Cutting through the Noise

FairWinds Partners —  October 7, 2011

The driving mission behind the gTLD Strategy blog is to provide brand owners and brand representatives with objective information about new gTLDs in order to provide them with completely unbiased advice on how to develop strategies around new gTLDs. We understand that some brands will, in fact, extract the most benefit from pursuing their own branded, category term or aspirational gTLDs. But we also understand that for some brands, applying for a new gTLD will not be worth the investment of time and money required.

So you can understand our frustration when we read things like Afilias Senior VP and CMO Roland LaPlante’s new piece for Circle ID. Afilias, by the way, is the company that launched the .INFO gTLD registry back in 2001, and is now offering gTLD services to brand owners and other applicants.

While LaPlante does, toward the end of his article, begrudgingly admit that “A dot Brand gTLD may not be appropriate for every company,” all of the other language systematically strives to refute that very point. He throws out things like, “A dot Brand gTLD will give a company full ownership of the entire domain name from beginning to end, as forward-thinking marketers have already realized” and “Marketers who missed the boat and cannot adequately explain their involvement (or lack thereof) in the dot Brand revolution may find themselves having to answer some difficult questions.”

The real message here? “New gTLDs may not be for everyone, but if you’re a smart marketer, and you don’t want to end up on your CEO’s hit list in two years, you better be putting in an application for your .BRAND in January.”

There are far too many sales pitches and marketing drivel masquerading as advice about new gTLDs floating around the Internet these days. Brand owners need to be wary of the fact that not everything written about new gTLDs actually has their best interest in mind. Many so-called “experts” are touting the idea that you MUST apply, when really, what you MUST do is educate yourselves and make the best decision for YOUR brand.

Then there’s the matter of LaPlante’s asserting that Pepsi has already begun promoting a .PEPSI gTLD in advertisements in India. He’s basing this claim on a small, decontextualized part of some advertisement (which he doesn’t cite) that displays the words “Delhi,” “More,” and “Pepsi” separated by dots. Pepsi, like every other brand, has not yet even submitted an application for its .BRAND, so to assume that Pepsi is already promoting that gTLD is not just premature, but more troublingly, wishful thinking on LaPlante’s part. Most likely, the dots were just a graphic design choice.