Small Businesses Should Embrace the Dot London Look

Christian Nellemann discusses the marketing benefit of .london domains

On 29th April 2014, ICANN, the body that controls online domain names, will open applications for .london domains. For London’s businesses, great and small, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to localise their business and register a unique business domain before anyone else.

This is advantageous for small firms in particular as much of their brand development and representation happens online, mainly via their website and budget-friendly social media work. So, for London’s 800,000 small businesses, the fairly lengthy process is worth considering.

What will happen?

Applications open on the 29th but there will be a three month wait before the first names are assigned. After that time, any addresses requested by just one company (or person) will be dished out, but any names for which there is competition will then be allocated according to a set of priorities.

First, and most importantly for businesses, come those that already own a trademark on the name. Secondly come Londoners that already have domains under different suffixes (so XLN Telecom would qualify here for and then, finally, any domains that have several claimants but none with a strong case for ownership will go to auction with the highest bidder taking home the goods.

So, if you already have a website or a trademark then the chances are you will be able to secure what could be a useful piece of branding.

What are the benefits of a .london domain?

  • Anyone looking for goods or services like yours in London will instantly recognise you as local, building a connection and level of trust that others will struggle to complete with.
  • You will also gain a greater affiliation with the ‘London’ brand in general. Globally recognised and respected, London is still riding high following the Olympics, the Royal Wedding and the Golden Jubilee and is a destination for millions of tourists every year.

Arguments against, however, include that it might turn out to be quite expensive (pricing decisions haven’t been announced yet but you can keep up with developments here).

Updating your domain will also mean another trip to printers to replace any printed marketing collateral and, if you already have a strong online presence and brand, then really the effect could be negligible.

Nevertheless, there are already signs that the domains will be in high demand, with a YouGov survey of London-based small businesses revealing that one in four were lining up an application. The reasons given by these businesses included the fact that a .london domain would help customers find them more easily (there are likely to be positive search engine optimisation benefits), because they are proud to be London-based and that it would boost sales.

Sadly there doesn’t seem to be any plans to roll out similar domains for other major cities in the UK, so for the time being it is just the capital’s small businesses for whom a .london domain offers food for thought.

Christian Nellemann is CEO and founder of XLN Telecom, a specialist provider of broadband, telephone, energy and card payment solutions to more than 130,000 UK small businesses.

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