Jing Dong paid dearly for its domain, but it has paid dividends in the global marketplace.
When I look at the logo of top ecommerce operator Jing Dong (京东) (pictured), I can’t help but think about the company’s smart domain strategy that lets it serve both the domestic and global markets. Here is my reasoning.
Use 2-pin name with matching domain
Jing Dong is a 2-pin name, which is the most popular Pinyin type. Many Chinese brands adopt 2-pin names, such as Bai Du (Baidu.com), Hua Wei (Huawei.com), and Xiao Mi (Xiaomi.com). Even the 4-pin A Li Ba Ba is commonly referred to as the 2-pin “A Li”. Jing Dong acquired the matching JingDong.com in 2011, according to Wayback Machine.
Upgrade to 2L domain
Jing Dong owned the matching JingDong.com but still invested about $5 million in 2012 to upgrade to JD.com. JD is an acronym for the company’s name, so it is easy to remember. In China, over 65% of consumers visit a website directly, so a short brand-matching domain greatly helps consumers find a website.
Turn 2L domain into global brand
Many Pinyin names are difficult to pronounce outside China, for example, Hua Wei, Xiao Mi, and Zhong Sheng (a Fortune China 100 company). Turning an acronym domain into a global brand solves this problem. Although “Jing Dong” is relatively easy to pronounce, the company has nevertheless chosen to use “JD.com” as its global brand. On the other hand, “Zhong Sheng” is difficult to pronounce and would benefit tremendously if it could be branded as “ZS .com” outside China.
Embed 2L domain in logo
A domain is an address in the digital world. By embedding “JD.com” in its logo, Jing Dong is constantly teaching consumers where they can find the Jing Dong store in the digital world. While no research data is available, panelist Jiehao Yu (CEO of 10.cn) said during Domainfest Asia 2015 (starting 42:33) that he had heard that Jing Dong saved about $20 million in advertising expenses every year after Jing Dong started using JD.com.
I’m not a branding expert, but as I understand, traditional branding is about associating a brand name with a product or service (WHAT). Using “JD.com” as a brand adds the digital address dimension (WHERE). When consumers see the brand “JD.com”, they know it’s about online shopping and they can go to the digital address JD.com to buy all their favorite products.