New domain names: dot what?

In this article, I want to showcase how brands are using the ever-expanding choices of domain names. I will explain what a domain is (the techie boring stuff), then go on to blow your mind and expand your horizons with domain craziness, then end on a serious note for consideration.

What’s in a domain name?

Protocol Subdomain Domain name
(incl. top-level domain/extension)
http(s):// www.
The protocol declares how your web browser should communicate with a web server. A subdomain is a subdivision of the main domain name (www is the most common one you’ll see around). A domain name always includes the top-level domain (TLD), sometimes referred to as the extension e.g. .com, .org.

Domain name extensions we’re used to.

What is known as the ‘norm’ with domain names.

(Country code top-level domain names)
(Generic top-level domain names)
.uk – United Kingdom
.es – Spain
.fr – France
.com – Commercial organisations
.org – Non-profit entities
.net – Network infrastructures (Or at least, it used to be for this. Bit of a free-for-all these days.)

We are in the “dot anything” age

New gTLDs (generic top-level domain names) are domain extensions that go beyond .com, .org, .net and the other extensions we’ve used. Over 1,300 new domain extensions could become available in the next few years.

Why would a brand choose a new gTLD?



“Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search”

Google Blog

Brand authenticity/trust

You can apply for your own branded domain if you have enough cash, some well-known brands have already started:

  • .google
  • .amazon
  • .sony

At present most brands are using their branded domain name to forward to other domains they own and is used for campaigns or other initiatives.

“Organisations now have the power to brand to the right of the dot”


Brand humanisation


The bank used a branded top-level domain for its initiative to help more young people make the transition from education to work. is clearly distinct from the bank’s main operations, but still associated strongly with the core brand. I like to think of it as the brand taking a back seat and putting the campaign first.


Mango was the first apparel retailer to use a .brand extension with, a campaign featuring Kate Moss & Cara Delevingne.


Abbott gives the people who use their products a voice in this patient-focussed content hub. There are five regional versions of the site, all accessible from this central page:

Brand fun

McDonalds – This cool little URL was created for a campaign a little while back. It redirected through to a landing page on the McDonald’s main site. The campaign has clearly ended, but that redirect hasn’t been adjusted to link back to the homepage, so we get a slightly shouty “access denied” message. Vanity URLs for campaigns are a common application of gLTDs, but we’ll keep getting these gaps in the user journey unless brands keep on top of things like redirects, especially with short-term campaigns.

World domination

Canon have made the move to a completely branded top level domain:

Good causes

Lady Gaga

Led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, Born This Way Foundation was founded in 2012 with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world. The gLTD here allows the organisation to get its whole name into the URL. Not an SEO advantage, but helpful to new audiences seeing the link out of context.

Brand protection

A wider choice of gLTDs allows companies to control and diversify their web presence by creating second level domains for disparate products and services. It could provide increased security against trademark abuses, and certainly opens up new opportunities for website marketing campaigns and strategies.


Pretty self-explanatory in its potential (mis)uses. Apple have registered theirs, and it redirects you to their feedback section:


If you have stupid amounts of money, there is a domain for you.

Will set you back $1,000,000.00 with a renewal fee of $2,899.99


Register at your own risk


Emoji domain names

Yes, yes you can… I’m serious.

Coca-Cola famously registered:

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