Don’t Be A Smuck: A Costly Lesson About Smuckers.com

I was checking out a post on LinkedIn from Will Nitze, where he’s explaining why he spent almost $30k to upgrade his domain name and I came across an interesting comment from Darren Silverman, talking about his days at the Smuckers company. Darren says …

Good for you Will Nitze. Do it now When it’s a least a bit attainable and not total robbery. I was with Smuckers from 2000 – 2005.

We didn’t own “SMUCKERS.COM” because the company name is officially “The J.M. Smucker Company”, and no one really figured the internet was going to be a thing…… 

So our website was jmsmucker.com, but they did not lock up Smuckers.com which was just the brand name with over 90% HH recognition.

Some Plumber somewhere in the US had the name Smucker and ran “Smuckers Plumbing” and he locked up Smuckers.com. 

Not sure what year they finally bought it, and how much $$ they paid, but my guess it was a sizable price!!

Not that you probably cared, but anyway this concludes story telling from the good ol’ days of CPG.

( end comment )

What The Smuck?

Ask yourself this …


How does a multi-billion dollar, publicly-traded company with a “Household Name”, NOT own their brand name online?


How did they allow a plumber to own them – own THEIR brand name?


Why did they end up probably paying hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, to obtain the domain name?

I wasn’t in the boardroom, so I can’t say exactly what or who caused this massive blunder over at Smucker’s, but in my experience, this is what normally happens when you have company execs that don’t keep up with the times, don’t understand the internet and don’t understand digital branding/marketing.

This is what happens when you have company execs who are arrogant, let their ego get in the way and don’t listen.

This is what happens when you don’t own the root word domain of your brand in .COM

We live in an ever-increasing digital world, so whoever owns a particular brand name online, especially in .COM, they are the true owners of that name in the eyes, hearts, and minds of consumers.

If you’re launching anything that’s considered a big deal, your customers expect to find you online, using premium digital real estate, which is usually the root word, exact-match brand name, in .COM

The mistake a lot of companies make when launching something new is that they don’t secure the best digital real estate, not only for the company name, but also for the brand names of their products and services.

All roads should lead to you, so competitors can’t piggy-back or even another company can’t come along and start using the name in a different business category, spending a ton of marketing dollars, drowning you out and effectively dominating all the communication around that particular brand name.

And that’s the name game – not just naming your company, product or service something … but dominating all the communication around that name, so when you call something “Smucker’s”, you own the mindshare and are the only Smucker’s that matters.

As I said previously, we’re living in an ever-increasing digital world and businesses that can’t keep up will learn some very costly lessons – some lessons may even put them out of business.

Sometimes when another company acquires the root word, exact-match domain name you want – it’s gone for good.

Then you may have to do an expensive rebrand, because another company owns the mindshare on the brand name you want.

Smucker’s was able to correct their blunder, but the fact that they let a plumber with the same last name own them, is just ridiculous!

Nobody saw that coming?

I’m sure some exec (CEO and/or CMO) said “Aaah we don’t need it – nobody else is gonna come along and use that name” – UNTIL THEY DID!

And from my experience, especially in the fact that the sale is most likely under NDA, I’d be highly surprised if they didn’t pay at least 6 to 7-figures for that domain name.

The Lesson Here: Don’t be a Schmuck Smuck!

Be smart and acquire the root word, exact-match domain name for your brand, before another company does.

Naming Advice: Before naming your company, product or service, first make sure that the name you desire is ownable – can you get the exact-match .COM, exact-match social media handles, etc. ???

Don’t think you’re clear, just because you can get a business registration or Trademark. Trademarks have many classes, so another business can easily come along and start using the same name in a completely different business category.

Plus, a business registration and/or Trademark means nothing if someone else owned the digital real estate before your mark AND owning it online should be the first order of business.

Where will the majority of consumers learn about your products? – Through their phone – online.

— The Name Guy™

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