New Domain Name Extensions: Big Branding Opportunities for Small Business?

written by Ivan Widjaya on January 7, 2013 in Branding with no comments

Domain name business is huge – just ask Name.com, GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com and any other accredited domain name registrars. ICANN, the governing body responsible for coordination of domain name system and some other Internet systems, has initiated the new gTLDs program, which purpose is to introduce literally hundreds of new domain name extensions for the general public to register.

tlds

As we who deal with everything Internet know it, a domain name is the foundation of your small business online presence. Unfortunately, some business owners are just being ignorant, choosing whatever domain names come up, thinking that those dot-coms or dot-whatever are just ‘cosmetics.’

Having a great, informative website without the right domain name will lose you branding opportunities, big time – even damaging your entire online business presence.

Want some examples? These are pretty much misleading, really:

www.whorepresents.com (a helpful site for finding agents representing celebrities) – is it WhoRepresents or WhorePresents?

www.therapistfinder.com (a site helping you to find a therapist) – is it TherapistFinder or TheRapistFinder?

www.choosespain.com (a Spanish holiday rental company) – is it ChooseSpain or ChoosesPain?

‘catch my drift? :)

Now, let’s go back to the new gTLDs program… you might wonder why on earth this program is significant to you. Well, read on to clear some mist…

Some basics

gTLDs is the acronym of generic Top Level Domains. TLDs refer to the dot-something you see in a web address – e.g. BizPenguin.com, Google.com, Wikipedia.org and so on.

Today, there are so many TLDs you can choose as your small business website’s domain name – e.g. .com, .cc, .info, .co, .biz, .name, .asia, etc.

Now, the “generic” in “generic Top Level Domains” refers to a category of TLDs which core group consists of .com, .net, .org and .info.

The .co, .co.uk, .us, .net.au and so on are called country code top-level domains (ccTLD) because they are country-specific (e.g.: .co is assigned to the country Columbia, but anyone from any countries can register it, for now.)

To avoid lengthy (and rather irrelevant) talks about TLDs, you can learn more about this from Wikipedia.

what the new gTLDs program is all about?

ICANN’s new gTLDs program is purposed to increase competition and choice by growing the number of gTLDs available right now from about two dozens right now to hundreds by June 2013.

As we all know it, it’s challenging these days to find good .com domain name. While 2-word and 3-word domain names are still feasible, it’s not that effective in branding for one reason: It’s often not easy to memorize at a first glance. BizPenguin.com is cool, but having Business.com is uber-fantastic (it’s not available, obviously!)

To address the needs and opportunities, ICANN open the door for applicants to suggest new gTLDs. There are 1,930 applications to date (here’s the list.) If you have $185,000 and meet with the requirements, you can apply to ICANN with your very own gTLDs.

Huge opportunities for small business?

What kind of branding opportunities available for you? One answer: HUGE ONES.

Suppose you have a bike shop, named Adam’s Bike Shop. Your logical choice of domain name when setting up a website is AdamsBikeShop.com (it’s still available, by the way…) While that’s a good one, it’s not for everyone; people want short, memorable domain name. With the new gTLDs, you can!

How about adams.bike? Sounds good? It’s easier to remember and highly brandable. Yes, you can register that when .bike is approved as one of the gTLDs – expect to have some competitions, though…

How about having accessories.shop as your accessories store’s websites’ domain name extension? Are you a florist? How about having .florist as your website’s domain name extension? A small business lawyer? How .lawyer sounds? Running a cafe? .cafe might be the one for you!

Perhaps geographical gTLDs interest you more: How about this example… footie.london for your football-related shop in London… .abudhabi? .capetown?

Sounds cool? All of those suggested gTLDs might become a reality this 2013!

Some potential issues to consider

Of course, not all small business would be happy with the new gTLDs. Why? It’s simple: There will be a fierce landgrab once the gTLDs are open for registration, and that could pose a risk of brand confusions.

Let’s take the Adams’ Bike Shop example. When Adam – the rightful owner of the shop – wants to start a website for his small biz, looking for the right domain name can be frustrating. Here’s one frustration: adams.bike is taken by someone else. Then Adam tries adamsbike.shop. Suppose that’s available – so what’s next? Register it? Hold on – how to ensure that your customers are not going to the wrong website?

That’s one. Here’s another one: To help you protect your brand? How many domain names you should register, exactly? adamsbikeshop.com, adamsbike.shop, adams.bike, adamsbikeshop.biz, adamsbikeshop.co, etc. etc. That could be easily hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars annually just to keep them yours.

Of course, you don’t have to register all of them. But you do need to trademark your domain name to avoid domain squatting issues – and yes, solving the issues via legal action costs you money.

Takeaway

2013 is an exciting year for branding your small biz’ online presence!

With the new (domain name extensions, you have the opportunity to secure the one that is most suitable for your branding purposes (here’s a helpful guide for you.)

Be warned, though… new doesn’t always mean better. Your good old dot-com is still the best kind of domain name extension, as it’s worldwide known. Unless your new domain name is short, memorable and catchy (e.g. 500.co, t.co, etc.) it’s probably better to stick to the top three TLDs: .com, .org and .net.

Will you register new domain names with the new gTLDs for your small business website? Please share your opinion!


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