FairWinds Partners — August 11, 2011
Right now, approximately five months before ICANN opens the new gTLD application period, many brands are still grappling over the question of whether or not to apply for their core brands as gTLDs, in the way Canon has indicated it will apply for .CANON. For certain brands, this will not be possible or advisable for a number of reasons. Take Edible Arrangements for example. ICANN will not permit two-character gTLD extensions, so abbreviating “Edible Arrangements” to .EA is out of the question. But the idea of applying for .EDIBLEARRANGEMENTS as a gTLD, and advertising domains like Birthdays.EdibleArrangements, doesn’t seem like an attractive option. So what’s a company in this position to do?
One option would, of course, be to simply not play the gTLD game. But what if its major competitors are all planning to apply for branded gTLDs? Edible Arrangements has another option: an aspirational gTLD. Edible Arrangements prides itself on providing fresh fruit bouquets “to make any occasion special”. So what if the company decided to apply for .OCCASION?
Aspirational gTLDs have the potential to help brands connect with both existing customers, and even a whole new audience that they may not have been able to reach previously. Other examples of aspirational gTLDs could be a toy company (e.g. Toys ”R” Us) applying for .FUN or a kitchenware company (e.g. KitchenAid) applying for .COOKING. De Beers could opt to apply for .FOREVER instead of .DEBEERS or .DIAMONDS and build a new digital space around the “Diamonds are Forever” idea. And contrary to popular belief, brands who apply for an aspirational term like the ones mentioned here will not be required to operate them as open registries – ICANN makes no stipulation that generic term gTLDs must be open to public registration.
Aspirational gTLDs are a great option for companies that can’t or don’t want to pursue a .BRAND; ones that want additional ways to connect with an audience beyond .BRAND and opt to apply for both; or ones that simply are looking for a unique way to use this new addressing system. Of course, there is a higher likelihood that an outside party will raise an objection to an aspirational gTLD application; for example, if a pharmaceutical company were to apply for .CURE, it is possible that research institutes, governments or non-profits could raise objections. However, with the proper preparation, brand owners can devise a plan to successfully navigate the objection process and come out victorious, able to deliver a fresh impression to consumers.