Brands and gTLDs — Stopping to Breathe and Strategize
Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on 22nd November 2013 in 360 Blog

As I continue to work with companies across the globe on their new gTLD strategies, I have found a few commonalities, regardless of the industry. Everyone is so busy with their “day jobs” that it’s hard to really get a team mobilized around the new gTLD project. As a result, many brands are moving rather slowly in developing a plan. They’ve all passed initial evaluation, but now they have to decide what to do with it.

Rooms are filled with executives across functions in the business. The IT guys will tell you that they aren’t about to move millions of pages layered deep within the .com over to a new gTLD without a clear strategy. The e-commerce team has to re-tool to handle potentially new forms of email addresses in their e-commerce systems. Legal and privacy experts are concerned about heightened responsibilities and changes to privacy laws, struggling to forecast how that fits in with use of the gTLD – now as a registry operator no less. The digital team is struggling to handle platform integration and new social media sites popping up daily drawing new users and eyeballs that have to be managed, tracked and analyzed. The CMO is still trying to figure out how to balance a budget between traditional marketing with the whole new digital age and big data push. No one has been charged with the P&L of the gTLD (whatever that really looks like) and the poor unlucky soul charged with managing the gTLD project is herding cats to meetings that no one wants to attend (notice how many people don’t show up?)

This leaves most brands scratching their heads about what to do. They applied, which they see is a good thing in light of everything that’s happening in the digital space, but should they wait and see what others do before diving into the unchartered waters of gTLDs for brands? Who will rise as the evangelist inside these brands and recognize the value of market leadership? The elimination of cookies should get everyone’s attention, but that’s a blog unto itself (stay tuned).

As I pondered this problem, I reflected on my recent trip to South Africa for the last ICANN meeting where I extended my time to travel and spent a day on a boat watching whales and dolphins outside of Capetown. Dolphins and whales live most of their life in the water, but, as you know, need air to breathe. Much like to succeed in business we live most of our life on the go, moving so fast just to keep up, responding rapidly to manage day-to-day activities. But, how do dolphins and a whales remember to come up for air? What if they get so caught up in whatever all the others are doing around them down there, that they forget to come up to breathe? They’d die – right?

Today, our digital world is moving so fast and we are so caught up in following the 24-7 alerts and messaging that we might forget to come up for air – meaning to stop and think about the future of our business. Coming up for air allows us to think about what’s important to our customers and to the future of our business, particularly when tackling a paradigm shift opportunity like gTLDs.

We can’t forget to breathe fresh life into our businesses and our lives because of the water we live deep within –the fast paced world that keeps pulling us deeper and deeper into the abyss of daily digital life.

gTLDs will transform how consumers use the internet. It’s a bold assumption, but one worth taking as a brand gTLD applicant. Never before has the internet transformed at this scale over a relatively short period of time. New domains open up limitless opportunities for campaigns and consumer engagement online that didn’t exist before. There are clear strategies that need to be nurtured by a team that recognizes the depth of the opportunity. It’s not often we get advance notice of a potential paradigm shift in the most important communication tool of our time. Take time to think about how this could change everything and what you can do with this incredibly valuable digital asset – your own branded top level domain.