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French Regional Reform Does Not Mean the End of GeoTLDs

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GeoTLDs are the digital facet of initiatives to promote a region

Against a background of heightened competition between regions at both the national and international levels, it is instructive to analyze the role of digital technology in current promotion strategies. The race for recognition and attractiveness between the communicators for public institutions must also be won on the Internet, especially when young people and people outside France are the targets.

In addition to communication supports such as a promotional website or presence on social media, a naming strategy based on a geoTLD such as .alsace or .bzh is an effective means of promoting a region by highlighting its digital brand territory.

But a geoTLD is not an end in itself and must be part of a global project, whose scope is to promote a range of services and create a community of local stakeholders.

New map of 14 regions - Elysé

The regional reform: a sustainability issue for territorial branding and geoTLDs

The draft regional reform announced by the French Prime Minister on April 8, 2014 during his general policy speech and detailed in President François Hollande’s press release on June 3 queries the relevance of the geoTLD initiatives being launched this year. Is there any point in continuing an initiative based on an administrative entity which no longer exists?.

However, this misses a key point: that of the point of view of users in deciding what a region represents. For example, many geoTLD projects now go beyond the administrative boundaries of a county or region and take into account cross-border usages or geographic areas.

Proof can be seen in the initiative around the Ardenne regional brand, which includes stakeholders located in the three countries involved in promoting the region, or in digital terms, in the .cat TLD, which federates the Catalan language community far beyond the borders of the Spanish region alone.

A region is not just an administrative division

If we adopt the user’s point of view of a region, it is clear that many of them are destinations, first and foremost. It would therefore seem appropriate, as part of the impending regional reform, to consider maintaining the current projects, since they make sense for the people concerned, and to consider what the operational consequences will be for the services in charge of these initiatives.