I Don’t Understand Brand gTLDs

I am personally not opposed to new gTLD domain extensions at all. In fact, I am more in favor of them than anything, and like any free enterprise, I encourage entrepreneurial companies to try and make money with them. My bet is there will be some great successes and some pretty big failures.

One thing I can’t seem to understand is why a company like IBM, Canon, or any other well known brands for that matter would choose to spend close to $200,000 on a gTLD application and then whatever the ongoing annual cost is for  maintenance. I especially don’t understand it when a brand like Canon doesn’t really have other companies that share the same name and may cause confusion.

From my perspective, a brand .com domain name works just fine. For instance, consumers can easily type-in Canon.com or find it by searching “canon” in Google. The company can use subdomain names or folders for internal pages. For instance, a company like Marriott, with its various locations around the world, might use subdomain names or folders to give each property an individual “website” within the corporate umbrella.

Again in my perspective, Canon.com sounds much better than Canon.canon or Home.canon or anything else that Canon would choose to use for its home page. Of course, they control the entire extension so it can really be whatever they want, but from a marketing perspective, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense and may cause confusion.

I do really like the idea of geographic gTLD domain names for large cities. I would think .nyc and will gain some serious traction here in the city, especially if the city government uses the extension for some of its departments. Further, I think generic names like hotels.nyc or restaurants.nyc will be great names to own, and I imagine the registry will be able to build a solid business selling .nyc domain names locally.

That being said, I don’t understand why an established brand, especially those which don’t have other large corporations with the same name, would want to spend so much money applying for and maintaining a gTLD. Can anyone offer some insight?

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. “home.nike”, “x.nike”, etc. all awkward. The truth is that large corporations DO NOT take large risks, regardless of what some “predict” (these predictions seem to be coming from the mouths of those offering gTLD advising services)

    No matter how many large corporations end up coughing up the cash and ACTUALLY DECIDE TO USE the gTLD’s (most won’t, IMO), the vast majority of businesses, small medium and large, will still use .COM.

    Many companies have the same name- who gets it ? .COM still used

    $185k +, 3 years until they are operations (based on getting to this point, we know this is understated).
    Most businesses are NOT large corporations, small and midsize businesses run the economy and greatly outnumber the small # of large corps that MAY take this route- thus .COM still used

  2. About .nyc. Depends how much money is put behind it to get it known. You’d think .la would do real well in Los Angeles but we just don’t hear about it.

  3. Clearly, it’s all about the money that clueless and/or fearful companies will shell out for domains they don’t need.

    When I heard about this on the TV, I was sure the reporter got it wrong and it was not just $185k for a single domain, but the right to own the entire gTLD and sell domains. But now I am not so sure with what I have been reading.

    Can anyone clarify if this is like someone applying to administer a TLD like .Puppy?

  4. Why pay $200,000 + upkeep for your brand’s very own registry?

    Control would be the first advantage, I’d imagine. I’d think that it would be a whole lot more difficult (if not impossible) to play cybersquatter with a brand registry. Maybe the companies are betting on the popularization of the format of this dot- option–and for the price, maybe they see it as an acceptable risk.

    If a brand’s other major marketing option is to pay $1-5 million securing a single catchy generic dot-com relating to their offerings–would it be such a leap for that same brand to pay $500,000-$700,000 giving a go at running their own brand registry for a couple years (offering them infinite names and control over their top-level space)?

    For big brands, a starting price tag of $200K is peanuts. If these brands are willing to spend five to 10 times that securing a *single* domain property–why not spend less and get a more dynamic space?

    It won’t be useful to every brand, to be sure, but I can see how the big brands (particularly tech) would see some advantages in web-property structure and in-house control.

  5. While I agree that most will just join the extension junkyard, I can see how select companies such as Apple could use a .Brand as a strategic branding, marketing and customer loyalty/retention tool. YourName.Apple, think about how many people they employ worldwide, than add customers, than multiply that times the amount of e-mails these associates and customers send out weekly, monthly, yearly all with the company .Brand extension attached. That is an incredible P2P, brand saturation and free (in a manner) advertising for your product.

  6. The short answer is: because Companies large or small take pride in their own name.

    Have you noticed the huge sums of money that big corporations spend to display their name on signs especially the ones that are in front of their headquarters, some of those signs might cost well over a million dollars, and have you ever walked inside the boardrooms of some of these Companies, it seems like money is no object when it comes to the furnishings and decor. This is all because Companies take pride in their own name. Up to now they had to brand themselves under .com because they had no other choice, but now that they have the ability to use their own name I doubt that any major Company is going to stay with .com , off course there is the existing mindshare around .com , but the brand TLDs have automatic mindshare already built into them from day one which is as powerful as far as the customers are concerned. So its not like a major Company has to spend millions of dollars to make their brand TLD famous, because for most of the fortune 500 Companies their brand TLD is already famous before it is even put in to operation.

    The same goes for City TLDs since most Cities also take pride in their own name and would much rather have their City Name TLD if they could afford it which they should be able to in the near future because once ICANN has recouped their initial cost (which is around 40 million) then the application fee might be dropped down to 5 to 10k from the 185k that it is currently.

    There is also the generic keyword TLDs such as .Insurance or .RealEstate which are obviously going to be very popular amongst those who want to dominate those markets. Companies are going to go after these types of TLDs because they know that if they manage to get their hands on the generic keyword TLD that represents their Industry then they will be able to have a complete monopoly in their own market especially if they are allowed to keep those TLDs closed to public registration and can sent all the traffic to their own website by wild carding every possible domain combination in those TLDs.

    In my opinion the brand TLDs (company names such as .Google) and City TLDs (such as .NYC) are more clear cut as to whom should own them, but the generic keyword TLDs should be treated more like a public recourse and should not belong to any one entity, these should be managed by a nonprofit organization on behalf of all the people for the benefit of the whole global Internet community.

  7. .LA, .Travel, .TV, .Jobs, etc

    They’ve existed for years and haven’t caught on. I don’t see how .NYC or .RealEstate would be any different.

  8. When did Burbank get swallowed up by Los Angeles? That name wouldn’t make sense to me since Burbank is near LA but isn’t a part of the city of Los Angeles.

    I don’t necessarily like geo domain gtlds (like upperwestside.nyc) but I do think keyword gtlds will be good, like restaurants.nyc and also businesses like tenzan.nyc.

    BTW, I don’t think .com owners will need gTLDs, which is why I didn’t try to buy Burbank.CO or Lowell.CO. I do think there may be development opportunities there, although that will all hinge on consumer adoption.

  9. The only sense in it, is for a company to be abe to use cameras.canon – copiers.canon – printers.canon or queens.canon – bronx.canon etc

    Beyond that, I can’t see any benefit. But the question mirrors a similar one: why didn’t big brands gobble up all their relevent generic product domains back in the day?

  10. ha!

    Burbank is definitely part of the LA DMA, but if you’re getting technical, maybe burbank.sanfernandovalley makes more sense.

    agree with you overall though.

  11. But is it “.NYC” ? What about “.NewYork” ? What about “.NewYorkCity”? What about “.(RandomCityinNewYork)” ? What about “.Bronx” ? What about “.Hamptons” ? But wait, what about “.LongIsland” ? Or actually, it can also be “.LI” … which is more authoritative ?

    What about “.NuevaYork” ?

    But is it “.Cars” ?
    … What about “.Vehicles” ?
    … What about “.Automobiles” ?
    … What about .”ElectricVehicles”?
    … What about “.Coches” ? (Spanish)
    … what about “.Voiture” (French)
    … what about “.Auto” (german) ?

    Which will be better? More credible/authoritative ?

    You can do this all day with tens of millions of words in all different languages, abbreviations, etc. But at the end of the day it all goes back to .COM. Buy the hype at your own peril.

  12. @ M

    Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I believe ICANN will make the decision when it comes to these gTLDs and will only allow one to operate in a particular vertical. For instance, I do not believe there will be a .jewelers and .jeweler approved even if there are applicants for both.

  13. Elliot that is correct if .jewelers get approved then .jeweler can no longer be registered.

    Why .LA (ccTLD btw) not succeed ? My guess wouldbe that for starters the city of LA didn’t push it.

    A TLD will only be a succes when the registry is pushing it and get’s adopted. This is one of the reasons that ccTLD’s that are serious prosper with their country extension. But if you have a registry that does not push it and does not work on it then it will fail that simple. I predict that with the new gTLD’s that current ccTLD and gTLD operators will go full force into battle to fend the new comers off and strengthen their positions and try to grow.

    .CO made a very smart move to let in Registrars who where willing (they had to commit to it also) that they would push .CO in great lengths. And behold what happend.

    Many new gTLD’s will fail , some like NYC could prosper.

  14. It’s going to pan out the way ICANN makes the most money for it’s stakeholders, employees, board members, consultants etc

    The introduction is going to use the “creep” in method

    Eventually it will be like .com registrations, $10 and open slate, but to get there profit maximisation is achieved by regulations and restrictions

    Come back to this msg in 10 years!

  15. Is it just ignorance or an agenda here ? People raving about gTLD’s don’t seem to realize how entrenched .COM is. There are literally tens of thousands of large companies who use .COM as their brand to demonstrate that they offer online goods and services. Commercial in nature.


    Watch any TV commercial and see .COM – it actually conveys information to viewers and says we are a “COMMERCIAL” entity.

    These huge companies are not just “FreeCreditReport” or “Amazon” or “Apartments”. The .COM is vital to their brand.

    Yes, .COM literally means “commercial” and has come to convey the online nature of the goods and/or services provided.

  16. @ M

    Things tend to change over time. I don’t think anyone can say with certainty that they know how consumers/brands will behave when it comes to domain names in 2, 5, or 10 years. I don’t know what kind of hidden agenda anyone posting on my blog would have at this point.

  17. When it comes to names like .apple it might be argued that apple inc should not have because it is generic and should be available to the public if it got establish as gtld.
    the same goes with the word canon which also have generic meaning. mainly in establishing what interpretation is correct. or what books/ stories in a fictional universe should be offical.
    although the interested in owning a name in that may not be as large now. it might be larger in the future.

  18. @Elliot

    I understand they say they won’t grant “jewelers” and “jeweler,” but will that actually stand ? With $180k just for application fees, and a lot more thereafter, we know that $$$ is why ICANN is doing this.

    I highly doubt ICANN is going to be able to say NO to “.jewelry” or “.diamonds” just because they previously granted a “.jewelers.” “.jeweler”, maybe, but not others which are quite similar. And each additional term allowed will further dilute every other similar extension.

    And also I agree with @Svein Tore Storm Moe ….. .APPLE and .CANON are both generics. In reality, I bet thousands or tens of thousands of generic words are trademarked within certain industries and specific contexts. So those are automatically not allowed to be used as generics ? How do you decide when to grant it to a generic trademark ?

    I’d bet $1 million that the gTLD’s don’t end up being operational, and if they do, it won’t be for a decade, especially with the huge confusion/who is entitled to what shitstorm and government resistance coming.

  19. Greg is absolutely correct.
    It’s vanity, which in so many cases is the *exact* same phenomenon that drives interest in generic keyword .com’s.

  20. “Is it just ignorance or an agenda here ? People raving about gTLD’s don’t seem to realize how entrenched .COM is.”


    Looks like everyone has an agenda,

    A while back I was watching a documentary on PBS (public TV channel) about the creation of the National parks in the U.S. , I was amazed at how difficult it was at the beginning to convince the people about the importance of putting some land aside for the National parks since at that time most people were only thinking of their own immediate interest and the last thing on their mind was what was good for the environment or the future generations. The timber and mining companies along with the ranchers and landowners were all interested to get their hands on those valuable parcels of land and they all went out of their way to prevent the creation of National parks. Even some of the Companies who were in favor of creating the National parks were in it for the wrong reasons, because they were trying to take ownership of those National resources in order to make money off of the tourists and visitors.

    So a Century later we are again in a similar situation as a lot of the people who are in favor or against the new TLDs all have their own agendas and are only thinking of their own interests, the last thing on these people’s minds is what is good for the global Internet community and its future generations.

    The generic keyword TLDs are a global public resource that should benefit the whole global Internet community and its future generations, we should not stand by and let a few companies take over them, because once these global public resources are given away then it will be very hard to undo that and that’s what some Companies and their insider friends at ICANN are banking on.

  21. Totally dumb idea that will undoubtedly attract a lot of investment and wealth for the cartel. The press ate it up virtually cutting and pasting the same ICANN-generated press release word for word. No journalist asked why we need a directory system of listings by keywords when we have sub-domains that can be activated on any of those keywords with .com. Certainly for less than $185K. No journalist asked if we have a system where non profits should be .org and networks, .net why it’s not followed. No one asked why these will work when .info .travel, .mobi and .jobs didn’t.

    Stand on a busy corner and watch the cars go by and in ten minutes you’ll probably never see one with a vanity plate. It’s a small market but implementing it doesn’t create any more work or any separate system to manage.

    Somewhere on my blog and probably this one there is a graphic showing logos of major brands. For Nike just a swish. Brand building is an essential marketing practice that separates successful companies from less successful ones. When you want to visit Nike, you picture the swish in your mind and that triggers your fingers to type Nike.com. It’s not necessary to add dot com to the logo because that is assumed. Just like being described as a “Fortune 500” company conveys leadership and trust, having the dot com address is also a contributor to the perception of the brand as strong. Also when you see arches you think Hamburgers. BP- gas. It takes a lot to make this happen and support it from signage to business cards to trucks, on uniforms to listings in lots of places, to partners etc. These brands also have recognition assets in hundreds of countries and cultures.

    The only business reason to change is when name is stained, so AIG becomes 21st Century, Anderson consulting becomes Accenture. Or Washington Mutual becomes Chase. That was an amazing transformation in equipment, training etc but there was value i the new name. In each case there was major advertising campaigns to make these new names known.

    But where is the business case here? Disney- maybe. They own a space where they can brand and advertise all their films. Right now as you know that’s mess. But again- sub-domains at movies.com could accomplish the same goal.

    Or better still finding an alternate title in the aftermarket and naming your TV show or movie around it. Ellen.com much more clout then theellenshow.disney.

    What’s missing in all of this is any research on the user. I worked onsite with corporate clients this week live where normally we work remotely. I was astonished to observe the different ways people searched for information. Many always typing the dot com into the Google bar which of course hijacks them from the intended destination and offers a plethora of alternate sites they would otherwise never be exposed to.

    What I discovered was shocking. Search for San Francisco antique jewelry and of the thousands of results, most are robotic directory sites offering the same information. I was looking for a specific dealer, and though he was in Google maps, finding a link to his actual site was painful. Now we need more directories?

    The other thing that don’t see from ICANN is an understanding of the changing navigation paths of users. Apps, mobile devices, closed browsers like itunes and email. Will sites be text in 2 years or all video. Will devices connect to TV and broadcast content as we have super-charged its impact with show and tell selling. TV was an advancement that let us see the news and get a fuller perspective on it. It did not destroy print, yet the Internet took us back to being informed without sound and pictures and that destroyed print.

    There will always be .com in the future. But investing in yesterday’s habits is doomed from the start.

  22. 200k to cannon or IBM is pennies.

    When either has a new product don’t you think it would make sense to use the address x365.cannon or server78.IBM in their print ad?

    The companies wouldn’t have to use back slaves.

  23. The reason they will register their brand is fear. And as mentioned, you protect your brand by taking control of it wherever you can, and as soon as possible. Companies will look at this as leaving their own backdoor unlocked at night unless they secure their brand. Otherwise, they are leaving too much to chance. It’s merely the most cost efficient way to mitigate future risk.

    And a majority of the new tld pumpers know this all too well.

  24. I think .stupid should be the first extension rolled out
    These brand domains make no difference in the world of domain name investing for .com owners and are only make sense for a small group (less than 100) global companies.

    As for other extensions like .inc and .nyc

    There will be a few winners (.inc is my top pick for new extension of the decade) but every extension will only have 300 or 500 names worth any generic value and rest will be brand protection money and speculative domainer money going in for flipping.

    Most people who will buy into these things are just fueling the failure since development is the key to any new extension and once domainers are involved you know most will be parked. Of course, if you own the extension it’s a great chuckle having people pay you while destroying their own investment at the same time.

  25. A company like Canon could use .Canon the same way Apple used .Mac. Apple created a good business model already for consumer tech products.

    If you deal with these companies internationally you know there are regulations with corporate sites & emails etc. It’s better to offer services via a non corporate site. (User generated content)

    Imagine with .Canon they can offer your user name attached to an account that they control. They could give the domains away for free or a low service fee each year for consumers. See your uploaded photos at YourName.Canon.

    I could imagine Nike doing the same for users who register for Nike Plus. I could imagine Apple doing this later for something like .apl.

    People also thought paying per click was a crazy idea at one time. It’s good to see if brands can use domains in new innovative ways.

  26. Will a domain like .apple resolve by itself or will it require a subdomain?

    If no, then why is http://www.nikon better than nikon.com?

    I can’t see brands abandoning years of branding for lack of a clear benefit. Too much chance of confusion.

  27. The media in Canada is really touting these new tld’s yet dot CA is only beginning to take off .
    Big corporations will buy these domains and the small players will be left out as i doubt they will want to share there exclusive web space,so what does that leave everyone else dot com/org/net/ca ect, this can only add value to these domain suffixes as the market becomes more diluted and i have noticed some recent high sales figure generic dot com domains in the last few day’s.

  28. @Matt
    I don’t think any of the brands applying are thinking of replacing their corporate sites.

    Thinking in terms of what Apple did with dotMac. Apple is their corporate site. They don’t want user generated content their mainly (except for support forums). The mac.com (which was marketed as .mac) was a user service that many mac users signed up for & still use.

    It may not seem normal now but the internet is still young. Those born now will be familiar with Camera.Canon & it allows them to have great keywords & strengthening their brand. It’s better to think about the future.

  29. @ Olney “It may not seem normal now but the internet is still young. Those born now will be familiar with Camera.Canon”

    Those born now… will not be familiar with .com

    Like all technology one model comes and replaces the old

    xxxx.apple is only slightly better than apple.com, but it is slightly better and will effectively see the end of .com’s

    all of us invested in .com’s being so vocal about how “it’s not that bad” shows that we all know – whether we admit it or not – for domains this is big

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