In 2012, more than 1,000 applications were filed for new Internet TLDs, nearly a third of which were for brand domains (.leclerc, .mma, .total, .bnpparibas, etc.).
Originally thought of as a defence mechanism against the proliferation of new TLDs, brand TLDs have turned this opportunity into a trump card that fits perfectly with their more general strategy of protecting and promoting their brand online.
The specific nature of brand TLDs
In December 2013, ICANN specified the definition of a brand TLD, thus removing any ambiguity as to its nature. A brand TLD is a TLD corresponding to a brand validly protected by the laws in force in each country. The category therefore exclusively covers registered brands.
It is from this specific status that the particular characteristics of the brand domains derive. Among these, for example, is the fact that they are automatically exempted from what ICANN calls the “code of conduct” for new TLDs. This exemption allows the holder of a brand TLD to be the only one able to register domain names under its own TLD.
This is clearly an exclusivity: the manager of a brand TLD establishes its own rules for its TLD and can choose to close registration of domain names to the public entirely. Thus protected, the TLD becomes a ‘closed registry’. This new category of TLD is entirely different from the ‘open’ TLDs such as the generics (.com, .info, .xyz, etc.).
With a brand TLD, there is no risk of cyber/typo squatting, usurpation, phishing or spamming. A host of abusive practices linked to domain name registration disappears as a result of the application of one simple rule: there is only one holder of the domain name, the registry of the brand TLD itself!
A key role in mastering the brand defence strategy
While the entry cost may seem high at first sight, the advantages of creating a brand TLD for a large group will rapidly prove to constitute an indispensable contribution to the brand defence strategy.
In view of the proliferation of new TLDs, a company without its own TLD may see the cost of maintaining surveillance of its portfolio of brands explode without being able to cap it: on which TLDs should it concentrate its efforts? And how can it be sure to detect abuse effectively to protect its brand image over so many TLDs?
Added to this is the difficulty of identifying holders of domain names since, with the coming into force of the GDPR, not all the particulars of the holders are accessible in the WHOIS of new TLDs.
So by creating your own brand domain, you establish your own rules for a dedicated, reserved space. Brand surveillance is thereby simplified. In other words, you take control of your domain name management policy and consequently of your online brand defence strategy.
Increased security against all kinds of online abuse
Holding your own TLD also provides an additional layer of protection for brands that are the target of malicious behaviour. A brand TLD unambiguously identifies the origin of the contents that it broadcasts and this strengthens the credibility and authenticity of the brand in clients’ minds.
The new TLD is then associated with a ‘clean’ environment, without risk to consumers. Audiences need to be educated so that they are aware of and understand this advantage: the brand TLD is their guarantee of being in contact exclusively with the brand, safely on its digital territory.
All these qualities make the brand TLD a serious track to explore for major groups. Brands now have a space on the Internet reserved exclusively for them, guaranteeing their customers increased security. And each of these points is a differentiating argument in a highly competitive context.