When is the next round of new gTLDs coming? That’s been the subject of speculation for the past several months, and it seems like things are beginning to come together. ICANN published a report announcing an “application window” for future gTLDs opening the end of 2022. That’s ideal timing for you to reinforce your digital strategy by launching a domain name ending for your brand with a .brand.
What can we expect from this future nTLD program?
This new, generic top-level domain program (new gTLDs) will be the second, following the first in 2012, which attracted 1,900 applications. For this second round, the application procedure proposed by the ICANN working group in charge of new gTLDs is largely similar to the first, which, you can imagine, probably means a comparable result in terms of the number of new domain endings that will come into the market, and an even larger budget for businesses looking to protect their trademarks. But also, with a market that’s becoming increasingly aware of new domain endings, the number of .brand domains could also be especially interesting.
Future generic TLDs
This new program will multiply the number of available terms and as a consequence, present new opportunities. It could allow businesses to more precisely target their market through the registration of domain names whose TLD is dedicated to their business industry (.tech, .sport, .app).
So of course, out of all the new domain endings, some of them will be minor, but others will most likely become fixtures of tomorrow’s internet landscape. And once again, the TMCH protection mechanism will allow registered brands to access a preferential registration period in order to protect themselves from the “first come, first served” rule that governs the General Availability phase once the domain goes live.
The real issue will be the creation of a .brand. In the first round, .brands surprised everyone by accounting for more than half of all TLDs applied for or 645 brand name domain endings.
A few particular succss stories stand out from among these .brands, especially:
- Canon: the use of .canon to extend the customer experience. The site https://image.canon is like a cloud storage service: directly linked to the user’s camera, the photos they take are automatically stored and available from any device.
- BNP Paribas: the use of .bnpparibas to personalize the customer experience by creating websites that differ according to different uses of their product (e.g. https://mabanque.bnpparibas/ French for “my bank” for the general public and https://entreprises.bnpparibas/ French for “businesses” for corporate customers).
- KPMG: the use of .kpmg across 150 countries in order to share a common identity (e.g.: U.S. site: https://home.kpmg/us/en/home.html, French site: https://home.kpmg/fr/fr/home.html, Japanese site: https://home.kpmg/jp/ja/home.html).
On the other hand, out of the 645 .brands delegated, only 388 are currently used today, and more than 75% of all .brands have less than 20 domain names registered on them. This limited use can be explained by a few different factors:
- Underestimating the level of involvement necessary to carry out this type of wide-ranging project
To be able to carry out a .brand project well, it needs to be considered as a truly business-wide project and supported by the company’s executives. Beyond the substantial costs linked to the attribution and use of a .brand ($185,000 for attribution and $20,000 a year to use it), this project requires large amounts of human and budgetary resources throughout the company.
For example, the Marketing, IT, and Legal departments would be especially needed:
- The Marketing department to implement an SEO migration strategy, update communication tools, or even publish awareness campaigns
- The IT department to ensure collaboration with third parties in charge of the domain back end but also its practical deployment, especially for changing all the employees’ email mailboxes.
- The Legal department to fulfill the procedures and administrative duties related to your .brand
These issues need to be identified and integrated into a road map and approved and followed up on by executives. Otherwise, the project will have a strong chance of failure.
- Underestimating the potential of the .brand in terms of digital strategy
With the still limited use of .brands due to how recently they’ve appeared in the market, the challenges discussed above may obscure the tremendous potential of a .brand. Some applications were submitted following a strictly defensive strategy rather than a well-defined one: they were submitted in case the competition decided to make the wager of getting a .brand. These applications were all quickly abandoned once the excitment proved not to have lasted in certain sectors.
That’s why it’s essential to make this project a truly unifying, business-wide project, in order to benefit in the long term. Especially since this second round will benefit from feedback from the first and as a result, the market will no doubt have murtured with regards to the value of a .brand — an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed, all the more since there’s no clear timeline for a third round.
New opportunities in terms of brand strategy
So, you’ll understand, this new round of TLD applications will offer new opportunities in terms of brand strategy. The year 2020, if anything, demonstrated the necessity for businesses to anchor their businesses online. As a basis for customer relations, the identity and values of your brand should be reflected in the digital realm. A .brand embodies the digital experience of a brand, it’s seen as a new signature, your proprietary territory online.
Applications for a .brand will open to all businesses that have one more brands and are able to substantiate their claims on the requested brand name.
Why have a .brand?
Beyond marking yourself as a digital pioneer, a .brand lets you strengthen your digital strategy for the long term by placing customer experience at the heart of your activity. It promises:
- Greater homogeneity: you own your own domain ending, and as a result only you can use it. This is an opportunity to homogenize and maintain control over your brand’s image across your network of partners (resellers, agents, franchises, etc.) and customers. A .brand is also valuable for releasing a new product or service: you’re free to register a new domain name without having to worry about its availability or the costs associated with buying it
- Greater proximity and authenticity: the right channel for the right target. A .brand offers you the most flexibility in terms of naming. As such, you can build an identity for each of your products or services, or for each of your target markets in order to put customer experience at the center of your digital strategy
- Enhanced security: for your users and greater trust from your customers and partners who know exactly how to identify you online thanks to your .brand. That way, security threats like phishing have a reduced impact.
The challenge of a .brand, then, can be summed up as: taking control of a highly visible communication channel by building your online identity at the internet’s very root.
The end of 2022 may seem a long way off, but making a .brand a truly sustainable and fruitful company-wide project takes time. The different challenges for implementing this tripartite collaboration (between an internal, technical backend, a registrar, and ICANN) should be anchored in a global strategy. It’s with this perspective that Gandi’s Corporate Services team is offering to assist you with all the steps involved in implementing your .brand, including:
- Reflecting on your brand strategy
- Guiding you in building your application file
- Help with selecting a techincal backend provider with registry operaters that guarantee the technical management and TLD infrastructure (including AFNIC).
To learn more about .brands, feel free to contact your account representative or email us at email@example.com.
Also, keep watching this spot — we’ll be bringing you more content and communications to help you implement your .brand.