A good website is important in business, but what happens when someone buys a domain with your brand in it? Just ask Taylor Swift and Ted Cruz and they will be able to tell you.
The release of hundreds of gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains) from ICANN (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) has sent most brands scrambling to make sure that they aren’t missing out on the perfect site. It has also led to many purchasing domains that could offer the potential to bring their brand into disrepute. With web address endings like .sucks and .wtf there is an entirely new platform emerging that companies need to take notice of.
Brand protection is something that has to be considered when launching a new business or career. While there are rules imposed by ICANN, the process can be lengthy and often the damage has already been done. The best plan of action is, well, to have a great plan of action.
There are two ways to do this: the Taylor Swift way or the Ted Cruz way. Let us explain:
Country star, Taylor Swift, recently purchased TaylorSwift.porn. Although it sounds quite strange, it is actually a brilliant – and astute – business move. For as long as Taylor Swift holds the rights to that specific domain, no one can use her brand to promote malicious or explicit images and ideas. She can buy it and forget about it – the threat has been neutralized. This is exactly the reason that defensive domain purchases are a great idea.
Ted Cruz on the other hand failed to purchase TedCruz.com. The domain was quickly grabbed by his opposition and currently features a message saying “Support President Obama. Immigration Reform Now.”. This can be classified as a definite mistake as far as branding goes, especially when you are running for President and your name is your brand. Ouch!
Domain squatting is very real and happens to the best of us. Check out Lebron.com and you will find a redirect to Patrick Nagle’s Twitter page. The site previously took you to Mr. Nagle’s resumé, but apparently he got a job from that well-played stunt and is now only looking for followers. Lebron should have taken advice from Britney.com, the Britney Spears homepage, and slam dunked his web presence.
Now, if you follow the belief that all publicity is good publicity, you can consider yourself safe from domain squatting. But if you are like the rest of us, then learning by the mistakes of other brands is a really good idea.
‘Here is a simple guide to brand protection through domain registration:
- Make a list of all domains that could be considered a threat (think like your enemy!)
- Keep an eye on new domain releases as well as WhoIs searches if the domain is already registered. Don’t forget new extensions like .sucks, .wtf and .xxx
- Know the rules implemented by ICANN concerning UDRP (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy)
- Make a ‘worst case scenario’ plan so that you are prepared for any disaster
This is not to say that you won’t encounter any domain hacking problems, but with a good strategy you can curb most of the problems. However no matter how creative you are, every once in a while there will be one that got away which could really bite you – just ask Kanye West. Or better yet, just check out loser.com.
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