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Opening of the dot brand application round in 2026: should you launch your customised TLD?

Home > Observatory and resources > Expert papers > Opening of the dot brand application round in 2026: should you launch your customised TLD?

The new round of TLD applications in mid-2026 has been confirmed, leading to much excitement in the digital world. It is now no longer fanciful to envisage a world with more than 2,000 TLDs alongside .fr and .com!

A unique opportunity for your brand to create its own TLD and thus its own digital space, reflecting its image and its values. So it’s a good time to think seriously about whether it would make sense to submit an application.

It’s an opportunity that only comes round once every ten or fifteen years. ICANN is the world internet regulator, and it is ICANN that decides on the allocation of new digital spaces. This organisation operates on a unique model, comprising a wide community open to all and in which all can express themselves. The opening of an application round of this type therefore inevitably involves a certain time frame in its preparation and is aimed at a rather specialist audience able to understand the stakes involved, which largely explains its somewhat exclusive nature.

The next round has been confirmed for mid-2026 and will be the second such major exercise, the first having taken place in 2012 which led to the creation of a new market segment, with 580 brands currently having their own dedicated TLD. While they are all pioneers, some brands more than others have made a success of their TLD and derive definite benefits from it.

The criteria for seriously considering a lasting and high added value dot brand project

Number of Internet addresses

Your portfolio of domain names is an important indicator of the potential of your future dot brand domain. This volume can range from say ten names to several thousand names depending on the size of a business and its activity. Nonetheless, an organisation that manages a minimum of 100 domain names presents characteristics that should steer it towards putting in place an organisation dedicated to managing its domain names: a point of contact, market watch, internal management policy, etc.

In this regard, a dot brand TLD facilitates the management of your domain names activity by giving you more control over it:

  • when registering new domain names, with the possibility of registering high-value names such as short names or generic names;
  • when deleting existing names. Brands are increasingly subject to cybersquatting after deleting one or more names from their portfolio, which means they sometimes find themselves putting long and costly strategies in place to protect against these kinds of threats. With a dot brand TLD, you can delete a name with no risk of cybersquatting or typosquatting, since you alone can register names under your TLD.
  • for the surveillance of the use of your brand, since the detection of fraudulent addresses not under the official TLD of your brand is made easier.

Online turnover

If a substantial part of your organisation’s revenues comes from online sales, it makes sense to consider filing your dot brand TLD. This criterion may be supplemented by leads from your online presence such as your social networks or search engines, whether natural or with paid-for optimisation.

A dedicated TLD has the potential to become a brand’s most important digital asset as it makes it more logical and more ethical to invest in your digital territory, which will in turn reinforce your brand’s value and image.

By way of example, numerous television channels the world over use the .tv TLD, without realising that this domain belongs to Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands. The registration rules are defined by the government representing the nine islands and may change at any time, the more so as this territory is unfortunately threatened by climate change. Against this backdrop, ensuring the stability of your investments in your digital space is the better option.

Number of online services

Does your brand offer online content directed at its customers, suppliers or employees? By offering online services such as access to a customer space, management of orders, sale of products or innovative services, you can turn your website into a high added-value channel.

An address under a brand domain guarantees exclusive ownership of the content and, by instilling trust in your users, improves the take-up rate of the services offered by the brand.

This point is all the more relevant if your brand offers services requiring very high levels of security and confidentiality, such as financial transactions for online purchases, access to bank accounts, supplier management or the collection of sensitive and/or critical data such as those on health.

Management of certified content

In a context in which perpetrators of phishing attacks are helped by increasingly high-performance AI-based text and visual editors, brands must react and innovate to protect their assets and their image. Some major global brands have already revised the design of their products, adding subtle details that constitute unforgeable proof and shorten the lives of their product collections so as not to give the counterfeiters time to act. Numerous innovative online image protection and certification services are successfully used by brands in sectors such as household goods, interior decoration, luggage, luxury, cosmetics and electronics.

A brand TLD guarantees that the content posted online under your addresses is 100% official and therefore authentic.

Number of distributors

Making best use of your distribution network and making it visible to your customers is a matter of prime importance when it comes to your business model. The variety of distribution models – independent agents, tied agents, dealers, resellers, affiliates, franchisees, etc. – requires a set of common practices to be laid down by the brand.

Many brands still rely on an entirely physical distribution model through a network of independent resellers; in many cases, the services they offer do not have uniform content, having to be accessed through several different TLDs and therefore lacking any real consistency.

The brand domain is a tool that allows you to respond to the challenge of standardisation of the content and tools used by your network. It enables you to take back control of your distributors, emphasising their status and officially endorsing their practices and the contents of your brand that they share with their customers.

Competition in your market

The sectors most represented in the last round of applications for customised TLDs were banking and insurance, retail distribution, automotive, manufacturing and new technologies. Many brands have by now reached maturity as regards the operation of their TLDs, from which they derive benefits that give them considerable competitive advantages. If your organisation is in one of the sectors referred to above, a feasibility study may be the best option. If not, you can position yourself as an innovative actor and get a head start over your rivals.

Whatever the challenges encountered by your organisation, if you identify with any of the above criteria, we recommend that you conduct a detailed study on whether to apply for a TLD. Have feedback for us or want to speak to our experts? Our teams are here to answer your questions.

Next opening: key dates on the provisional schedule

  • July 2023: ICANN (the world Internet address regulator) announces the opening of the next application round in April 2026
  • 2024: The general policies of the application programme are gradually published and comments invited
  • 2025: Publication of an applicants’ guide, to be validated by year-end at the latest
  • Mid-2026: The gates open, candidates flock in!