If you already own a dot-com, you know the role those last three letters play in your marketing. But starting in January, 2012, your business can apply to replace that dot-com with dot-“Your Business Name,” putting your name back in the marketing.
Canon was among the first corporations to announce its intentions to purchase a generic top level domain, also known as gTLD. Canon’s plans to purchase.canon when the opportunity becomes available led a flurry of announcements for future plans of.hitachi,.motorola, and.unicef. Called “dotbranding,” this shift in the way top level domains are awarded could change the way users surf the web.
iCANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will charge $185,000 for each generic top level domain. The opportunity, which will only be available from January 12, 2012 to April 12, 2012, has businesses scrambling to figure out if this move will be beneficial. According to brand consultants Interbrand, a generic top level domain will be of most benefit to businesses that are centered primarily online.
Dotbranding will likely work best if a business releases multiple websites per year. One example Interbrand gave in its white paper on the topic was a movie studio, releasing big movies on a regular basis. “http://www.titanicmovie.paramountpictures”, for instance, or “http://www.zookeeper.sonypictures”. Still, in a world where consumers have grown used to seeking out the dot-com, will such promotion be effective?
The plus for businesses is that a generic TLD allows use of corporate names in marketing materials. Mountaindew.pepsi, for instance, uses space that would normally be occupied by the word “com” to promote the Pepsi brand. This gives Pepsi more exposure while asserting its ownership of the Mountain Dew product.
But “dot-Your Business Name” isn’t the only choice. Over the past two decades,.com,.org and.net have expanded to include.biz,.gov,.edu, and many more. More recently, iCANN voted to provide the generic top level domain name.xxx to adult sites, sponsored by the International Foundation for Online Responsibility. Opening up top level domains to businesses could result in groups of businesses getting together to share an easy-to-remember domain, like.car or.movie. Or businesses could be creative in the way one company was in recent years, allowing visitors to reach its site by simply typing o.co into the address book. The shortened version of its name provided a catchy, rhyming shortcut to stick in customer’s minds.