Rightside: A Personal Branding Company

No, I didn’t leave the industry and I’m not changing jobs. However, it occurred to me the other day that our industry is different from how I used to view it and how I used to describe it to others. Here is how the usual exchange of introductory pleasantries used to go between me and people I would meet (usually at my kids’ basketball games):

  • Parent: “I heard you recently moved here from the East Coast. What brought you to Seattle?”
  • Me: “My work. I was hired by a company based in Kirkland. It’s called Rightside.”
  • Parent: “Great. What does Rightside do?”
  • Me: “Rightside is a domain name services company. We sell web addresses, like GoDaddy does, but we also own 39 of our own top level domain names, like .LAWYER, and .SOCIAL, similar to a .com but now you don’t need to get a name ending in com. You can get a dot whatever depending upon what your interest or business is.”
  • Parent: “Oh, nice. That’s great.”
  • [momentary pause … ]
  • Parent: “Your daughter is playing well …”

A “domain name services company.” Really? That’s how I describe my business? While my statement about Rightside was true, I completely failed to make Rightside sound interesting and I also failed to accurately convey what Rightside is trying to do. Rightside sells domain names, sure, including our owned and operated Top Level Domains (TLDs), but that’s not innovation, and that’s not who we are–a simple commodity business.

What I believe Rightside really is, is a personal branding company. We provide the tools that enable individuals and companies to establish or enhance their brand online and we do this by offering more specific and relevant domain names and other related services.

A few months ago I read an article in Fast Company about the author getting a personal brand makeover. The author interviewed “personal brand” consultants who preached the importance of managing one’s identity online and gave tips on how to do it–mostly using current social media platforms. Well, guess what? That’s what we advise too and, what’s more, we are PROVIDING the key tools to do it. We are brand consultants and we are preaching this message: “Don’t let Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, or Twitter control your identity or brand; YOU control it and one of the best ways to control it is by using a more specific, relevant domain name or email address.” That domain names are important branding tools isn’t a novel concept, but thinking of ourselves as brand consultants for businesses and individuals vs. a domain name services company sure feels a lot different to me.

So what happened? New TLDs happened–rejuvenating the awesome functionality of domain names with really memorable and descriptive options. And it’s our job to tell and live this evolution of our industry; the more we do the more businesses and consumers will understand and the quicker new TLDs will be adopted.

So how to start living it?

Here is how my future exchange of pleasantries is going to go from now on:

  • Parent: “I’m glad that you like it here in Seattle. What does Rightside do?”
  • Me: “Rightside is a personal branding company. Starting with a new domain name like .DENTIST or .GIVES, we provide the tools that allow individuals and businesses to develop and manage their identity online and control their social media presence on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.”
  • Parent: “Wow. Really? That’s interesting. My wife is starting her own consulting business and wants a website. What domain name should she get?”
  • Me: “Well, I would start with registering a .CONSULTING domain name and pointing that to her LinkedIn page. She can also use her new domain name for a great branded email address to communicate with her new clients. Tell her to go to Name.com. They’ll hook your wife up with all the tools she needs to start owning her professional brand.
  • Parent: “That’s great. I will.”
  • [momentary pause…]
  • Parent: “Wow. Taylor really took out that girl on that last play. That’s her fourth foul, right?
  • Me: “Yep, that’s my girl.”

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KIRKLAND, Washington— January 13, 2014 –Rightside, the domain name services division of Demand Media (NYSE: DMD), today is pleased to announce the recent appointments of Tracy Knox as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Kelly Johnson as Senior Vice President of Marketing. Both will join the team in Kirkland, Washington, and serve to further strengthen the…