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Branding Icann Afilias

Two thirds of top level domain applications expected to come from brands

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By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

January 12, 2012 | 4 min read

With the three month application window to gain a ‘.brand’ website address beginning today, it is expected that while some will apply for suffixes such as .shop or .bank, a majority will be looking to get their brand name as the suffix.

ICANN’s new top level domain (TLD) program aims to encourage greater domain name choice, at $185,000 per word. The first new TLDs are expected to go live on the Internet in 2013.

It is suggested that a .brand suffix allow companies to expand their global footprint, gives companies more control over their brand presence and enhances customer loyalty online.

Roland LaPlante, CMO of global registry services provider Afilias which supports 60% of all new TLD registrations, said: “Today represents a significant milestone for the Internet, with dot Brand domains opening tremendous opportunities for many businesses and sectors. Because businesses who become dot Brand registry operators will have complete control over who gets a name and how they use it, they will be able to more effectively leverage their brand properties online and better secure both the brand and brand transactions.

“While applicants may apply for a dot Brand by themselves, we recommend that interested parties consult an experienced technical domain services provider to help with the application and implementation process. Given the short timetable, it’s best to use a provider that is already an ICANN Designated Registry Operator rather than a company unknown to ICANN. Proven solutions from known providers are more likely to result in successful applications.”

Theo Hnarakis, CEO and Managing Director of digital brands consultancy Melbourne ITDBS, added: “Big brands from around the world have already engaged with Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services to help them apply for more than 100 new TLDs.

“Big name companies in the financial sector, plus the retail and consumer goods industries have shown the most interest in applying so far, and roughly a quarter of the companies we are assisting are members of the Fortune Global 500. Applicants working with Melbourne IT also include members of the U.S. Association of National Advertisers. We expect more brands to follow now the application window has opened and the program’s final application deadline of April 12 looms nearer.

“Those organisations still deliberating whether to apply or not will need to come to a decision swiftly as the application process is complex and takes time and resource. Engaging with a specialist to help develop an application is a must at this late stage.”

Andreas Edler, MD of domain name registrar and hosting company Hostway UK, said: “The introduction of new gTLDs will likely be welcomed by the big global brands that have the money to pay for costly registry rights and marketing power to promote the new address to customers. However, cost is going to be a major barrier for the vast majority of businesses. The cost can be compared to several new members of staff, which is an investment decision many businesses will find tough to make. That, doesn’t mean they should bury their heads in the sand though.

"They should look to do business benefit and risk analysis and then make a decision. By going through this process they’ll become aware of the potential cyber squatting issues. For companies that have invested heavily in establishing their online brand, it is now a question of whether they make protective registrations now or take their chances later, once gTLDs become more prevalent. In the future, we could even see brands reselling these domains as third-level extensions to partners to enhance their brand recognition and recoup costs.”

Branding Icann Afilias

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