Having popular brands use .brand domain names for business and marketing is something that is going to help drive awareness of the new gTLD program. I think consumer confusion about new gTLD domain extensions is one of the biggest issues that needs to be overcome. When a brand uses a .brand extension, it needs to be clear that they are promoting a domain name and not using it as a gag (ala the fictitious Booking.Yeah tagline from Booking.com).
Tony Kirsch, the “.brand Evangelist” and Head of Professional Services at Neustar Inc., wrote a blog post advising brands about how to use and market their .brand domain names to avoid confusion. This is a good read for brand managers, but it is also a good read for domain investors who invest in or develop new domain names.
Here are some of the suggested ways for brands to market new domain extensions, although I think these tips can be used by others who operated websites on the new domain extensions:
- Add www. at the beginning so people know it is a url
- Add http or http:// for the same reason (although Tony suggests this may be outdated)
- Only the domain name (may be confusing as I mentioned above)
- Symbols to show that it is a url that should be visited
- Search symbol
- Written instructions to ensure people know how to get to the domain name
All in all, I think this is good advice for companies looking to use a .brand domain name or a new gTLD domain name in general. It would also be wise for their marketing and advertising agencies to consider these suggestions as well or potentially risk the trouble that Overstock faced when it attempted its O.CO rebranding a few years ago.
As time goes by, I would expect an instructional blog post like Tony’s will become more unnecessary than it is today. As things stand right now, brands that use a .brand domain name for their website likely need to do a bit more to ensure their customers aren’t confused when trying to access their website. I am sure it is the hope of Tony and others in his position that this becomes unnecessary in the future.