Alternative Domain Extensions
Do they still work?
Ten years since the introduction of ‘new G’ alternative domain extensions, we take a look at why firms build brands around this asset class. And attempt to chart the intriguing and unique messaging opportunities that have emerged in the ‘new G’ space.
Why alternative domain extensions?
Firms that opt to brand on alternative domain extensions typically want to infuse their brand with the messaging this implies. They are dynamic, forward-thinking and/or wish to be seen as such, operating at the cutting edge. If deployed correctly, the best alternative domain extensions send a little signal to the user, to make a mental note that the brand at hand is with it and different (from the 99% non-new gTLD websites that makes up the WWW).
The adoption of alternative domain extensions in rapidly moving industries (e.g. fintech, blockchain, NFTs) has reached such a level that within these ecospheres, a further layer of interplay has entered the arena.
It’s hard to explain the phenomenon to someone who has not experienced the phenomenon first-hand, but it centers on the fact that so many firms in these sectors have sucessfully built their brands on new gTlD extensions.
You might think that with a wide range of these real-life use cases in play, the impact of being different, dynamic, etc. would be diluted. But this does not appear to be the case. Instead, something else has happened with the messaging. Another rich layer of richness has been added..
A Maturing Branding Tool
On the one hand, you benefit from the messaging of being different, as you use a new gTLD (and/or are led to using one, on account of your thinking differently). But then you get linked in the user’s mind with the various projects also operating on alternative domain extensions.
Your messaging thus gets ‘read’ twice, allowing for further underlining of your core brand positioning (dynamic, forward-thinking, etc.).
And this feeling of a multitiered structure underpinning your brand is quite appealing to the human mind. The user is caught in the reverberation taking place and receives positive reinforcement.
Like a good writer, you make the reader feel like if they went left or right, the story would hold equal depth an detail. (But here we are already on this middle path, so we might as long continue onward..) The iceberg effect, always knowing more than your reader. It’s all in there, even though you ‘write’ but a couple of words.
And the reason this depth effect works is because of the central point of releasing a selection of new alternative domain extensions in the first place. To explore nuance. Specifically target. Give full expression to the longtail.
Alternative Domain Extensions = The Niche Approach
Think of it this way, humans will always constantly niche down. There will always be a subsector or splinter of every subsector or splinter. Our diversity is what makes us incredible as a species.
You can learn a modern language and think you’re great, but look left to the branches and families of which it is a part, or right to the dialects (and each of the basilects, mesolects, acrolects and all manner of creoles) it spawns, and you soon see there is endless pockets of richness in play!
And so is it at this particular juncture for new gTLD extensions. Ten years after they first danced onto the scene, they are still fresh and still targeted.
Yet their cute, playful nature has also allowed for rich internal interplay within this domain class itself.
The ‘New G’ Dance
The eyes of a user in the fintech space used to seeing .FINANCE, .EXCHANGE or .HOLDINGS among the various sites they visit daily are not jaded. Rather, they have come to fashion a grouping within their brain where these unrelated sites all dance alongside each other in their respective pursuits to be different and bring their unique vision to the world.
A pool of switched-on actors, the extent and focus of their switchedonedness diverse, and, indeed, through this very interaction creating yet another new inherently diverse and playful entity in it own right.
The Future of Alternative Domain Extensions
You see? It is a hard thing to explain! Unless you’ve gradually watched the phenonmenon emerge in your own mind through consistent engagement with ‘new G’ URLs. But best believe, the success of countless brands shows it’s there!
Adoption of alternative domain extensions still abounds. And as long as we live in a world where a few main extensions account for a primate share of internet domains, we are far from a saturation point. So the uncanny ability of alternative domain extensions to stir the user looks set to continue for many decades to come.
Plus, who knows, by then further intricacies will likely have emerged. We are, after all, a species seemingly prone to endless diversity, and more and more of our clan are coming online each day.
Even as we speak, the next gen of social networks like Blue Sky and Mastadon are showing their difference by encouraging users to be different, too, and use their URL as their handle. With brand aware users now sporting many a slick ‘new G’ on their bio, preferring the personalized, inventive and playful exploration of identity facilitated by this unique class of digital assets.
Ten years since the introduction of ‘new G’ alternative domain extensions, we take a look at why firms build brands around this asset class. And attempt to chart the intriguing and unique messaging opportunities that have emerged in the ‘new G’ space..