Local SMEs, dubbed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson as the the lifeblood of Londons economy , will have the opportunity to directly associate themselves with the capital and by default, with Brand London.
.LONDON will launch alongside over a thousand new Internet domains that are set to completely change the face of the World Wide Web, as part of a wider plan by ICANN, the global Internet body. London will join Vienna and Berlin as the third city domain to go live, with .NYC following suit in October. The launch of .BERLIN earlier this year saw 41,000 domains registered in the first 48 hours, with companies large and small recognising the value of a geographical domain. In the UK alone, some 200,000 SMEs have already expressed an interest in the regional domain.
Shockingly, over a third of UK SMEs still do not have a website, and just a third are selling goods and services online. Even more alarmingly, only half of businesses and charities in the UK have an online portal.
In an increasingly digital age, it is essential that businesses build a digital identity to match their offline presence. .LONDON provides businesses with the opportunity to align themselves with a brand with prestigious connotations.
Whats more, the benefits of a domain offering this geographical association cannot be ignored. .LONDON will directly associate businesses with the capital, which is a particular plus point for SMEs keen to establish a connection with the city. A .LONDON domain instantly reveals to consumers where a business is located, indicating whether its product or service is of relevance. Consumers searching for goods and services in the city will be able to instantly recognise the locality of a business, which has the potential to lead to increased interest and customer loyalty.
Consumers are increasingly reliant on technology to provide information quickly and SMEs that fail to establish an online presence could lose out on business. An online presence implies that a brand is both reliable and forward-thinking.
Londons status as a global leader in innovation and technology will enable .LONDON domain holders to align themselves directly with innovation, strength and determination. The citys brand has strengthened in recent years, with the 2012 Olympics and Royal Wedding both helping to cement a watertight reputation for excellence and success. Aligning with this reputation can only be favourable for SMEs.
The .LONDON domain extension provides SMEs with a springboard for which to build their online profile and carve out a strong digital identity from the get-go. Applying for the .LONDON domain could be the first step to building a solid online future so it’s time to take it.
Stefano Maruzzi is VP of EMEA at GoDaddy.