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Tricks of the trade - The actors involved in setting up a custom TLD: the Registry

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11/18/2021

After the Back-End Registry Operator, I invite you to discover or rediscover the actor without which an Internet domain cannot exist: the TLD (Top Level Domain) Registry.

There are various reasons why a brand may wish to have its own customised TLD. It may wish to make it one of the levers of its digital strategy, to build up an asset to secure its digital territory or simply to protect itself by being the sole holder of a TLD with its name.

To back up these reasons, the brand, future TLD registry, will have to set out its project:

  • identify its expert partners, back-end registry operator and registrar, and then negotiate and sign contracts with them;
  • and establish the business plan for the future customised TLD.

For this forward-looking exercise it can call on its partners for advice so as to draw on their experience.

The brand can then apply to ICANN. This application, drawn up in English, must reflect its business plan for its future digital territory, provide reassurance as to its financial ability to sustain its project in the long term, and demonstrate the technical capabilities to be rolled out (through the back-end registry operator) in accordance with ICANN’s requirements. It will have the benefit of the sound support of its partners during this decisive phase.

Once the application has been accepted by ICANN, the brand must sign a contract with this international organisation. ICANN provides its own standard contract, in English. It is a standard membership contract, not subject to negotiation. Back-end registry operators and experienced registrars are familiar with this contract, as are some industrial property consultants, and are therefore in a position to explain the major principles as well as the subtleties.

It is upon signing this Registry Agreement (RA) that the brand officially becomes a TLD Registry.

It will then be able to devote itself to the launch of its custom TLD with the support of its partners. It is obliged to publish its registry policies, the agreement with its registrar (Registry-Registrar Agreement or “RRA”) and a contact point for reporting any abuse.

With the launch of its TLD, the brand will start to familiarise itself with its new role as registry. Being a registry requires a specific in-house organisation. It is important to designate a registry coordinator.

This coordinator is in contact with the partners who manage the technical aspects and day-to-day relations with ICANN on service levels and the application of any new specifications and rules.

The coordinator is also and above all the reference point for the various departments in the business holding the new TLD. The coordinator acts as the guardian of the internal naming rules and the best practices of the .brand and is thus in a position to assist his colleagues with their projects, in keeping with the house digital strategy.

In order for the custom TLD to be a success for the brand, all the departments need to be able to make use of it and therefore to be aware not just of the existence of this powerful lever, but also of its rules of use and its potential.

You now know all, or nearly all, there is to know about the brand TLD registry, without which the project as a whole would not see the light of day. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions in ‘Le Cercle des .marque’ [‘The BrandTLD Club’] to learn more about this role and the numerous advantages it brings to a brand.

Le Cercle des .marque [The BrandTLD Club]

In 2019, Afnic launched ‘Le Cercle des .marque’ [‘The BrandTLD Club’], a forum reserved for brands and their representatives interested in custom TLDs. Inspiring testimonials, sharing of best practices, deciphering the market and the latest trends… a place to discuss the development and control of your digital territory.