Domain names don’t have a reputation for being anything to get excited about. There has been a tendency to view them as a necessity, rather than something aspirational, and they certainly weren’t considered a marketing tool. But this is all to change with the launch of hundreds of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Local business Dot Kiwi is offering a new gTLD option with undeniable New Zealand flair - .kiwi, which is leading the world as one of the first new gTLDs to launch
to market. The Dot Kiwi team predicts we will see the number of domain names associated with New Zealand multiply dramatically.
Founded by a group of expat New Zealanders based in Vancouver, Dot Kiwi was approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to become the world’s only .kiwi registry. Headed by information technology specialist Tim Johnson, the team of nine boasts over 25 years of industry-related experience and a legion of high profile New Zealanders on its board of directors including Peter Dengate Thrush, a Barrister specialising in intellectual property, competition and internet law, and former Chairman of both Internet New Zealand and ICANN.
Sir John Hansen, a past judge of the New Zealand High Court is also a member of the board. Other expat backers include directors Hugh and June Richardson, David Rishworth, Dr. John Fraser, and Canadian Jim Cranston, the former Chief Information Officer of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The Dot Kiwi team firmly believes in their offering, but some might ask, why invest in a .kiwi when a .nz already exists? Johnson believes a .kiwi address is not only an opportunity for entrepreneurs looking for a blank canvas, but it provides a very different offering from the current New Zealand domain name. “New Zealanders have generally chosen to align their online presence with a .nz purely by default,” he says. “One of the key benefits of a .kiwi is its global association; it has become a strong international brand and Dot Kiwi gives New Zealanders the opportunity to invest in a more globally recognisable domain which is also more reflective of what New Zealand represents.”
Dot Kiwi’s research certainly suggests the international perception of the word ‘kiwi’ has the following connotations: friendly, innovative, respected, unique, global and honest. New Zealand’s ‘clean and green’ reputation also impacts on the kiwi brand and is of increasing value at a time when environmental sustainability and eco-consciousness is of such global significance. “For marketers, this shift in gTLD options provides a huge benefit for both local and global brands”, explains Peter Dengate Thrush. “How your brand is perceived is crucial. Internationally, the kiwi brand is very powerful and seen as fun, casual and friendly. I’d like to think small businesses, the backbone of New Zealand, would benefit most from it, but obviously there are global brands that would also benefit from that sort of brand perception.”
If Statistics New Zealand figures are anything to go by, people are continuing to, and even increasing their investment in, internet related infrastructure. Since 2006, the rate of growth in .nz domains has exceeded that of .com and .net, proving that there is a very real desire for businesses to align with New Zealand. Aligning with New Zealand is one thing, but whether we identify ourselves as Kiwis is crucial to the success of the .kiwi gTLD. And according to a recent research study, we certainly do. Of those Dot Kiwi survey participants, a staggering 93 percent of New Zealanders consider themselves Kiwis and 24 percent of were interested in owning a .kiwi domain. “The .kiwi identity is a huge opportunity for New Zealanders as a .kiwi domain or email address better reflects their business or personal attributes than the current domain names available,” says Johnson. “The domain offers New Zealand organisations and individuals greater choice, branding creativity and the opportunity to embrace their kiwiness and differentiate themselves from competitors, providing an exciting way of proclaiming their identity online.
"As the archway to your website, your domain name gives customers an experience before they get to your site. The .kiwi domain is fun, casual and friendly, which will give your website visitors, and email recipients a truly kiwi introduction to your business."
As with any gTLDs, no two domain names can be the same, so Dot Kiwi is urging companies to take steps to protect their trademarks and invest in their online identity. To make this easier, a 60-day Sunrise Period is estimated to begin around mid December, during which tradmark owners may register a domain name matching their owned mark. The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) is a centralised database of verified trademarks established to protect intellectual property rights during, and after the launch of new gTLDs to the global marketplace. As an official TMCH agent, Dot Kiwi can register a company’s trademark to help ensure its intellectual property rights are protected. Registering a trademark through Dot Kiwi is designed to be a smooth and swift process to encourage trademark owners to protect their intellectual property online.
Those that wish to proceed with using Dot Kiwi as their official TMCH agent should review their trademark information at www.iponz.govt.nz and visit www.dot-kiwi.com/sunrise.You will be asked to submit a TMCH Signed Declaration as well as a single sample of Proof of Use (evidence that the trademark you are registering is being actively used). Dot Kiwi will then confirm costs and file the application.