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How TLDs Can Enhance Your Branding—Online and Offline

Domain names are powerful statements, not mere online addresses. They tell your customers who you are and what you stand for. The good news is, there are dozens of new and emerging top-level domains (TLDs) that can enhance your brand campaigns in ways you might not have considered.

Traditional TLDs (like. COM or .ORG) were created for very technical and practical reasons, and were never expected to be used by more than a handful of people on an Internet much smaller than the one we know today. Newer TLDs were designed around communication and creativity, not computing. Here's how brands can turn the dot and everything after into branding customers will remember.

Amplify Your Values

Willy Street Co-op of Madison, Wis. wanted a domain name that would reflect its values and operating principles. The co-operative grocery was founded in 1974 and started a web presence when TLD choices were slim. When .COOP appeared, the choice to jump on it was clear. “We're interested in setting ourselves apart from typical businesses, and wanted to highlight that we're a different kind of business than a .COM would be," said Brendon Smith, Willy Street Co-op communications director. “Being willystreet.coop now is pretty great."

Instead of tacking a traditional TLD at the end of the business name, the business name itself becomes the domain. That's more than just branding—it makes the domain name reflect the company's mission and core values. “A lot of co-ops consider it part of their mission to educate the public about what a co-op is and how it works," Smith said. “This was one of our small contributions to that education."

TLDs like .SKI or .PET can work similarly to streamline your branding, explaining what your business is all about and how people can find out more about you in just a few simple characters.

Make a No-Pressure Promise

Most organizations are in business to make money, but often you have to spend time building trust with customers before you can convince them to make a purchase. New TLDs can help you start a conversation—without implying that you're going to be making a sale.

Take the popular and successful .INFO domain. Including links to .INFO in materials, merchandise, and handouts shows that you want to share information. It can be a great way to draw customers in—maybe redirecting them to a blog or other value-add area of your site—in a way that is low-risk for them. Another option here is using .PRO, which can also help give you the air of bringing valuable knowledge to the table, not just trying to make the sale.

Get Active

Some of the most exciting new TLDs work so well for offline marketing because they promote taking real-world action. Have deal-savvy customers? Tell them to visit your .PROMO domain for your latest and greatest offers, anytime. Want to advance your political cause? Don't jam a mission statement into a domain name. Tell people plainly what you want by putting it in front of a .VOTE TLD.

You can also use new TLDs to show how your business is getting active in issues you care about. Have a special initiative that donates some of your proceeds to environmental campaigns? Including a .GREEN domain in your promotions to help show it off even more. Running a special event for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Pride Festival? Amplify your marketing with a .PINK or .LGBT domain.

Be a Little Unexpected

People want to dig for details when they see something intriguing, yet ambiguous. In marketing, that's called the curiosity approach or the mystery approach. It's risky when used as your only strategy, but sometimes it pays to make a splash with the completely unexpected and unexplained. New TLDs give you a chance to send a novel message.

For example, say you're planning on paying to promote your business on the side of a car—nothing new. But new TLDs like .CAR mean that you can actually turn a vehicle into a mobile beacon. Think about seeing a hybrid driving down the road with the bold lettering LAWYER.CAR. What would a LAWYER.CAR mean? Is it a lawyer who drives around resolving disputes? Is it a self-driving car so advanced it is also a legal bot capable of helping you get out of a parking ticket? These questions will demand answers—that potential customers are likely to search for to learn more!

Browse the list of TLD possibilities, and try to think of creative and unexpected ways to use these to drive your brand marketing—you may be surprised by the impact.

Domains are much more than web addresses. They're ways to attract attention and provoke people to think about your business even when opening a browser is the furthest thing from their minds. If you're reading to deepen your branding, consider registering a few new domains with some creative TLDs today, and start exploring the possibilities in all of your marketing efforts.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018