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Why you should start thinking about a custom TLD

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09/16/2021

In 2012, ICANN, the international Internet address regulator, opened an application round for brands to acquire their own “suffix” (TLDs). Applicants had six months in which to file their requests, which may have been seen by many organisations as a tight deadline which dissuaded them from taking the plunge.

Concerning a new application round, to date, ICANN has still not made anything official! Businesses still have a few months in which to take their decision.

Whether or not you decide to apply, it is never easy to take hurried decisions that might prove strategic for your organisation, so start thinking ahead!

An uncertain schedule, but a narrow window once the official dates are announced

ICANN’s multi-stakeholder operation has certain effects that it is necessary to take into account: the fact that all participants are free to express opinions on how the Internet address system should evolve makes decision-making a long drawn-out process (several years). On the other hand, once a decision has been taken, the implementation time is inversely proportionate and therefore generally very short (a few months). With the last round, that of 2012, the time between the official ICANN announcement and the deadline for filing applications was six months.

Several brand representatives complained at the time that this deadline had not allowed them to take the right decision for the following reasons:

  • the time allowed was not enough to agree with all internal stakeholders, and the management had therefore decided not to proceed;
  • companies had decided to file an application in order to protect against future risks without a plan on how to use it being collectively agreed.

So look at the time available until ICANN’s official announcement as an opportunity to be seized – an opportunity to obtain approval internally to take the plunge within your business.

Solid applications for high added-value projects are prepared upstream

We are convinced that looking ahead can change how of constraints associated with this type of project are viewed: on the one hand, because ICANN favours solid applications with well thought-out projects, and on the other hand, because it allows you to exploit the full potential of the custom TLD so that it becomes the common denominator of your future digital territory. This decision requires time and ideally the support of the stakeholders in the business.

If we had to give you just three pieces of advice on how to put together a solid project, they would be as follows:

  • Think long term

Assess your future needs to underpin the deployment of your digital strategy in the long term. There are a number of questions that may guide reflections: is the use made of our addresses consistent with our group, our brands, our subsidiaries and our distributors, etc.? Is it in line with our brand strategy? Does it allow us to see our projects through successfully? Do we have the necessary knowledge and mastery of the subject? What are our various projects for innovation, services and the associated needs? (digital practices, logistics challenges, etc.)

  • Act as a team

It is good practice to bring together the representatives of the divisions that will be concerned, upstream of the project. The digital/marketing, technical (IT, network, security) and legal divisions are those most often involved in the regular use of domain names. It is important to sound out their practices and needs in order to define the various options available. Depending on the size of your organisation/group, brand/subsidiary representatives may also be included in the study. A collective decision, understood by all and for which you will have the endorsement of your management is the best assurance of a project’s success.

  • Seek advice from a third party

Asking an external consultancy to accompany you in conducting a study on the appropriateness of registering your .brand TLD will allow you to:

  • assess your internal needs;
  • identify the stakeholders involved in the project, their responsibilities and their roles;
  • gain an insight into the regulatory aspects;
  • measure the risks of multiple applications in certain cases and the best strategy of approach (competition with short names, geographic names or generic names);
  • and define the rules associated with your future TLD and their implementation with regard to your objectives.

Contact us to find out more and join our Cercle des .marque (The BrandTLD Club) initiative, the only working group in France dedicated to exchanges on custom brand TLDs.