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Many brands don’t have the time to choose in which new gTLDs to register their names, but Rolf Larsen and Jeanette Söderlund Sause of Dot Global, a domain name registry, can help them wade through the list.
The first question brands should ask is: why should they use a new generic top-level domain (gTLD)? After all, the new extensions bring both great possibilities and risks. They promote innovation, offer domain name accuracy and provide new ways of communicating with, and reaching, customers.
As with every great change, however, there will be resistance and hesitation among certain groups of people. That’s only natural. When smartphones were first introduced, who knew that eventually we would struggle to imagine buying a mobile phone without all of the options, features and choices that the new technology has brought. New gTLDs represent the new internet landscape, and there is valuable virtual real estate to be found within it.
Another reason why the new gTLDs should not be ignored by brand owners is that the expansion of the domain name system brings an increased risk of cybersquatting and trademark infringement. The misuse of a brand online can not only redirect internet traffic and customers to the wrong sites, but also risk harming the overall goodwill of the brand.
A well thought-out brand strategy should therefore involve a plan for which gTLDs should be registered in proactively, and which gTLDs should be handled with defensive mechanisms such as available dispute resolution procedures. When considering being proactive or defensive, brand owners must also take into account the likelihood of success in a potential dispute.
A common misconception is that owning a trademark is enough to prevail in a domain name dispute, but there’s much more to the equation than that—some of which can’t be managed or controlled by the trademark owner. In the cases where a dispute can’t be used to take over a domain name, brand owners might be faced with the much more expensive option of acquiring it straight from the domain name holder.
How to choose
Dividing the new gTLDs into categories helps to create a better overview in order to assess which ones are relevant for a specific brand or a company. Table 1 is an example of how such an evaluation could be made.
When viewing the new gTLDs this way, the task becomes far more manageable, as the number of relevant gTLDs for the brand is significantly reduced.
How to use
As mentioned earlier, there are several ways to use the new domain names, one of which might be held for protective purposes simply to redirect customers to the main website. Other uses are for marketing campaigns, certain brand-related events and location or division-specific websites.
As some new gTLDs such as .bank offer higher security and a more trusted space for selected industries, the use of these gTLDs will also provide internet users and customers with increased safety and trust.
Some new gTLDs also serve as great unifiers for a company’s combined domain name portfolio, tying it together. With a greater selection of, and more diverse, sites, the use of a gTLD as a unifier can help to create a more user-friendly navigation, as well as an excellent main entrance to the company’s, or brand’s, online presence worldwide.
The benefits of rebranding
Rebranding can be done without the need to redesign logos or change the company name. The new gTLDs give brands a chance to send a stronger and clearer message to their customers through their domain names. They give brands the chance to identify themselves online in a way that wasn’t possible before this expansion.
"Dividing the new gTLDs into categories helps to create a better overview in order to assess which ones are relevant for a specific brand or a company."
The mere shift from a traditional .com address through a simple web redirect to a new gTLD, or even the use of them side by side for different purposes, speaks volumes and communicates forward-thinking and open-mindedness. It makes a statement of flexibility and responsiveness to developments in the world.
Rebranding might also be relevant if a business is expecting or attempting to expand globally, or if a brand is otherwise looking to appeal to a new audience.
The bottom line is that the benefits of this gTLD expansion far outweigh the extra time it will take to understand and assess it, so it is essential that brand owners are provided with the proper guidance and tools needed to create great value for their brands through these new gTLDs. Now is the time to do it.
Rolf Larsen is chief executive and founder of Dot Global. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanette Söderlund Sause is vice president of industry relations and marketing at Dot Global. She can be contacted at email@example.com
gTLDs; domain names; branding