally, as you may have noticed herein. Though never a planned affectation initially, I started substituting "k" for "c" on this site and in my work whenever and wherever possible, both to be a tad bit jarring—and therefore more memorable—and because it's a play on my broadly Germanic/Nordic (GerMannik/Nordik?) heritage. Besides, if I could get a .com, that would make up for the unusual spelling—though that, in and of itself, made it memorable and more brand worthy.

I mean, look at all the companies today which have made small (or large) fortunes with completely non-sense but memorable ones. Sadly, there is no ".kom" though. ????

Even more than HistoryCards.xyz, HistoryKards.com began to sing to me. And the more I tried to tell myself that I should ignore this gut-level impulse, the harder and harder it was to disregard. It really began to eat at me.

So, I was talking myself out of what I'd talked myself into. Go figure. What little I lost with a "c" was more than made up for by a "k". Even the SEO argument was not very strong; with just a little bit of traction, people searching for "history cards" will still find "history kards"!

Besides, the great thing about domains is that they can be pointed anywhere. I knew I could (and since have) pointed HistoryCards.xyz to this site, just as HistoryKards.com will, if and until I decide to build out a dedicated site. I can tell you one thing, though; that's' not gonna happen unless the project takes off and becomes a viable commercial one. Only then would it be worth the trouble!

One of the reasons I originally chose "HistsoryCards.xyz" was for SEO reasons. I want to rank for the term "history card(s)"—even though, at this point, it's not a term people search for.

Finally, I just like the look of History Kards over History Cards. To me, it's just stronger. And as I said before, I think it's notably memorable whereas the original version is kinda bland, and therefore not especially so. Not that, either way, it makes that much of a difference. If you can't remember some historical playing cards as "history cards"—however you spell it—it doesn't much matter if you spell it with a Q.

This brings to mind the great Monty Python sketch where a character being interviewed on TV explains that his name is Raymond Luxury Yacht, but it's pronounced Throat Warbler Mangrove.



But I digress...

THE CHANGEOVER BEGINS

So, the other day, I woke up with my mind changed. "F*ck it," I thought. You can argue it either way, but in the end, it comces down to personal preference. My feeling was that "History Kards" was just going to be better, long run, than boring old "History Cards." It was that simple.

But there was a further complication. As I'd already started using HistoryCards.xyz, switching over to HistoryKards.com was going to entail redoing some art and purging pieces that were already out there. Ugh. That was a moderately big downside to contemplate, and it almost talked me out of the changeover. But ultimately, I decided to make the change now, when the pain would be limited, rather than sitting pat and becoming increasingly restive and regretful about it.

I just knew that end of the day, I was not going to be happy with History Cards. And the longer I waited, the worse it would get from a "rebrand" standpoint.

So, I took the plunge. History Kards it is.

All things considered, I believe the new version of the name is better than the old, and a better overall brand marketing strategy.

What do you think? 

About the Author

Mann is a former Hollywood/Fortune 500 Wunderkind/Creative Director who was lucky enough to escape the ad biz with his integrity and sanity still intact. Well, mostly.

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