When the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) released new generic top level domains (ngTLDs) in 2012, it allowed organizations all over the world to break free of their former .com and .org constraints. And one of the many outcomes—besides including the release of .SUCKS—was for brands to start owning their namespace right of the “dot”.
Many of the world’s leading companies immediately took action: Apple quickly got .apple. Google got .google. Microsoft got .microsoft. And more recently, Amazon won the battle for the rights to use .amazon. But just because companies are allowed to use their names as a domain doesn’t mean they should—owning a .brand is only part of the ngTLD equation.
What is .brand and Why are Companies Making the Switch?
Like every other ngTLD, .brand URLs can serve as a hub for an organization’s content, connecting products, services and stories with a one-of-a-kind web suffix that sets them apart. They’re a clever way to streamline discovery through search, enhance engagement on social channels and simplify CTAs in advertising.
“URLs have long been an unacknowledged utility, but as it became more important for brands to have a significant and memorable online presence, clever marketers started to use links differently,” says Mark Josephson, CEO of Bitly, in conversation with The Next Web. “We are seeing great interest and innovation in this space as brands start to see the value of new TLDs.”
Using a .brand domain, however, comes with a big price tag. The application alone costs $185,000, and then there’s an annual $25,000 fee just to keep the domain on ICANN’s database. It’s no surprise, then, that outside of big tech, other .brands include major banks such as .hsbc and .chase, and sports leagues like .mlb and .nfl.
A stale URL sucks so even if you can’t snag your .brand, there may be other ngTLDs out there for you to experiment with.
Why Brands Need More Than a .brand
Acquiring .amazon was only one component of Amazon’s larger domain strategy. The company has also acquired other ngTLDs, including .AWS—and they originally bid on everything from .books and .movies to .mobile and .app. Beyond ngTLDs, Amazon also owns AmazonSucks.com, BoycottAmazon.com and many more TLDs to ensure these sites can’t be used to their detriment.
Owning your .brand and other ngTLDs is a good way to protect your brand online, but your domain strategy shouldn’t end there. Consider how a domain like .SUCKS can be used together with a .brand to make a difference. It’s edgy, funny, catchy and stands out in the sea of ngTLDs that currently exist. Not to mention that it builds empathy with your customers.
That stuff Josephson said about “significant,” “memorable,” “interest” and “innovation”—yeah, that’s us. If Amazon took a page out of The Hustle’s book and turned Amazon.Sucks into a transparent platform for less-than-satisfied customers, they could simultaneously protect themselves from the wrath of angry customers and use this feedback constructively to improve their services.
No doubt other organizations are following Amazon’s lead and investing in distinctive new domain names if they haven’t done so already. Unique ngTLDs are quickly becoming a powerful signal for today’s leading companies and their discerning users.
You don’t necessarily need to cough up a small fortune for your own .brand—but it’s time to figure out which meaningful, memorable and purpose-driven ngTLDs can protect your organization in the tumultuous online world.
Being left behind sucks so make sure you follow Amazon’s lead and see what an ngTLD like .SUCKS can do to amplify your brand and your voice.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Kpatyhka, Shutterstock /Evdokimov Maxim, Shutterstock / apichon_tee