On Monday (20/06/11) the governing body for Internet domain names, ICANN, is expected to approve the final rules to allow organisations to register their own names at the top of the Internet name hierarchy.
So instead of .com or .co.uk, in future you’ll likely see .hotel, .bank, .beer as well as company brands like .canon, .deloitte or .hitachi. Organisations may register keywords that relate to their products, such as .camera or .printer. Cities are considering their own Internet name – for example .london.
For marketers, the creative possibilities are exciting. Think justdoit.nike, enjoy.coke, or getwings.redbull. They’ll all be possible.
Catchy domain names like these will be perfect for boosting advertising recall. If you want to buy an iPad, instead of typing in www.apple.com/ipad you could potentially in future just go to ipad.apple.
They’ll also convey brand trust and security. If a brand secures their name as a .brand domain, they control it – meaning a fraudster can’t set up a site using that domain, and as a consumer you know it’s legit. If you’re a HSBC customer and do your online banking through a .hsbc address, you’re assured you’re at the right place – and ICANN is unlikely to allow a .hzbc or .hcbs address for you to accidentally type in and be taken somewhere malicious.
There are many more benefits to be had. However, there are some things to consider before diving in for a .brand.
Firstly, the cost. The application fee alone will be £115,000. Secondly, human behaviour. We’ve grown used to .com and .co.uk, and most of us just type those in automatically when guessing a company’s web address. Is that behaviour going to change? And will these new names just confuse customers rather than make the online experience easier to navigate?
This explosion in new domain names is likely to create some confusion for consumers at first as we all get used to the new names (“No dad, you don’t need to put .com at the end!”).
Do internet domain name changes spell the end for .com? Organisations will still most definitely need to maintain their .com and .co.uk presence because consumers are not going to switch to the new .brand overnight. And from a brand protection perspective, you don’t want anyone else to take your existing names.