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Country Extensions vs EBM Domains: How Bitly Navigated the Challenge to Secure Its Brand
By Tsani Gramatikova access_time 3 min read

Bitly, established in 2008 and headquartered in New York City, is a leading URL-shortening service and link management platform. Renowned for its innovation and efficiency, Bitly processes over 600 million monthly links, catering to a diverse clientele across social networking, SMS, and email. 

The Original Choice: and the Libyan Connection

Launched initially on, Bitly was utilising the .ly domain extension – the country code for Libya. While this offered a unique and memorable branding opportunity, it also came with inherent risks. The .ly domain is controlled by the Libyan government, which, at times, has exercised its power to remove domains not aligned with their regulations or deemed incompatible with Muslim law. This political control over the domain presented a potential vulnerability for Bitly, as any significant policy shift or government action in Libya could directly impact their operations.

The Risks of Country-Specific Domains

Bitly’s experience highlights a broader concern for businesses using ccTLDs, especially those from countries with unpredictable political climates or stringent regulatory environments. Each country’s extension is governed by its respective country, meaning that political changes, international relations, and internal policies can directly affect the stability and accessibility of a domain. For instance, issues like those experienced during Brexit or scandals and disputes within the governing bodies of these domains can pose significant risks. Moreover, some ccTLDs are more susceptible to cyber threats, adding another layer of risk for businesses.

The Strategic Shift to the Exact Brand Match (EBM) domain

Recognising these challenges, Bitly redirected its services from to This move mitigated the risks associated with the Libyan-controlled .ly domain and aligned Bitly with other major technology players like Twitter, Google, and YouTube, opting for more globally recognised and less region-specific domain names. This transition to the exact brand match domain established the company as a resilient and authoritative technology company.

The Takeaway: Balancing Brand Identity with Stability

Bitly’s transition to exemplifies the delicate balance businesses must strike between creating a unique brand identity and ensuring operational stability. While ccTLDs can offer memorable and distinctive branding opportunities, they also come with a set of risks linked to the regulatory landscape of the respective countries. 

EBM domains like offer a more stable and controlled branding environment. These domains are instantly recognisable and easier to remember, offering higher trust and credibility. 

While it may be tempting to save money by opting for a cheaper, compromise domain name, the potential loss in terms of brand recognition and revenue should not be underestimated. Investing in a premium domain name is a smart business move that can pay off in the long run. Contact us to learn more about our premium domain options and how they can help your business grow.

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