Generic Top-Level Domains, the Social Web and the Future of Branding

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ADOTAS – Why is Facebook on its way to become a $100 billion dollar enterprise? Because the corporate world is very comfortable with “predictability driven marketing” surrounded by “search based social mediums,” and it expects “click-based” returns on investments and believes in 247/365 multidirectional expansion, while the rest of the world loves the freedom to engage online.

With 2 billion online users, business and social lifestyle altering tools like Facebook, with 800 million users, or YouTube, with localized operations in 25 countries across 43 languages creating 3 billion views per day, are creating hyper-accelerated global image shifts. People around the world are bonding at a rate faster than ever in history.

Two schools of thought are emerging. Firstly, will too much overflow of online traffic confuse the end users and alter the internet experience? Secondly, are we about to enter a brand new age of the internet — creating new experiences; complex, yet free; secure, yet fully exposing our lives; simple and transactional, yet influencing our purchasing decisions and filled with brandable opportunities at every click along the way?

On April 30th 2012, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the internet authority, will announce the expected list of 1,000 to 2,000 gTLD (generic top-level domains) designer domain names from brands that have applied at a cost on average of a million dollars each.

The advertising agencies of the world, from the first announcement of the new program, launched a vicious attack against the gTLDs. Were they right? Yes. This advancement of domain name expansion seriously hurts existing major brands, as most of their names are not stretchable on the global canvas. Why don’t they see this as a great opportunity for new business development and adjust their clients’ name portfolios? Partially due to the lack of understanding of global naming complexities among their cadre, and the realization of the shift of power from highly creative camps to domain name registries, registrars and trademark administration under the umbrella of domination via name identity.

This combined action moves the cheese from logo/slogan branding centrality to corporate nomenclature accuracy and digital finesse. However, smart creative houses are slowly embracing this global image shift and becoming more digitized and have started respecting the new procedures. Beyond April 2012, they will have to prove to their clients their reformed understanding and move forward with solid workable strategies.

The New Options:

1. Do nothing. The name application window is now closed and will remain shuttered for the next several years. This program was in the making for a decade and was announced with global fanfare four years ago, while a full speed go-ahead was given six months ago. For whatever reason, if you are left out, you may have to face some serious internal discussions.

2. Just wait. The name application process is very intricate, yet very simple. If you use this waiting period that spans few years, and prepare for the next round, you may acquire some very deep insight not only about the advanced-level cyber name games, but also discover some hidden brand naming problems in need of serious answers.

3. Simply watch. Observe the competition and see if they take off or crash. Either way, as spectators, you have some advantages. Enjoy the show and get ready to cheer or jeer. The fact that the world has changed, and the global domain name expansion has brought us to a new age internet that demands a new sets of skills and understanding to drive global marketing and branding.

Those who wish to become thoroughly familiar with the new battlefield must study the subject in-depth. Half-knowledge is the worst kind of knowledge. Most of the basic information is easily available on the internet.

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