A domain name is an identification string for an organisation on the Internet, such as in dotbrandobservatory.com. The top level domain is the part located at the right of the name and the second level domain comes just before the dot. Today there are around 300 million domain names. The most popular TLD is .com, with around 120 million second level domain names.
ICANN, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is the not-for-profit California-based company that administers the domain name system in order to enhance inter-operability and competition.
In early 2012, in order to promote Choice, Competition and Innovation, ICANN opened its doors to allow organizations to apply for new Top Level Domains. In spite of a complex and costly application process, ICANN received a very large number of applications: In total, 1,930 applications were received, of which 675 were brands applying for a closed new gTLD, a dot brand.
Potential future opening, in rounds or in a continuous mode, is presently being discussed by the Internet Community.
The focus of the observatory is on 589 applications that meet our definition of a closed brand registry. In early 2015, dot brands emerged from the ICANN application process as a new tool for the brand marketer and intellectual property protection specialist alike. A dot brand is a closed gTLD that ends with the brand name like .apple or .bmw.
Under the contract with ICANN, registration in a dot brand is limited to a single registrant – i.e. owner of the website. This means that nobody except the brand themselves, can own a “.brand” domain name. It is possible for brands to enable partners to put up some content on those domains.
There is a wide range of reasons why brands applied for their name as a Top Level Domain. Some of the applications are defensive, designed to protect the Intellectual Property or Trademark from abuse. A branded Top Level Domain enables brands to control one more layer of their technical backbone, offering an additional level of security to their customers. And for yet more dot brand was also seen as an opportunity for innovation, and a great asset in an ever more connected world.
A wide variety of brands applied for their name, both from a geographical standpoint and from a vertical standpoint, including manufacturing, financial services, luxury goods, technology companies, services businesses.
Brands such as apple, intel, microsoft, bmw, shriram, citic, tiffany, lamborghini, barclays or bnpparibas have been successfully applying for their domain name.
dot brand opens up a completely new way to think about your online representaton. The present paradigm for webdesign tools and expertise, search and UI is to build up one website on one unique domain, with lots of content and a high google page rank. Other domain names are usually limited to campaigns microsites.
Our observatory looks at how brands are moving in that space and what sort of approach they are taking, from very prudent to proactive.