The prime drivers behind many dotBrand applications a decade ago, and likely to be compelling reasons for future applicants, are based around trust, brand integrity and user experience. Owning a TLD means organisations can curate their own URL naming structures, be agile in registering and using domain names as well as having the ultimate asset in terms of protecting their intellectual property. All very practical reasons where the return on investment and resources can be evaluated.
However, one often forgotten drivers behind the creation of the dotBrand programme by ICANN all those years ago was innovation. Back in 2010 when serious consideration and debate was shaping the future state of the Internet’s naming space, digital innovation was in its infancy. The term “The Internet of Things” or IoT for short was coined as far back as 1985 but it wasn’t until the end of the first decade of this century that we started to see true interoperability and integration of connected devices. Cisco Networks estimated that the IoT was truly “born” between 2008 and 2009, with the things/people ratio growing from 0.08 in 2003 to 1.84 in 2010.
In the past decade we have seen a huge growth in Internet usage. The significant decrease in the cost of deploy mobile networks has led to the world becoming a truly connected planet. This in turn has led to the development, and use of apps for smart devices, social media and connected networks for all aspects in our daily lives. We are now on the cusp of the next iteration of the digital age, the Web3.0 world. But how often do we stop and think about the underlying technology that is needed to support this digital ecosystem?
Behind every great app, website or social media platform sits a domain name. In most instances the millions, or even billions, don’t care. They happily tap on an icon on their smart devices and are as happy as Larry when the page appears. However, we all know that technology never stands still, and by building a platform on a “traditional domain name” there will always be some risk of service interruption, security, or domain ownership. That is unless you utilise a dotBrand as your foundation.
By owning the Top-Level Domain, dotBrand owners can innovate to their hearts content, registering domain names at will to serve as their sandbox for experimentation and pilot projects. With Web 3.0 technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts and decentralised applications, utilising a dotBrand domain provides a controlled space to test and refine innovative concepts before integrating them into existing or new web platforms.
Web 3.0 places a very strong emphasis on trust and authenticity, particularly through blockchain technology and applications. By utilising a dotBrand domain, an organisation can integrate blockchain solutions, such as domain ownership verification or decentralized identity management, to establish trust and ensure the authenticity of an online presence. Consider an example from the financial services sector where using a dotBrand would enable a user to validate financial transactions in real time through the creation of unique domain names that could be authenticated by decentralised platforms such as a blockchain, or a pharmaceutical company who is able to provide an authenticity of their medicines through a specific validation URL, an approach used by Johnson & Johnson with its VaxCheck (vaxcheck.jnj).
DotBrands allow organisations to create specific naming conventions and user-centric experiences, a key element for building Web 3.0 applications and fostering greater engagement. With a dotBrand domain, businesses can build dedicated online communities or forums where users can collaborate, share ideas, and co-create innovative solutions. This fosters a sense of belonging and enables open innovation within a brand ecosystem.
The list of possibilities that technology provides us is endless. What is clear is that companies that invest in technology to improve user experience will differentiate themselves in their respective markets and that opportunity is underpinned by the potential a dotBrand TLD can deliver for an organisation.
Companies are naturally quite risk adverse when it comes to digital change. One of the barriers to switch from a traditional domain name, such as a .com, to a dotBrand for major websites has been a fear of losing search ranking. However, some organisations have used the opportunity in owning a dotBrand to create new digital ecosystems and build their SEO results by using a more meaningful, memorable, and relevant domain name. Audi and BMW are good examples of this, building micro-sites for their car models which are directly relevant, memorable, and naturally, meaningful in all languages.
There are numerous reasons why an organisation may be considering a dotBrand application. Security, stability, cost, and IP protection. But building business cases and user scenarios around “what if” strategies is possibly the most rewarding and disruptive for the competitive digital landscape.
There really is no limit to the potential a TLD could deliver. With the new application round penciled in to start in quarter 2 of 2026, now is the time to start looking at the feasibility of an application for a dotBrand (or two), and creating those innovative user case scenarios, taking your vision and turning it into digital reality
It has been fantastic to witness clients’ responses, when our domain strategist team show them the domain security and portfolio insights and portfolio visualisations in Intelligence.