Why this domain expert has stopped talking about domain names

By Tony Kirsch
Head of Professional Services, Neustar

I’m lucky enough to spend my working life helping some of the world’s largest brands drive their .brand TLD projects.

The excitement and the challenges of this space stem largely from the fact that this is a new innovation; and when you’re working with something truly groundbreaking, naturally there’s an element of “learning as you go.”

And I’m not afraid to admit, sometimes we get things wrong.

The more I talk to .brand owners, the more they’re teaching me where the value of .brands is.

And newsflash: it’s not in domain names.

We’re becoming more and more aware of the potential of .brands as a true disruptor in digital marketing. While on a basic level, a .brand TLD allows an organization to rethink its domain name strategy, the business and marketing impacts of this asset are much more far-reaching.

But in order to execute on this, we need to get the senior marketers and brand managers on board.

And until now, I (and perhaps we as an industry) haven’t done a great job of that.

For many in the .brands space, the challenge of engaging internal stakeholders in .brand projects is heightened by the jargon, history and technical nature of the domain name industry.

While some technical details are of course necessary, it’s easy to lose people in the chaos of domain name language – from ICANN to gTLDs to DNS to second-level domains.

So we’re changing the conversation.

Instead of ‘domain names’, we’re realizing the power of talking about ‘improved customer experience’.
Instead of saying “you can create this new domain”, we explain how “customers can find what they want faster and more intuitively”.
Instead of talking about websites and web pages, we talk about your holistic digital presence, and the identity it conveys to your audience.

More and more, we’re finding our discussions with .brands now include senior marketers and those in charge of branding and customer experience.

And we’re quickly discovering that the story we’ve been telling just doesn’t land with this audience…and neither should it.

Because the truth of it is, that .brands are not about domain names.

And talking about domain names to your marketing team could be what’s killing your .brand project.

I spoke about this recently in a presentation at the Global Domains Division (GDD) Summit in Spain.

It’s a message that’s resonated so strongly, we’ll continuing the discussion at an upcoming .brands webinar on June 1st – check out more information here and register to attend.

If we as an industry want to see .brands succeed, we need to speak the language of our key audience: the marketers. Not only that, but we need to recognize that the value of .brands doesn’t lie in domain names, and instead build an approach that looks holistically at marketing, branding and online identity.

My name is Tony Kirsch and I’m a domain name junkie. But the first step is acknowledging the problem – and committing to discovering a better road ahead.

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