Branded domain working for SNCF but is a dot brand for you?
France’s national rail company, SNCF, is the latest corporation to launch a major rebranding initiative around its own branded domain. Though potentially beneficial for a big name like SNCF, a dot brand domain registration is expensive and complicated. Luckily, many other options are available for businesses with fewer resources.
Dot brand domain a ticket to success?
In response to decreased turnover and the roll out of new services designed to attract more travelers, the French railway company – formerly known as “Voyages-sncf.com” – has rebranded itself to the simpler, shorter “Oui.SNCF”.
This rebranding effort is the company’s first in nearly two decades. All its services will now include the word “Oui” which is, of course, the French word for “Yes”: Ouigo, OuiBus, inOui.
SNCF is the most recent example of a big name company launching its own .BRAND top-level domain. In 2017, companies from a wide array of industries – from Hermes to Visa – began to roll out their own .BRAND domains.
It’s too soon to tell if these pioneers will pave the way for other companies looking to register their own branded domain names. But if your business is considering doing just that, here’s what you should know.
Why register a dot brand?
In case it's not clear, a branded domain combines a keyword or phrase with the name of a brand: keyword.BRAND. Note: the domain doesn’t actually end with the word .BRAND. It’s just used as a placeholder for a company name, i.e. .SNCF.
.BRAND domains were first approved by ICANN in 2013. Since then, numerous companies have applied with SNCF one of the most prominent, especially in Europe. Other big names like Barclays, BMW, and Canon have all registered their own .BRAND domains.
According to recent stats, as of this year 566 .BRAND domains have been delegated, with 9,000+ registered across multiple countries.
Adopting a branded domain come with several key advantages:
Total ownership = heightened security
As SNCF now owns the .SNCF extension, the company controls every domain name registered under it. An open registration domain – for example, a .COM - on the other hand could be used by a homoglyph. Complete ownership of .SNCF means the company is able to restrict registration access, reducing the risk of fake domain names being registered.
A company has complete control over who uses the .BRAND domain, alerting customers to the fact that the .BRAND is authorised. But a .BRAND also provides other ways to generate consumer trust, for instance via opportunities for personalisation through “my.brand” initiatives (e.g. Pascaltalks.BRAND) or professional emails linked to the .BRAND: Pascal@loves.BRAND.
Greater brand differentiation and visibility
“Oui.SNCF” is short and memorable. It enables the company to associate its brand with a meaningful keyword (“Oui”), promoting a clear call-to-action not only on its e-commerce site but anywhere the domain appears in offline promotions. It is, in short, more than just another .COM. It is a way to associate the brand with an idea.
SNCF is looking to become the leading French e-tourism platform by the end of this decade, with plans to launch a full range of travel options: car share, taxi booking, bus service. With .SNCF, the company can create a domain for every connected service – idcab.sncf, for instance - reinforcing the security and branding of each offering.
Smart alternatives to dot brand
Registering a branded domain isn’t an easy process. It takes money and time.
No one can say for sure when ICANN will be ready for a 2nd round of new TLD applications so, even if you want to apply, it may be a while before you can. Moreover, the application process can be quite lengthy, requiring months of preparation.
If a dot brand domain is out of reach to you, you should consider other available top-level domains. With 800+ domain extensions to choose from, there’s no shortage of ways for you to customize your domain name and build the professional online image you’re looking for.
And keep in mind, we offer numerous gTLD-related services. Every domain registered with EuroDNS includes an SSL certificate to protect your customers' private information, a domain-specific professional email address so you can take full control of your online presence, and our classic, robust DNS service for optimal site performance.
You can also speak with a member of our sales team about DPML trademark protection.
Look into the other options we have available. And get in touch with us if you have any questions. We’re always happy to offer advice and assistance!