Over the years, domain names and URLs haven’t changed much and we have come to recognize their traditional format, our eyes glazing over their contents without looking for meaning or comprehension.
But more recently, there has been something of a revolution in the domain name space and this is all beginning to change. An explosion of choice has emerged for businesses and brands who want to make an impression with the URLs they use on a daily basis. This, in turn, has led to creativity and new ways of thinking about the links they share. Think URLs with calls to action and quirky marketing campaigns with branded links at their heart.
Today, a dot brand TLD is an essential digital marketing tool for brands who want to make the most of every branding and marketing opportunity available to them.
Dot brands: What are they anyway?
Domain names, which enable people to access websites and create URLs, are composed of at least two character strings, separated by a dot. Take Rebrandly.com as an example. The “com” is the Top Level Domain, or TLD, and “Rebrandly” is the second level domain.
Since 2012, the new TLD space has grown from a few hundred strings – which included the likes of .com, .net, .de and .uk – to over 1,000 strings. New strings are progressively being registered, driven by ICANN, a California-based non-profit organization. These strings include a variety of domain extensions to choose from like .club, but also .xyz, .ski, .london and many more.
Brands are a major driving force for this change to adopt new TLDs. In fact, over 550 brands have registered their brand name as a TLD for their exclusive use. This enables them to create their own domains such as environment.google, drive.bmw or q.sky.
Around 1,000 websites have been published using this architecture, but most brands are using the dot brand domain for their branded links.
Dot brand branded links
Dot brand domains allow for three types of branded links:
- Using basic domains – The domain alone is redirecting the user to a dedicated page. For example, yoghurt.fage redirects to https://uk.fage/yoghurts. This use case is very popular amongst dot brand registries. As of early August 2017, 4,000 domains were configured this way.
- Using Meaningful keywords – This consists of the use of a dot brand domain as the domain for a traditional URL shortener, but also as a significant and possibly branded keyword. For example, i.neustar/dotBrandVideos is a short link to http://www.makeway.world/videos.
— Neustar TLDs (@NeustarTLDs) September 11, 2017
- Using Random keywords – This consists of the use of a dot brand domain as the root for a traditional URL shortener. HSBC uses grp.hsbc as the domain for their short URLs. Links from its Twitter account contain numbers with no particular meaning at the end, take for example this link leading to the bank’s group results and reporting page: grp.hsbc/60148Chmq
Some dot-brand branded link use cases
The most frequent and well-known use for branded links is on social media with the objective being to share trusted links and drive traffic from popular sites – like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest – to a brand’s websites, via a link.
i.neustar/rethink links is a dot-brand branded link used on Twitter, with a personalized and meaningful keyword.
Videos are also a popular location to display branded links. Very often, the last image of a YouTube movie displays a URL to lead viewers to find out more about the makers of the video.
For example, lavidaalmaximo.abbott is a branded link to lifetothefullest.abbott/es. It should also be noted that the hashtag used in its campaign is also identical to the domain name.
Offline Marketing Materials
Offline Marketing is also using branded links. Leaflets distributed in the stores of the French supermarket chain, Leclerc, featured an image of a bottle of cream and a call to action asking customers to visit the site called “thecream” – or in French lacreme.leclerc. This redirected visitors to https://www.parapharmacie.leclerc/. Branded links allow for better, more creative marketing material. In this case, the cream product replaces the words “la creme” in the leaflet’s featured link – this made for some visually appealing marketing material.
BNPParibas uses branded links on some of its billboards. cib.bnpparibas is a branded link to cib.bnpparibas.com, and is used on the brand’s billboards across Europe. www. was placed before the domain name in order to make it very clear it is a URL.
Branded links and dot brands benefit businesses and organizations in many ways, the most important of which is brand visibility. The more people see your brand, the better and making the most of domain names and branded links will significantly increase impressions.
Brands can create attractive and meaningful destinations easily with their branded links and this opens the door to some very cool and interesting uses of domains, which redirect to traditional pages. Using branded links that feature emoticons is a great example of the creativity that has been displayed in this area.
While the rewards that can be reaped from using branded links are great, they are actually quite easy and efficient to implement and are definitely worth using now that the option is available to marketers.
Guest Author: Guillaume Pahud, dot stories
After studying engineering, Guillaume became involved in disruptive innovation, implementing sensor-based intelligent building sites as early as 1996.
Since 2004, he has developed expertise in digital strategy and operations and became involved early with “dot brands”, after applying for 14 domains, out of which 10 were “dot brands”. Leveraging on his experience, Guillaume co-founded dot stories to provide solutions for “dot brands”.
- What is a branded link?
- Branded Links: For the URL is Short and Full of Terrors
- Online Branding Best Practices
This Article is About:
- Dot brand domains
- Branded Top Level Domains
- Using branded links
- Online marketing tool
Originally Posted: November 21th, 2017.
Post Updated: December 03rd, 2021.