If you’re rethinking your .brand top level domain strategy, here are some things to think about.
A relatively small number of .brand new TLD applicants have abandoned the process so far. Some of them are big, such as GM, which withdrew all of its applications. Others have only dropped one or two of their applications.
As a .brand applicant yourself, you may be reconsidering your new TLD plans. If you withdraw your application before it passes initial evaluation, you’ll get most of your application fee back. So time is of the essence.
What should you do? Who can you turn to for guidance?
First things first: the consultant that has helped you with your application is obviously biased. Don’t listen to them.
.Brand might be a great thing for your company. Or it might not. Since it depends on your specific situation, let me give a handful of reasons you might want to pull the plug.
1. You’re having trouble articulating how you’ll actually use the domain name.
What will you actually do with your .brand?
As your .brand gets closer to reality, your executives are probably asking you for an implementation plan. An implementation plan is a lot harder to deliver than some pie-in-the-sky “this will change the internet!” talk.
Surely you’re not going to just flip the switch from your .com to your .brand.
So what exactly will you do? Start running some promotions on it? Migrate your entire company’s email to something.brand?
The details get rather hairy. Do you plan to alias every second level .brand domain to an equivalent third level domain on your existing .com? How will you education everyone that your email addresses are now email@example.com? Will you have to forward firstname.lastname@example.org for a few years?
Maybe you have a plan, and that’s great. But I suspect the implementation is a lot more work than you originally imagined.
2. They cost a lot – for your particular department.
It’s true that the $185,000 application fee and associated costs are peanuts to a big company.
But I’ve worked at a big company (in an intellectual property department, no less) and I understand how this works.
Your company earns billions, but your department gets squeezed.
If the new TLD application costs come out of marketing’s top line budget, that’s no big deal.
If it’s being allocated to some small IT department, or even the IP department, it may be a burden. It may be an employee or two you can’t hire.
3. If .brand TLDs are successful, you know there will be another round.
No one knows if .brand TLDs will be successful. If they truly give companies a competitive advantage, you can rest assured that ICANN will hold a second round. It will also be a lot cheaper, as ICANN has been embarrassed by how much money it brought in compared to how much the new TLD program cost.
4. Some of the big companies you assumed would apply didn’t.
You probably told your bosses that all of the big, popular internet companies would apply for new TLDs. Yet two of the biggest, Twitter and Facebook, didn’t.
Others that got just one or two domains, such as Apple, likely did it for defensive purposes.
So that “everyone else is doing it” argument is coming back to haunt you.
5. The headaches never end.
How much more will ICANN ask of you in order to get your TLD delegated? Have you found yourself surprisingly caught up in GAC advice? Is this process taking more time and costing more money than you expected? Are you having to disclose more confidential information than you thought would be required?
6. You didn’t really have to worry about defensive registrations after all.
Thanks in part to fear mongering by the Association of National Advertisers, you may have been worried that some cybersquatter would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to snag your well-protected brand as a top level domains.
While it was a crazy argument to begin with, now that you’ve seen the list of applied-for top level domains, it’s clear this wasn’t something for you to worry about.
7. The ICANN process was not designed for .brands.
There are a lot of rules in the applicant guidebook that had to be shoe-horned for .brand applications. .Brands were an afterthought. As I mentioned previously, if .brand TLDs are successful then we’ll have another round. You can bet it will be redesigned to be more conducive to .brand applications.