Quick. What do the BBC, Amazon, Barclays, HSBC, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, eBay and Google all have in common?
The answer is simple: they are among the millions of organisations that have chosen to establish their main web presence on a “.co.uk” domain name. But why is this so significant?
Consider this: every single company that uses a domain name that ends in “.co.uk” is contributing to brand the “.co.uk” extension each time they publish their web address anywhere – and that benefits ALL .co.uk users.
This makes it easy to see why “dot co dot uk” should be considered the UK’s strongest “brand”, even though it doesn’t show up in regular top brand rankings. Indeed, the “.co.uk” brand surrounds us like air, so pervasive that it has become invisible.
Finally, 47 of the top 100 online retailers in the UK are on .co.uk domains (the list is skewed towards .com by the presence of many global retailers that operate a single worldwide site strategy).
These examples represent the very tip of a massive iceberg since, for every one of these giant firms, there are tens of thousands of smaller companies also doing business from the .co.uk extension.
The exposure that “.co.uk” receives goes far beyond the boundaries of the type of advertising regular brands enjoy.
After all, domain names are an integral part of email addresses, so every outgoing communication is effectively also branding “.co.uk”. Web addresses are commonly also present on business cards, letterheads, brochures and leaflets, fleet livery, tradeshow/exhibition stands, media coverage, invoices and packing slips, packaging and wrapping materials, voicemail messages, watermarks in videos and photos, and in hundreds of other places that would not normally be considered part of a marketing budget.
The success of “.co.uk” is very much a collective, shared effort. Nominet deserve a great deal of credit for working tirelessly over the last 15+ years to promote “.co.uk” as the safe and trusted domain extension for businesses (their latest campaign, “A Great Place to Be” is just the most recent in an extensive series of exercises designed to increase awareness of “.co.uk”).
However, the role played, completely passively, by every single business that has chosen to establish itself on .co.uk is significantly more important since, taken together, these businesses have conspired to give “.co.uk” exposure that no ordinary brand could dream of.
This is reflected in an ever-increasing trust in the .co.uk brand, with 81% of those surveyed expressing a preference for .uk sites when presented with the choice of a .com or .uk web address in search results, according to Nominet’s latest Domain Business survey.
So next time somebody talks to you about a mega-brand such as Coca Cola, Google or Apple, think about your .co.uk web address and the small but vital share it’s given you of the UK’s first and only giga-brand.
(NOTE: the statistics in this article were generated by the simple expedient of looking up each company’s website and classifying it as .co.uk or not)