Brands Using Several Extensions Can be Confusing | DomainInvesting.com

Brands Using Several Extensions Can be Confusing

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An observation I have made is that some new gTLD registries and some domain registrars promote various domain extensions to companies encouraging them to use these alternative domain names as companion websites. In my opinion, having multiple websites for one company can be confusing and potentially dangerous to consumers.

I read Alan Dunn’s well written article about Nissan and their attempt to get the Nissan.com domain name. It’s a very interesting read when you have a few moments. One thing that struck me was when Alan wrote about Nissan’s domain name strategy:

“In fact, on Page 26 of the opening brief, it reads:

“Nissan Motor’s Internet Strategy Manager, Merril Davis, puts it in a firm-wide memorandum distributed in 1999, ‘our current proliferation of regional websites and URL’s creates confusion for customers and fragments [the] Nissan and Infiniti brands.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Furthermore the corporate website for the Nissan Motor Corporation is located at Nissan-Global.com, which doesn’t show up on the first page of Google when you search for Nissan. The company even owns NissanGlobal.com (without the hyphen) and doesn’t forward the name to Nissan-Global.com. Obviously, Goliath has some issues in understanding how domain names work.

Nissan Motor Co. also operates ChooseNissan.com, NissanFinance.com, NissanNews.com, NissanOnetoOneRewards.com and likely others.”

I don’t know about you, but this section reminded me of registrars selling the new gTLD domain names to companies that already have a web presence. I still don’t know why major companies would want to go through the trouble of setting up alternative websites when their customers, clients, users, or other website visitors can easily find them already.

Without a doubt, I think brand protection is important. Major companies should absolutely own domain names in other extensions that could be used by nefarious actors to trick consumers. I think it would be best for these alternative domain names to be forwarded to the company’s website. However, I think it would be unwise to create confusion by using many different extensions when their main website will suffice.

Not only do I think it is confusing for a company to use various domain names for different activities that are associated with the company, but it could also lure consumers into a false sense of security. This could be dangerous for these companies and consumers that patronize them.

I recently wrote about an Enom phishing email that used Enom.ws as its domain name. If Enom had previously used a variety of non-.com domain names for various activities, a customer may have assumed they were using the .ws website for their verifications. I likely would have noticed, but other consumers, who could be accustomed to visiting alternative extensions, may have thought this alternative domain name was legitimate.

I am still not much of a new gTLD domain name investor, but I do see why some companies would want to use them. However, I think it can be confusing when a company uses a variety of new domain name extensions when they already have a strong presence.

As always, I welcome your thoughts!


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (15)

    Maggie

    Interesting story, bits of which I’ve read about on and off, for years. This is a fairly obvious question but has Nissan Motors ever actually tried to buy the domain from Mr. Nissan? Surely it would have been cheaper for Nissan to have simply made Mr.Nissan a generous offer years ago? On the other hand, I’m sure the various lawsuits have kept teams of lawyers at Nissan well-paid for years, so there’s no real incentive for them to settle this quickly, if at all…

    March 18th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    steve

    @maggie

    I also wondered why Nissan hadn’t just bought the domain. Crazy.

    But you’re right. Why would attorneys work towards a “settlement” when you can bill the client $400 K per year? The IP team at Nissan just want to keep their jobs. The lawyers want to bill. And so it goes.

    I’m not sure how Tesla resolved buying tesla.com — did it finally just give in or had negotiations been ongoing for weeks, months, a year?

    March 18th, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Site.company

    Nissan Motors should using own gtld .nissan

    March 18th, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      Andre

      Exactly. .NISSAN is the answer or .BRAND. We wrote an article on this topic that offers valuable insights to this discussion. Thanks for your thoughts Elliot: http://authenticweb.com/why-brand-registries-are-the-best-defense-9-reasons/

      In reply to Site.company | March 19th, 2016 at 12:43 am

      Guillaume

      dot brand is definitely an answer to that sort of challenges. Nissan owns several dot brands : .nissan, .infinity, .datsun. The brand datsun was relaunched in 2013, and is mainly active in Russia and india.
      The multiplicity of domains enables to unclutter the websites. It is complicated to put, on the same website, very different and heterogeneous contents: Marketing, financial, other products, HR..
      The risk is of course the dilution and the misunderstanding of the brand.
      More info on dot brand on http://dotstories.com

      In reply to Site.company | March 24th, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Jeffrey Sass

    Creating multiple websites for one brand could be confusing, but that’s not the only way for a brand to use multiple domains in effective ways. New extensions that have meaning can be easy to remember shortcuts to deep links within a company website. For example, Swatch.club redirects to the page at Swatch.com about the Swatch Club (http://www.swatch.com/en/swatch-club/about-the-club). Yes, I am biased, but that seems like a logical use of an additional domain name, making it potentially easier for an interested customer to find what they are looking for. .News,.app, and many other new extensions can also make great shortcuts. Using multiple domains doesn’t necessarily mean having multiple websites. Thanks for the post, Elliot.

    March 19th, 2016 at 5:33 am

      Elliot Silver

      That is a good point.

      Shortcuts are probably less confusing than operating websites on multiple extensions.

      I think we all need to realize that savvy, domain-wise people like those in this space, are usually not the target audience for major companies who might consider using more than one extension for various websites. We might be a part of that audience, but we make up a tiny percentage of people. I think the general public can be confused. Maybe this will change in time (my guess is awareness will improve), but I think one company operating many different websites on different urls (even .com names) can get confusing.

      In reply to Jeffrey Sass | March 19th, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Asset

    it’s easy to understand :

    when you look for technology news in a paper journal , you are not going to read the whole joirnal , right ?

    so having the extension with meaning is a shortcut to that.

    uber.jobs : look for jobs in that company.

    March 19th, 2016 at 5:50 am

      Elliot Silver

      First of all, Uber.Jobs is NOT owned by Uber. If you visit, you can see that website is an affiliate link and a Whois search shows that the domain name is not registered to Uber. That is confusing, no?

      Secondly, I think it would be confusing for regular people who don’t know what “dot Jobs” is. Many would goto UberJobs.com and end up on another site not owned by Uber. They would need to own both urls if they are promoting a .jobs domain name. Perhaps they should already own both, but again, it’s confusing. It’s also more difficult to get domain names when you have a generic name like “Uber” as a brand because other people or companies could own those as long as they aren’t infringing.

      I think it generally makes more sense for a brand to use its main website for all important functions. Uber can easily use uber.com/jobs, tell people to “visit Uber.com and click jobs in the top menu,” or tell them to find the careers link in the app.

      In reply to Asset | March 19th, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Tony Case

      I have to disagree. I think if they advertise “visit: http://www.Uber.jobs” the majority of people will go to the correct website. We Domainers on the other hand are focused on putting “.com” on the back of everything but we are primarily “.com” domainers. People visit “Wikipedia.org” all the time. I doubt the majority of them type in “Wikipediaorg.com” I think these new gTld’s are going to get very familiar with the public and fast.

      In reply to Elliot Silver | March 19th, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Elliot Silver

      I would guess the majority of Wikipedia’s traffic is from Google. I would also imagine Wikipedia.com gets considerable “typo” traffic. Finally, .org has been around for a very long time and the general public knows what .org is.

      March 19th, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Ray Fassett

      I can see I am late to this party but can’t resist making a comment.

      First of all, Uber.jobs is registered to an Uber recruiter whose job is to recruit drivers for Uber. I believe Uber calls their recruiters “Ambassadors”.

      It has long been common for recruiters, both internal and external, to receive compensation upon delivering a new hire, often called a commission. So it is an affiliate link, what does this matter? It is a proven way to track in the digital world and a method Uber.com obviously enables for its recruiters.

      This recruiter is using Uber.jobs as a URL shortener to his own Uber.com approved affiliate link. Pretty creative idea if you ask me. You want to attack the whois record…who cares. With the way Uber.jobs is being used, they can take it anytime without much of a fight. The truth is, this recruiter is hustling on their behalf and this is more likely what “Uber.com” sees. Maybe he’ll even get a recruitment award, top producer or something.

      There are likely lot of Uber drivers as a result of this recruiter promoting Uber.jobs. Good for him and good for them. You know, the “regular people” :)

      In reply to Elliot Silver | April 27th, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Asset

    response to :

    Uber can easily use uber.com/jobs, tell people to “visit Uber.com and click jobs in the top menu

    in today economy , it is waste of time , money and energy bills, the visitor have to enter uber ‘com’ then look for fancy images, some popup ads ( if any) then distract to look for other things and then land to that ‘jobs’ link, (at least 2 events :enter site address then click on jobs link) if he did not forgot what was the aim of the visit.

    the uber was an example only, if they did not secure it maybe it is good for them ( will economize money and not buy the ngtld) or maybe they don’t have that SEO and marketing guy who think about every detail, but you may agree if uber.jobs got developed and will be ranked well (google rank them all them same) people will discover that they are losing traffic to the jobs site, and you understand that uber.jobs is not related to taxi driving service so uber will be unable to take them down.

    March 19th, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Purely Space

    I don’t think it’s necessarily and automatically a bad idea for companies to operate on multiple extensions, depending on what the purpose of it was. In SOME circumstances, it might be reasonable for a company to operate their main site at brand.com , have a forum at brand.forum and their store at brand.store – these can simply be linked to normally (e.g. the “Forum” link directs to brand.forum).

    I also think that instead of the longer URL of brand.com/store or store.brand.com , brand.store can be a reasonable option depending on the needs of the company.

    In particular, having multiple extensions allows the different sites of the company to be hosted at different places depending on their needs. Hosting that is optimized for a blog may be very different to what is needed for a forum, for example. It also allows more sensitive sites of the business to be ringfenced off much better. Also, often there is a security-vs-server-time tradeoff, especially when it comes to time spent authenticating logins from multiple users (e.g. if the site is running a forum). So the less secure versus the more secure areas of the business can be hosted separately and differently.

    Of course, trust by the consumer in a domain name is an important factor and should not be ignored. However, that is really something which is difficult to predict and quantify. If a company decides to operate multiple extensions in the way I described above, and if their consumers trust the links, I don’t see the problem.

    I do take the point of malicious websites being an issue who impersonate the real brand. At the same time, this has always been an issue for any brand, even just within the .coms.

    However, that is not to say it’s always good idea to run multiple websites for one company, either. The BIGGEST concern I would have about multiple websites would actually be an SEO one: how are these likely to appear on Google, and what happens if a brand’s main website gets less traffic than their forum? I think THAT is a better argument in support of operating one website than multiple extensions.

    If it weren’t for the considerable possible SEO implications, I do like the idea of brand.forum , brand.store and so on. I don’t see why it would be a negative to host different parts of the brand as completely different sites on different servers with ordinary URL links between them: on the contrary, I’ve outlined some positives for that above. These positives won’t necessarily apply to small companies, but bigger ones or ones with a high level of traffic and with a reason for multiple sites (blog, store, forum) may benefit from that. It’s also certainly cheaper than buying up .brand and running blog.brand, store.brand and forum.brand – and even then, you’d still either be operating multiple sites or forwarding the sites to an existing site, so I don’t see that .brand is necessarily a solution for most companies, even large ones.

    Thank you for this interesting and thought-provoking article – this really prompted me to think about this issue.

    March 19th, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    168

    How new domains are building better brands
    Also well written by Alan just one week prior to the above article.
    A future article?; “Consumers abandon the net in droves, it’s simply to dangerous, too confusing” NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
    Rouge and similar named sites will always be out there. It doesn’t take much effort to out them globally if it’s not obvious.
    Continued use of several domains by brands indicate companies understand the value of multiple properties, and their consumers are not confused. What I experience is a consumer does understand what a commercial domain property is and it’s use regardless of variations.
    What’s “confusing” is calling it a “name”. 30 years and consumers still don’t get why a domain is referred to as a domain “name”.
    The domain industry and commercial use has to evolve, innovate and expand to keep up with global demand and use of the net. This is a basic concept for any industry or company poised to scale. Previous attempts to scale failed. Not this time.
    There is more adoption of geo specific domains than ever before as an example of relevance and multiple properties becoming more important. Relevance is what consumers want and companies are responding. Other examples, Sites “translated” in different languages will never be as good as sites generated in a specific Language, Targeted advertising, Information, in all cases trying to put all relevant subject matter on one site, using redirects, and reducing it for mobile use it’s safe to say, not a good idea. Relevance and Trust can be and is being delivered via multiple properties “in addition to .com” and via “more than 1 .com location”.
    Continued use of several domains by brands can be confusing? They don’t think so.
    My bet is on a brand’s use and acceptance of relevant multiples based on their consumers use and relevant needs. Good news for the domain industry as this is one of the most promising developments for the domain industry to “scale”. It’s a lot easier to have client’s that come back for more than to find a new client for one domain.

    March 19th, 2016 at 1:30 pm

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