- by Stuart Fuller, Head of Brand Services -
In 2011 Marketing Week heralded the “new domain names that will be a game changer for brands”, highlighting the launch of the new gTLDs and specifically, DotBrands. The article provides some bit-sized examples of the advantages of owning and running a DotBrand would have for organizations, including input from some prospective applicants. It also underlined the ICANN view that owning their domain names will give brands unprecedented control over their web presence, while getting even closer to customers all in the name of loyalty and engagement.
The article finished with the rhetorical question, “Can brands afford not to join the party?” Almost a decade later and hundreds of brand holders now have responsibility for their own slice of the Internet. But have DotBrands created that better user experience yet?
I think most people with an interest, whether vested or not, would have expected to have seen more by now from the DotBrand community. There’s only a small number of organizations who have committed the time, resources and innovation to creating a differentiated user experience. However, the good news is that all of the compelling reasons that motivated brands to apply a decade ago still exist today, starting with naming conventions.
Over time, URL structures become more and more complex, with unintelligible strings of alphanumerics. Whilst the user experience is normally menu-driven URLs can be unlimited in length and one look at the browser bar can confuse even the most technically-savvy users. Using a DotBrand allows organizations to press reset and create new URL name conventions that follow sense and logic – for instance www.jobs.abbott/us. That is significantly better and easier to remember that the URL to buy my favourite sausages at a popular supermarket:
https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/meat-fish/sausages#langId=44&storeId=10151&catalog Id=10241&categoryId=276041&parent_ category_rn=13343&top_category=13343&pageSize=60&orderBy =FAVOURITES_ONLY%7CSEQUENCING%7CTOP_SELLERS&searchTerm=&beginIndex=0.
Using a DotBrand to design a better naming convention and ultimately a new user experience is a key advantage those DotBrand holders have today.
Owning a DotBrand allows an organization to quickly register short-term campaign or information domains. For many brand holders, there are inherent risks in launching a new brand or campaign, hoping that they are not already too late in registering the names they need. Owning a DotBrand allows an organization to have complete control of the domains they register and actively use. For instance, many brands have launched specific information pages on COVID-19 such as www.coronavirus.dhl – because the page is registered on a DotBrand, users know that it is a genuine page. Likewise, keyword rich domain names which significantly improve the search and user experience are easy and quick to create, such as www.drive.bmw or www.applemusicforbusiness.apple.
One user experience that some brands have considered is how to use individual domain names created under the DotBrand as unique and secure customer identifiers. This would be an interesting concept for financial services customer, who were quick to bring DotBrand to market. Barclays were one of the first major brands to move from a .com to their .Barclays back in 2015, whilst BNP Paribas (www.mabanque.bppparibas) and Banco Bradesco (www.banco.bradesco) retain high rankings still in the Alexa Top million domain names based on traffic. With customer security one of the biggest areas of concern for banks, being able to verify user credentials using a unique domain name could be a perfect example of how DotBrands can drive innovation.
The user experience is a very subjective thing. There is no doubt that the few hundred brands holders who applied for and have subsequently launched their DotBrand have a competitive advantage in the digital world but few Internet users would be able to clearly see the benefits. However, in terms of building safer, secure and innovative solutions around the DotBrand there is no doubt that the user experience will be enhanced and that can only benefit the reputation and ultimately, the revenues of the brand.
Coming next : Part three of our DotBrand guide – How DotBrand Holders can build a safer user experience