.Brand domain names are on their way, but how they’re used is still an open question.
One of the specific uses of new top level domain names that has always confused me is the .brand domain name, such as .nike.
I’ve often asked how someone would actually visit .nike and received very loose answers.
So when I saw that CentralNic launched a new service called DotBrand Solutions, I jumped on the opportunity to talk to CEO Ben Crawford.
So just how will people visit .nike?
Crawford says that, at least at first, you can expect to visit brand TLDs via a second level domain such as shoes.nike.
Even if you could type .nike into your browser, “That’s not intuitive,” Crawford says. “It’s useful to have something that computes to how people are used to using the internet.”
You’ll probably find that emailing someone with a .brand domain will look something like this: email@example.com
At least at first, don’t expect email clients to understand name@.brand, even if it’s technically possible.
“The real benefit isn’t eliminating the second level domain, it’s owning the entire inventory of the second level domains and being able to do whatever you want with it,” Crawford explains.
Crawford says that brands that are looking to get a .brand already have a lot of existing domain names. They won’t flip the switch overnight.
“They’re going to have a long and sensible and careful migration period,” he says.
But won’t people still try to email firstname.lastname@example.org by habit?
“When you’re talking about big brands with big budgets, they’re not just going to rush into it and close one web site tomorrow,” says Crawford. “They’re going to take it slow and see the ways to make the most out of this opportunity.”
Other than owning the entire inventory of second level domain names, Crawford says businesses can improve their security with their own top level domain name. They can tell their customers that if they see their brand to the right of the dot, it’s the authentic web site.
Crawford uses plenty of margin for error when predicting how many .brands will be applied for.
“Hundreds,” he says.
The cost of getting a .brand will vary widely. Some companies may get their .brand and just forward it to their existing web site for a few years until they decide how they want to use it. In that case it will probably cost them a few hundred thousand dollars for the first year including ICANN fees.
Given the relatively low cost to a Fortune 500, I think Crawford is right. I think hundreds of companies will apply for .brand TLDs. Most won’t have any idea what they want to do with it yet, but they’ll still want to secure it.