Brands: Don’t Just Defend, Future-Proof!

The exponential increase in new TLDs over the last two years has had a huge effect on the internet and one of the most affected groups is Brands. While this change has provided opportunity for Brands, it’s also been difficult for a number of reasons, including:

  • Inconsistencies in process and pricing across Registries
  • Mistakes and poor decisions by new Registries
  • The sheer volume of new TLDs

While it’s easy to understand being frustrated and overwhelmed by the paradox of choice, now is the time to build a plan for new TLDs and start taking action. Don’t think of the influx of new TLDs as a bothersome event that requires a purely defensive reaction. That is a shortsighted view. The simple fact is that you absolutely need to prepare to incorporate some of these TLDs into your future plans.

It may be hard to see this future now, but it is coming. One of the primary motivations to implement a plan now is that the domain you want to use in the future could be registered today, tomorrow, or next week. The tremendous availability across these new TLDs is a one-time event and, for the TLDs seeing early success, the window of opportunity is already closing. Missing the opportunity to register or protect domains for future use will have one of two results:

  1. Expensive legal action to try and reclaim the domain in the future
  2. Diminished potential of future marketing campaigns due to the lack of the perfect domain

So we know it’s time to take action, but what does a plan look like? The first step is to establish a strategy. The best approach is to blend defense with future-proofing.

Building a Plan

You’ve heard the quote “a good defense is the best offense,” and that’s true when considering new TLD domain registrations. It’s important to protect your core trademarks, especially on TLDs that invite negative commentary. To do this you can register specific domains or take advantage of the protection offerings that some Registries offer, like the Domains Protected Mark List (DPML) product offered by Donuts and Rightside. There’s plenty to say on this front, but you’ve heard it before so I’m going to focus on how your plan for new TLDs needs to be more about future-proofing.

To fully appreciate the idea of future-proofing requires a change in perspective. Your legal department is working to protect you from all types of nefarious activities, but to get the most out of your investment your marketing team needs to be focused on how you might use these new TLD domains in two to five years. As mentioned above, many of these new TLDs will have broad awareness with consumers and also are used by many of them. I know it’s difficult to make a bet on which TLDs will achieve broad acceptance, but the truth is that it’s inexpensive to future-proof. This is especially true when you consider the nature of the new TLDs that are now available. Your Registrar can help you identify the TLDs that are showing strong momentum as well as the ones that are a great fit for your Brand.

Future-Proof Vertical TLD Domains

New TLDs range from vertical to general in nature. When you think about future-proofing, the focus should be on the TLDs that have a specific purpose, the vertical ones. As an example, .LIVE and .VIDEO have seen broad early adoption and are great fits for Brand marketing strategies. As video becomes the predominant media format, you need to be prepared to maximize the opportunity. While video may not be a cornerstone of your marketing approach now, it definitely will be in the next couple of years. Registering domains on these TLDs today is a great way to be prepared for the future. Any Brands not currently live streaming are likely to do so in the next couple of years, and the .LIVE TLD has already proven to be the extension of choice for the live streaming community. The same is true for other up and coming vertical TLDs. The Rightside TLD portfolio has a number of these, including .NEWS, .SOCIAL, and .GIVES.

Think Beyond the Trademark

As mentioned earlier, the introduction of these new TLDs creates a unique opportunity. Think about the visionaries that purchased .COM domains in the early days and went on to become multi-millionaires due to their belief that domain names would be very valuable. We’re at that point again. There are thousands of great generic terms available for affordable prices. With this in mind, it’s important that you think beyond your trademarks and start registering domains that future-proof your future campaigns. As an example, if you sell TVs then www.tv.news would be a great TLD to own and incorporate into your marketing.

In Summary

While the launch of new TLDs has been a burden on Brands, it’s critical that you have a plan to address this huge opportunity. Defending your brand is important, but taking the next step and understanding how these new TLDs will benefit your future marketing efforts is just as important.

Send comments to scott.ryder@rightside.co.

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