Launching a product: domain name strategy for protecting your brand

Mar 18, 2021  - written by  in Corporate

Planning a big product launch? If everything with regards to protecting your brand is under control, what about the domain name? Just like your brandname, your domain name plays an essential role in launching your product. Beyond contributing to its success, it can also be the source of new threats to your brand. That’s why it’s essential to define your domain name strategy from the very beginning of a project.

We’ll be discussing three keys steps for ensuring the protection of your brand when launching a new product:

  1. Conduct an audit of available or already registered domain names
  2. Define a domain name strategy to meet your goals
  3. Protect sensitive domain names

Conduct an audit of available or already registered domain names

In the same way you need to do a prior art search when you create a trademark, conducting a survey of domain names that you might want across the more than 1,500 existing domain name endings is an indispensable step in a product launch strategy. Gandi Corporate Services can help you by recommending a list of relevant domain endings according to your industry or sector while taking into account the prix/availability ratio. This reflection should take place at the beginning of a project since it will determine its feasibility. This allows you to verify that the domain names you want are not already registered by someone else. Depending on the results of this research, you may be required to adjust your strategy.

The domain names are already registered

Bad news: the domain names you wanted, or even just one of them, are already registered. In this situation, you’ll be faced with two possible scenarios:

  1. The wording of the domain name is an essential part of your strategy and you don’t want to reconsider it. In that case, you can evaluate the possibilities of contacting the current owner in order to buy it from them. It’s important to note that this situation might slow down your project as well as constitute a major expense. In order to limit the cost, Gandi Corporate Services can anonymously contact the owner and make a proposal without revealing your identity, which might otherwise cause them to inflate the price.
  2. Reconsider whether you want to register these domain names. This is the wiser decision since you’ll be the one in control of your brand’s identity. This is why it’s so important to start this reflection from the very beginning so you can evaluate the potential of your product idea or brand name.

The domain names are available

Good news: the domain names you wanted are available. You shouldn’t limit this verification to one domain ending, though, and you should check across a wide range of possible endings, or at least the domain endings most relevant to your business. If this advanced search is satisfactory you can then turn your attention to your naming strategy. Be sure to maintain confidentiality to avoid abusive registrations due to leaks. Once you’ve made your choice, it’s recommended to simultaneously launch the registration of different domain names, prioritizing automated domain endings and those that don’t have any registration restrictions.

Define a domain name strategy to meet your goals

With nearly 750 TLDs (top-level domains) available in the Gandi Corporate Services catalog, you have a wide range of opportunities open to you. With domain endings sorted by type, you should then define your domain name strategy according to your objectives and the targeting of your product.

Universal targeting: favor classic gTLDs

Is your product targeted on an international market? Then you should look to generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). These are the most common and well known domain endings, like .com, .net, .org, and .info. They’re generic, transnational, and universal in character.

Geographic targeting: focus on ccTLDs

Are you targeting a particular geographic area? You should know that every country has its own, specific domain endings. These are the ccTLDs, or Country-Code Top-Level Domains. The French ccTLD is .fr, the United Kingdom’s is .uk, the United States’ is .us, etc. By opting for a ccTLD, you specify the geographic area that you’ll be doing business in or selling products and services. Internet users more easily identify with these and as a result trust them more. For certain territories, like English- and German-speaking countries, this might be a prerequesite to your success. Just be aware that certain ccTLDs have specific eligibility conditions, like a local presence for example, so don’t forget to check the registration requirements.

Linguistic targeting: choose IDNs

Does your target market use an alphabet other than the Latin alphabet? IDNs, or Internationalized Domain Names, let people from all around the world use domain names in local language and writing systems. IDNs are created using characters from the Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, or Devanagari alphabets. By choosing these TLDs, you can be sure that you’re reaching exactly your target market, all while gaining their trust.

Market targeting: opt for new generic domain endings

Are you looking for an impactful domain name for a marketing campaign? New extensions offer a wide variety of meaningful words that define your area of business — .agency, .design, .events, .fashion, .finance, .gallery, .tech, … — so many memorable domain endings are available to distinguish your product launch. What’s more, a large number of them also have blocking products available to guarantee the security of your intellectual property.

Domain name tld types according targeting

Whatever the most appropriate domain name dedicaed to your product launch, keep in mind that the protection of your brand runs through the registration of multiple related domain names, linked to your defensive strategy.

Protect sensitive domain names

With any product launch come new cybersquatting threats. Best practices for protecting your brand should also extend to this type of project. Here’s our advice.

Establish a defensive strategy

A defensive strategy consists of registering certain domain names in order to prevent cybersquatting. These domains names can be used in the future, and protect you from malevolence on the part of third parties who may want to extract profit from you. Gandi Corporate Services support you as you define your virtual protection zone according to:

  • your business area, your current market and your desired market
  • opportunities represented by each domain ending according to territory
  • the risk assessment for each domain ending, and by territory

Use a monitoring tool to protect your brand

When faced with the illegitimate use of your brand, you need to react quickly. Opting for a monitoring service guarantees that in case of fraud related to your domain names, you can react effectively. A monitoring service acts as your eyes and ears and will detect all uses of your brand in in domain names.

Gandi’s monitoring service extends across 1,200 TLDs, typographic variants, and even subdomains and IDN homoglyphs. More than 200 million domain names are monitored daily in order to alert you of any illegitimate domain name registration containing your brand name in 24 hours. Thanks to this monitoring service, you can react quickly and challenge registrations that violate your rights.

Consider a .brand to gain flexibility in your choice of domain names

Going even further, you can even consider getting your own TLD using your brand name, also known as a .brand (or dotbrand). This is an option that several large businesses are exploring, notably .sncf, .bnpparibas and .leclerc.

A .brand allows you to ensure the best user experience thanks to having your own, dedicated digital space. And thanks to this digital space, you get greater flexibility in choosing and using domain names since only you can use this domain ending. For a product launch, you are free to use whatever domain you please.

If this is a project that is interesting to you, you should know that the next application window defined by ICANN is currently expected at the end of 2022. A great business project that merits consideration.

Thanks to these different steps, you can ensure a product launch that’s well adapted to your goals without risking your intellectual property. Our team is available to help you with any questions and guide you as you define your strategy. Please feel free to contact us at corporatecontact@gandi.net.