If some ideas can be both deceptively simple and potentially groundbreaking, then this might be one: Put your company’s name on the right side of the dot in its Internet address. This is the premise behind ICANN’s (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) proposal calling for the expansion of generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) to incorporate company brands and other specified categories.
No longer will companies be limited to dot com (or dot info, or any other variant) — it will be .mycompany. By any definition, a branded Top-Level Domain (bTLD) represents a huge opportunity.
This change will require a dramatic mind shift, given how accustomed we are to the basic vocabulary of the Internet. To put it bluntly, the Internet is vast, but the language used to navigate it is tiny. For marketers, this is uncharted territory. All the techniques developed around digital marketing essentially build on the same few suffixes: dot info, dot com, dot org, etc. However, with the right mix of strategy and innovation, companies making the transition stand to reap tremendous benefits, and ensure a much stronger online brand.
Build Trust in Your Brand
Establishing your company’s own gTLD offers all potential customers a guarantee that they are on an authentic Web site. This, in turn, greatly reduces the chances of phishing, scamming and lookalike sites from either sending the customer to a competing site or direct fraud. The key concept here is increase in conversion; a trusted site will lead to a higher conversion in e-commerce sales.
Safeguard Your Brand Supply Chain
Next, think about extending that trust through your chain of affiliates, partners, sales channels, etc. By owning both sides of the dot, your company gets to decide which other entities may register a domain name ending with your brand. This also assures customers that they’re dealing with a certified dealer or an approved agent, and extends the chain of trust you have established. The advantages become evident in fields such as real estate, technology and software, insurance, and consumer packaged-goods, but as with everything else Internet-related, other use cases will materialize.
Put Your Brand in Bright Lights
No matter how catchy your domain name is, anything ending with dot com is just that: another “dot com.” The fact that we instinctively think of this suffix is a sign of just how hard it is to stand out by using it. Used this way, your brand is not a standalone brand. Appropriating the right side of the dot erases this hurdle instantly; with a branded gTLD, every listing of your company’s web address now serves as a brighter billboard.
Make Your Brand Accessible
The ability to administer every name to the left of the dot has benefits beyond extending to your agent channel. Running a new campaign? Goodbye odd names, long names, and awkward juxtapositions; hello, brand-specific, product-directed, customer-friendly alternatives that make instant sense. For example, we could go from canon.com to professional.canon, imaging.canon, and of course, shop.canon. For the company, it’s infinitely easier to cross-promote; for the customer, it’s that much easier to remember.
Go Brand Wild
Finally, there’s the other kind of bottom-line benefit: savings. Today, many companies are required to engage in defensive monitoring and maneuvering to guard against cybersquatters infringing on their intellectual property. The dot com versions of slogans, trademarks and catchphrases have to be reserved and just sit there. Options before the dot com are extremely limited, but before a dot Brand there are virtually endless possibilities. The company that owns the dot Brand controls every phrase before it.
This is a big change, and it involves a serious investment. As companies strive to maintain their competitive edge, e-commerce models continue to evolve. Marketers are challenged with finding new ways of connecting more intimately with their customers and other audiences, a branded Top-Level Domain offers brands the chance to engage in a different way.