Most of my professional life has been spent working with companies and organizations that are protecting, expanding or reinventing their brand identities in the digital world. Although I now work in-house at Thismoment, the first part of my legal career was spent at law firms helping brands navigate the opportunities as well as the pitfalls in cyberspace.
One of the most significant internet revolutions for brands is underway: the expansion of gTLDs. Ageneric top-level domain (gTLD) is the part of the URL that comes after the last “dot” – for example, .com and .org.
Your legal department may already be in the loop on the issue, but is your marketing team prepared for the impending changes?
The gTLD Overview
Last year and for the first time, theInternet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) accepted applications for new gTLDs. With a few restrictions, anyone was allowed to apply for almost anything to the right of the dot,including their own brand name or a generic term
. For example, Google applied for over 101 gTLDs, including .android, .blog, .YouTube and .lol. That means you may one day visit Sony Pictures’ YouTube brand channel at Sonypictures.youtube instead ofyoutube.com/SonyPictures
or visit Cat Maru
(my personal favorite) at mugumogu.youtube.
The application window for gTLDs is now closed, and ICANN is sorting, evaluating, and determining which gTLDs of thealmost 2,000 applications will be granted. ICANN is currently predicting that we could start seeing new gTLD implementations as early asNovember 2013.
A gTLD is a unique opportunity for a brand to own real estate beyond its own .com. A gTLD may be used to as a marketing strategy to unify a brand and concretize communications, create a halo effect around your brand’s early adoption of cutting-edge technology, or even increase security by properly educating your consumers to always look for you “to the right of the dot.”
But even if your company did not apply for a gTLD, there is still unprecedented opportunity for brands to capitalize on this revolution. Secondary domains are additional distribution points that can be used to engage and communicate with your consumers. The availability of secondary domains will depend on whether the gTLD owner makes its registry open (which I will discuss in Part II next week).
Protecting Your Brand
With the possibility for anyone to purchase a second-level domain during the flood of newly released gTLDs, how can you protect your brand and your trademark? Stay tuned for Part II next week!