CoreBiz Solutions

gTLD Brand Websites – All Aboard?

This morning in a Swedish national newspaper we noticed one headline article after another discussing how the world’s major brands had launched their own top-level domain websites. Across all major continents, brands were both switching and complementing their existing .com and .net addresses with their own .brand sites. Sound too far-fetched? Perhaps this opening paragraph is something better placed in the year 2020, five years from now.

For now, in 2015, movement in the brand gTLD space remains relatively conservative. However, there has been some activity by some reasonably well-known players.

Barclays Bank PLC, the London based multinational that operates in over 50 countries, is one such outfit. A few weeks ago Barclays switched their main customer facing .com website to a new .barclays website. Everything looks and feels the same but if you type www.barclays.com into your browser you are swiftly taken to www.home.barclays. The same goes for www.barclaycard.com which now redirects to www.home.barclaycard. It’s a nice move by the bank but could possibly have been done with a bit more fanfare and pr.

Indeed, a closer look at the sites reveals that the transactional side of the business is yet to be migrated. This seems like a fairly sensible move as that would involve customer data and access issues which likely need more time to operationally plan.

Both new Barclay’s sites are a mirror image of their previous .com sites. They represent, not so much a leap of faith, but rather the next natural step in realizing the mission and statement of the TLDs enunciated in the original applications.

BNP Paribas, the French based multinational bank has also paid respect to its original gTLD application in launching a wholly new website: http://livingthechange.bnpparibas/. However, on this occasion the website acts an information repository rather than anything meaningfully connected to the banking side of the business.

It’s an interesting approach and perhaps one that the program needs. On the one hand, Barclays Bank are quietly switching sites with no real ‘noise’ to customers and, on the other, BNP Paribas, are taking an educational approach. What actually struck is here at CoreBiz Solutions is the length of the new address adopted by BNP.

Much talk in the early days of the gTLD program focused on shorter URLs, those that would be useful for the marketing and pr team when running campaigns and in driving social media awareness. Strangely, BNP has adopted a website running to 26 characters including the ‘.’ separator! It begs the question why did they just not use www.change.bnpparibas or www.future.bnpparibas?

Konstigt? Perhaps. However, any activity in the brand gTLD space at the current time is welcome in our book. In fact we are keen to see more as our customer conversations with current round applicants, and more crucially interested next round applicants are all wondering whether there will be a standard new gTLD website convention or operating code.

How has the press interpreted the above new brand websites? You will be hard pressed to find any major news about either. There has been the obligatory statement from Barclays in various media channels and that is a good start. BNP notably had some press in the French media but nothing that went to much further than the domainers community.

We have no doubt the coming months will see the launch of more brand gTLD sites. And who knows, perhaps in less than five years time our newspapers will be writing about how big brands are revolutionizing the way we do business online.

Written by Fredrik Salde

Partner

CoreBiz Solutions