The Real o.co Lesson
Branding a new domain name — and especially a new top level domain — takes a long time.
[Update: The .co registry has posted an interview with Overstock regarding what it is doing.] News that Overstock.com, err, o.co, is slowing down its efforts to rebrand to o.co, didn’t come as a big surprise to me.
Too drastic. Too fast.
That’s how I’d describe the company’s move from Overstock.com to o.co.
And there’s a lesson for .brand new top level domain applicants.
Last week I sat with a group of people discussing new TLDs. The question came up: how should a brand move from its .com domain to its .brand?
My answer: very carefully.
Or not at all.
Switching from brand.com to something.brand will be very difficult. Imagine Amazon.com changing its name to SomethingElse.com, but take that challenge times ten.
There are two reasons:
1. The SEO switchover of a new domain name is very, very hard.
2. Right now people don’t understand the right of the dot. The average U.S. internet user knows nothing other than .com; in other countries it’s ccTLD plus perhaps .com.
People won’t understand the right of the dot until hundreds of companies start to promote it. And that will be a long time from now.
Does this mean it will never happen? Of course not. But I think Overstock.com underestimated the challenge it was taking on all by itself.
It probably didn’t help that .co is very close in name to .com, either. But even if they changed their name to O.shop, most people would have no clue how to visit that web site.