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Médéric Burlet
Médéric Burlet

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International Domain Name (IDN)

We now live in a day were branding becomes very important. From creating a simple color identity for a internationally known company to having you own branding for your site.

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About this series

From building apps for clients to building and improving your portfolio branding is an essential part of the process.

Branding is very important as it is what clients, employees, contacts will associates to your brand. Whether it be a logo or a color or both or anything else. If you look at all big companies nowadays you will probably be able to associate a color or a simple logo to them.

In this series we will look at the different ways to create or improve an identity / brand whether it be for your clients or for yourself.


International Domain Name (IDN), they are domain names which accept many Unicode characters. This lets people use accents, Japanese characters, Chinese characters and much more.

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Relevance to branding

With how cheap domain names are becoming over time as well as how advertising is focused on the web, it is important to try and see the bigger picture.
A very good use for IDNs are for localized advertising some countries for example Norse countries might use accents on their 'o'. Let's take the word Glacier in Icelandic this would give us the word Jökull we can see here the special character.

For a company only localized in Iceland or a international company launching a product target there you could have a domain such as: https://jö
This would easier for local people as it is the correct spelling of the word.

This could also be applied for Asian countries. If we look at the Asian countries IDNs can be a very powerful tool for branding for one reason: IDN URLs can be very short and meaningful

A good example I bought a domain: https://火.dev/

This could make a very good way to shorten urls but also from an advertising standpoint this is very easy to remember.

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Buying an IDN 

Buying an IDN can be quite a confusing experience. This is due to the way IDNs are represented. They are converted to what is called punycode an example of this for my domain: https://火.dev/ is actually converted to:

Another point that can be shocking is that if you search for the domain and buy it at first they will display it with your special characters. but halfway through usually when you arrive at the payment stage they will have the punycode version. I have to admit on my first time I was really anxious to proceed with the payment.

The same issue occurs when processing SSL certificates, you need to make sure to use the punycode version on the domain configuration and same for apache or all other domain related configurations.

You can check the languages and tld that are supported here for instance:


IDNs can be a really powerful tool for advertising, branding, and audience targeting. Sadly they are not fully supported everywhere and it can sometimes be a little challenging to use them.

Another way IDNs can be used are in Homograph Attacks but for this subject there is already an awesome post:

Don't hesitate to check my other articles on Broadening Website Branding.

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