Brand owners are usally caring quite well for their brands. Lots of money goes into all areas that can strengthen the brand. Great designs, messaging, trademark protection etc. When it comes to domain names, brand owners take care to register their brand names on most top level domains, generic top level domains (gTLD) and country code domains (ccTLD). A global brand will usuallay use .COM as the main web site, and create country specific, or language specific web sites that the ccTLDs they wanted, or sometimes not even their .COM address.
Consumer facing brands are experiencing issues with domain names pretending to be a legitimate brand reseller or even pretend to be the brand owner. Consumers are lured into fake online shops, with the sad effect that the brand itself is weakened. The same issues are also hitting B2B brands, but not to the same extent.
From January 12 to April 12 next year, it is possible to register a generic top level domain for your brand. This opens up many possibilities for brand owners. We will see many ways to use these new top level names, with web sites having domains like: www.yourbrand, product.yourbrand, support.yourbrand, investor.yourbrand etc. And email addresses like: peter.sellers@yourbrand.
The entry cost for applying to get a gTLD is US$185 000, which is set by the authority who governs the names and numbers for the Internet, ICANN. That comes in addition to costs for writing the application, technical solution/service to operate the name and maintaining the other responsibilities as set by ICANN. Prepare for a total one time fees in the range of US$250 000 – $400 000, and annual running fees in the US$50 000 – $150 000 range.
To justify the fairly high cost, there must be significant benefits. Here are some of the benefits that I see for brand owners who own a .brand:
- Stronger brand recognition. Customers and partners will see your brand as stronger, when being exposed with a .brand email or web site. Small weaker brands will not have the opportunity to own a .brand, either for financial reasons, or for trademark reasons.
- Improved security. Phishing problems will not be an issue for .brands, as they have full control of their own top level domain.
- Search engines and browsers. I believe search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others, in the future will do a lookup to see if the single word searched for is a gTLD with a web behind it. With gTLDs, its possible to have a one word web address, like http://yourbrand. So when typing your brand name in the browser, the user will be sent straight to your brands global web site. This feature can be controlled by both web browsers and the search engines.
- Brand protection. ICANN‘s enforced measures to protect brands, will include all new top level domains. Example: A porn company tries to register versace.porn. If Versace is a gTLD.versace, the porn company cannot register the domain versace.porn or versace.anything.
- Short URLs. By deleting .com behind your brand, you have the potential for shorter better-looking URLs for product pages, marketing campaigns etc. Shorter e-mail addresses are also a possibility.
- Is .brand a global trademark? Well, I believe it is. In my limited knowledge about the trademark possibilities of this world, I don’t know anything else that you can do to a brand name that gives you a stronger global trademark. The future is all digital. Your digital content must be connected to your digital brand name. A .brand just makes sense for the future of any strong brand.
There are also the costs to consider if you don’t go for your own .brand. That is, costs related to fighting off competitors who wish to use the same or similar name as your brand name. Spending money on lawyers, and following up with disputes could end up costing you the same.
If you have a strong and valuable brand, then my suggestion is that you hurry up and start the process to make it a .brand