The dangers of building a brand on a tenuous country code

About two years ago I wrote with concern about Bit.ly’s use of Libya’s country code.

I noted that It’s always important to keep in mind that a company can’t “own” a domain the way it owns real estate.

Now it appears that companies that have built brand names on Libya’s country code are facing difficult times. TechCrunch writes that Letter.ly and Abrupt.ly have lost their domains as a result of the Libyan crisis.

What about Bit.ly you may wonder?

Awhile back, Bit.ly registered J.mp, which I speculated at the time was part of a plan to fully migrate away from .ly.

Perhaps the time to make the migration is now.

PS: I’ve compiled a list country codes used to creatively build brand names.

Bit.ly Pro is great news for ccTLD owners

Country code registrars around the world must have been smiling when Bit.ly announced its new enterprise service Bit.ly Pro.

For $995 per month a company can leverage Bit.ly’s platform to support its own custom URL. (UPDATE: You can get Bit.ly Pro for free, but with a usage cap and limited feature set; see comments below).

At this price point, we’re only talking about large companies, but there are plenty of them that will find value in having a branded URL that provides excellent tracking data. Bit.ly reports that 6,000 companies have signed up so far. And while not all of these companies will use ccTLDs, most of them probably will.

Companies that are now using Bit.ly Pro include Amazon (amzn.to) and the New York Times (nyti.ms).

And, looking ahead, I’m sure the price of this service will drop, which will attract many more companies into the fold.

I’ve collected a running list of companies using ccTLDs in creative ways here. I expect this list to grow rapidly in the months ahead.

Bit.ly is leaving Libya for the islands

jmp_logo

So Bit.ly has launched an even shorter URL: J.mp.

You can’t get any shorter than this, at least not until we see single-digital TLDs.

I can’t help but wonder if this new URL is a sign that Bit.ly is planning to shift away from its Libyan-dependent domain to one that may be a tad bit more politically stable.

And you could argue that .MP does the trick. It is the domain of the Northern Mariana Islands. It’s also a part of the US (in some legal fashion that I don’t fully understand), which has to make the lawyers at Bit.ly breathe more easily.

So my prediction is that Bit.ly will be replaced by J.mp. And though Bit.ly might play up the shorter angle for the reason why, I think it’s the legal angle that matters more.

PS: I added J.mp to a growing list of these branded country code domains.