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Two issues you won’t hear in the sales pitch for new gTLDs

With only 15 days left until ICANN opens the gate for another 1000 top level domains, my guess is that most big brands now plan to buy their own gTLD. Why? Like I wrote in an earlier blog post: Mostly for defensive reasons. They don't  want to risk that anyone else would use their brand as a top level domain.

Some trademark holders, with really famous, well-known trademarks, will be able to stop others from getting the tld. But most trademark owners will not be able to stop an application, because they don’t have all the trademark rights (all classes, all markets). The only certain way to stop anyone from using your brand as a tld will be to buy the tld yourself.
If you are considering buying your dot brand gtld, there are lots of firms who want to help you with this. But there are two issues, one short term and one long term, they will downplay which every aspiring "dot brand" should beware of.

Short term issue: It will be difficult for a brand to communicate the new url string

This might seem trivial but I think it will be a major issue in the beginning.

Take the airline SAS. They don’t own the “www.sas.com” url, so they might be interested in a top level domain of their own like “.sas”. But how shall they communicate it the first couple of years, before broad customer groups get used to the new gtlds?

Three alternative ways to communicate the url string:

1. “Visit us at .sas” – It is difficult to understand that it is a url. A single dot to indicate where you live online will maybe not be enough for large groups of consumers.
2. “Visit us at www.sas” – Feel like something is missing, right? Where is the domain extension?
3. “Visit us at http://www.sas” – Doesn’t make things easier, just longer.

My guess is that most brands who invest in their own gtld will choose number 1, the “.sas” alternative. They will try to emphasize the dot graphically, but it will take time before people understand and appreciate the short url.

After a few years people have learnt that some of the big brands have their own gtld and that is indicated by a dot.

Advice: Wait with the launch of your new .brand url until your target groups understand the new url concept.

Long term issue: People use automatic suggestions and search results instead of url’s

A lot of people access url’s by typing the brand name in the browser search box. At that point they get automatic suggestions, based on frequency and individual habits.

If your brand is among these suggestions, the actual url means less. If you are not among the suggestions, you should as a big brand be among the presented search results. And that has less and less to do with your actual url, and more and more to do with marketing and good SEO.

This development will of course continue. Browsers and search engines will become increasingly smarter (Apple's Siri is a great example) and the need to know the url will continue to diminish.

Domain names will stay important but branding and trademarks will once again have the upper hand.

Benoit Fallenius Founder and CEO

In this blog I will mostly write about two subjects:

1. Trademarks, domain names, naming and branding - Four separate areas that often are not that separate.

2. Markify news - Features, markets, pricing, challenges etc.

Feedback and questions are always welcome. Email me at benoit@markify.com.