Branded Domain Name Extensions Are Coming: Should You Apply For One?

A few months ago, we shared some tips for choosing the right domain name for your ecommerce site.  At that time, ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names And Numbers) was in the process of working on a significant change to domain names as we know them.

Yesterday, we reported that ICANN has recently approved new domain name endings, known as GTLDs or generic top-level domains, which will provide companies and individuals with many more domain name options. With these changes set to take effect beginning in January of 2012, many people will probably be wondering whether or not a branded domain name is right for them. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to apply for a branded domain name extension.

How Strong Is Your Brand?

Is your brand immediately recognizable? The most significant change that ICANN announced yesterday is that companies and individuals will be able to apply for branded domain name extensions. Instead of a company name followed by a .com or other extension, some domain names will soon contain branded extensions made up of either generic terms such as .coffee or .hotel, or specific, branded, and/or trademarked terms such as .pepsi or .(your brand name here).

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For businesses with a strong brand presence, a branded extension is the perfect opportunity to apply for and utilize an extension that perfectly describes who their business is and what they do. Smaller businesses and/or businesses with less recognizable brands may want to think twice before shelling out the $185,000 application fee, and the $25,000 yearly fee for a trademarked domain name registrar,  but may be interested in paying for a generic extension that relates to their business or brand.

How Long Is Your Business/Brand Name?

When it comes to name length, it is best to keep your domain name as short as possible, whether you are using the name of your business, or a term related to your brand and services. This isn’t always possible, but longer names are less likely to benefit from a branded extension. Longer domain names are difficult to remember, and cumbersome to type out, which is why most experts recommend staying away from them in the first place.

Can Someone Else Use My Business Or Product Name As A Domain Name Extension Without My Permission?

Of course, we all know that the Internet is full of people who will take advantage of any opportunity to make money off of others. Luckily, according to ICANN, there is already a system in place to deal with anyone who attempts to register a legally trademarked domain name extension.  If you’re the owner of the Burger King trademark, in other words, you shouldn’t have to worry about people registering their domain names with a .burgerking, .bk, .whopper, or other branded extension containing a trademark that you have the rights to.

Ecommerce Arrows

In the coming months, there will likely be many more updates and announcements from ICANN about the many issues and questions surrounding the new GTLDs.  Will you be purchasing a new domain name extension, either a branded one or one containing a generic brand-related term once they become available? If so, let us know.