Most brands are present on the Internet. It is obvious that the closest the domain name (website address) is to the brand name, the easier it will be found on the web. Unfortunately, for brand holding corporations, it isn’t always easy to name their website using their brand name because the domain names aren’t always available. A domain name must be registered with the competent authorities to have the right to be used exclusively. But registration works on a first come, first served basis and the first entity to register a name is the only one who legally has the right to use it. Brands often face obstacles when naming their website. Here are a few.
In some cases, the brand name is present in the domain name of an individual or a reseller of the brand (samsungaccessories.com for example). The outcome isn’t always negative and the brand owner can contact the domain name owner and come to some arrangement, usually expensive though. There are instances when such a situation can be damaging to the brand. For example when the brand name is used to attract user traffic to pages with no brand-related content (links- advertising) or content which damages the image of the brand (Danone and jeboycottedanone.com calling for the boycott of Danone in 2001). Moreover, it isn’t always possible to trace who registered these misleading domains because they circulated incomplete or wrong information (e.g. the anonymous “Whois” service, “cybersquatting”).
Another obstacle is domain tasting. In the tasting period, the domain name is registered for a free period of five days. During these five days those who registered the domain name use it to attract trafic to their sponsored page. The downside is, it prevents the brand owner from gathering reliable information on available domains because the domain name can remain listed for longer on search engines. Finally, and for the same reason, web users cannot find the brand’s website they are looking for.
Domain tasting can become domain kiting. In this case, the domain name deleted before the end of the 5 days…can be registered again immediately for another 5 days. By endlessly repeating this cycle, the domain name can exist without the owner having to pay.
The major players on the internet are working hard to reduce these detrimental practices. However, their entire disappearance may not be possible. Consequently, brands have to take as much care when choosing the domain name and web address, as they do when selecting their brand name.