.brand TLDs: More alive than dead?

Brand TLDs, or top-level domains matching the trademarks of various companies and exclusively operated by the same companies, are rarely reported on by domain industry media. When they are, it is almost always sad news when yet another major corporation fails to find a good way to use its .brand domain and eventually abandons it. It may appear that creating .brand TLDs was a mistake in the first place and that they serve no purpose.

This is hardly true, as indicated by the 2020 .brands industry report released by GoDaddy Registry. The report sums up annual results for .brand TLDs – which, as it turns out, are doing pretty well. Last year was difficult of course, but it was for everybody. With so many businesses having to move online, plenty of gTLDs even benefited from the pandemic thanks to an increase in registrations. But only large corporations can register .brand TLDs and for most of them, 2020 was a challenging year. Even so, .brand TLDs demonstrated better performance in key indicators, despite slower growth compared to 2019. The number of domain names registered in .brand TLDs totaled 21,499, or 8 percent more than in 2019, the average number of names in a .brand TLD reaching 40 (up 12 percent).

IT remains the leading industry in the number of businesses owning their own .brand TLDs. As for actual usage, corporations in the banking and finance sector and automakers are most active, according to the statistics. As of the end of 2020, the highest number of domain names (4,543) was registered in .DVAG, owned by Deutsche Vermögensberatung (DVAG), a German company offering a range of financial consulting services. The runner-up is .AUDI with 2,074 registered names. The same stats reveal the geographic distribution of .brand TLDs: Germany leads by a lot, followed by the United States and France. Notably, Russia is in the top five countries with the fastest growing number of names registered in .brand TLDs. Russia was fourth (up 26 percent), being outrun by Israel, Denmark and India but it left Germany behind.

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