Making a great product or operating a great service is fruitless if no one knows you’re doing it. Marketing lies at the heart of any business’ success and the figures can attest: predictions suggest that US$535 billion will be spent on ads worldwide in 2018, with digital and mobile advertising sales taking 44% of all global advertising revenues.
For that reason, marketing is wildly competitive. Brands must constantly refine and develop their communications and strategies to keep pace with trends and remain relevant to a capricious public. Capturing interest and securing loyalty are vital to safeguard the survival of the brand, and the digital landscape is the new frontier for ambitious marketing efforts. In this arena, some of the most successful and savvy brands have already recognised that a dot brand could be the golden ticket to customer engagement in our increasingly digital age – have you got yours?
Consider a dot brand
Investing in a dot brand was an innovative idea back in 2012 when ICANN opened the first round of applications for new generic top level domains (gTLDs). In addition to generic words (.yoga) and geographical terms (.scotland), the application process offered brands an opportunity – for the first time ever – to register their own names as dot brands (e.g. .BBC or .Barclays). This was a chance to move a brand away from a reliance on generic (e.g .com) or a country code (e.g. .uk), securing complete autonomy over their domain name space and improving the security of their sites. Perhaps most importantly, a dot brand also opened up a whole new marketing landscape in the digital space.
Despite the opportunity being so unique, dot brand applications were a significant part of the 2012 process, and the list of companies snapping up theirs included the world’s biggest and most influential brands, such as Google and Bentley. Five years on, many of these dot brands are active, with key players demonstrating an innovative spark in their marketing efforts – and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.
One of the first brands to launch their own gTLD was Abbott, the US healthcare company, and they are proving to be one of the leaders in the dot brand space. The current area of focus is their lifetothefullest.abbott site, which shares advice and information about living a healthy, meaningful life. They have registered ‘life. to the fullest’ and #fullosophy as trademarks, and raise awareness of the campaign on their corporate social media. The marketing campaign was also taken into the real world – for example, a huge banner advertising the site was hung from the New York Stock Exchange building on the day Abbott rang the bell inside.
For a healthcare company, a site focused on health and wellbeing is a good way to engage with customers and boost brand reputation, especially as the topic is currently on trend.
Canon bolstered its reputation as an innovator when it became the first brand in the world to publicly announce an intention to apply for .canon back in 2010. With the dot brand now secure, Canon shifted its main site onto global.canon in 2016 and has been adding country-specific sites to the offering, such as ph.canon for the Philippines.
The adoption of the dot brand was a move to better integrate the range of products Canon markets to different countries and demonstrates a willingness to embrace digital transformation to maintain relevancy. This is clear in their marketing focus, using social media channels to good effect (such as active engagement with customers on Twitter) and crafting advertising campaigns that target the smartphone generation with a focus on storytelling, ‘Live for the Story’.
The French national rail company has undertaken a major rebranding project – their first in almost two decades – to publicise and maximise their new dot brand. They shifted their main site from voyages-sncf.com to oui.sncf, and all their services now include the word ‘yes’ (Ouigo, OuiBus and inOui).
Not only is this part of the company’s efforts to make themselves more innovative and hit different market segments, the new branding and the shorter, snappier dot brand opens new opportunities in terms of marketing. Such a clear call to action is valuable when trying to advertise online, tapping into social media and search terms to ensure their brand is the first one found where possible.
Interestingly, France is one of the top three regions in the world by dot brand domain registrations, with 25 of the dot brand applications coming from the country.
How do I get mine?
The marketing potential of a dot brand is vast and largely untapped. Despite some big brands starting to explore the opportunities available to them in this new online space, we are only scratching the surface of a new digital marketing phenomena that can suit all manner of companies across diverse industries, as our three different examples demonstrate.
As consumer awareness in the possibility for different, unique domains grows in the coming years, we can expect a great influx of companies seeking their own dot brand when the next round of applications is opened. This is likely to be in 2020 or 2021, leaving brands with potentially just over 18 months to prepare strategies and create the infrastructure to ensure the application is successful. The requirements may be stringent, but for any brand serious about competing online, a branded domain is fast-becoming non-negotiable. Read more about the process and the possibilities here.
To learn more about dot brand domains and how Nominet can help your business, please get in touch.