Josh Bourne ⬥ 27 January
A few days ago, a client sent me an email asking me to weigh in on what domain names her company should register to correspond with its presence in markets in the Middle East. While she was planning to register the core brand name in the relevant ccTLDs, or country code top-level domains (Brand.ae for the United Arab Emirates, Brand.co.il for Israel, etc.), her distributor in the region had advised her that local Internet users tend not to direct navigate to domains in their ccTLDs. Instead, she said that consumers typically type in the brand name followed by “ME” in .COM. So, the distributor advised, our client should register BrandME.com.
The client asked me if I agreed that this was a common practice, and if other major brands followed this naming convention. To my knowledge, it was much more common for brands to stick with ccTLD domains. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of any big brands that follow the BrandME.com practice my client had described. But it sounded interesting, so I wanted to look into it further.
I decided to take a sample of the biggest brands and see whether or not they used BrandME.com domain names. For a quick reference, I looked at the top 20 brands on Interbrand’s Best Global Brands of 2011 list.
Of those 20, I found that only four owned their BrandME.com domain names: Coca-Cola (Coca-ColaME.com, but not CocaColaME.com or CokeME.com), Google (GoogleME.com), McDonald’s (McDonaldsME.com), and Disney (DisneyME.com). Of those four, only two, McDonald’s and Disney, actually direct those domains to content. McDonaldsME.com redirects to McDonaldsArabia.com; DisneyME.com displays Disney content in English.
Of the other 16, some brands’ BrandME.com domains had been registered by third parties. Most pointed to Pay-Per-Click ads or parked pages. Others did not resolve to content. The rest of the BrandME.com domains were not currently registered.
Because the client is a cosmetics company, I checked about five other cosmetic brands’ BrandME.com domains as well. None resolved to brand content. In fact, none resolved to content at all.
So what did I end up telling the client? Basically, it won’t hurt her to make sure all her bases are covered by registering her BrandME.com domain name. But the standard practice is to stick to registering the brandname in the ccTLDs of the relevant markets. If a company has a presence in Saudi Arabia, in other words, it should go after Brand.com.sa.