There has been much controversy over the release of .SUCKS gTLD which will go on sale at the end of March. ICANN’s approval of the somewhat intimidating domain name has incited apprehension in many global brands, fearing that their brand identity and reputation may be subject to defamation should the domain name fall into the wrong hands. Such apprehension of course is warranted. After all, the next viral tumbler blog could easily be burgerking.sucks, or nike.sucks or even taylorswift.sucks.
In order to avoid such potential defamation and brand abuse,Vox Populi registry has set aside a number of domain names, mostly relating to global brands. To register a domain name in this category (called the Sunrise Premium), a brand owner must pay $2,500 per annum. Much controversy surrounds this Sunrise Premium category. Many brand owners see the .sucks domain name as an excuse to sell gTLD’s to companies at inflated rates for fear that they may fall into the the hands of a competitor or a discontented customer. If a company or brand fails to register a domain from the Sunrise Premium category, the unassigned names will be made available for consumer advocate subsidy.
From here, all subsidised domains will be channelled to everything.sucks or in other words, an online community forum where dissatisfied customers can voice their concerns collectively. Naturally enough, many brand owners are anxious of the potential negative affects such online forums can have on their brand reputation. The real question is, if the .sucks revolution can’t be stopped, how can it be used positively?
New domains like .sucks do not necessarily have to be viewed in a negative light. In many ways, .sucks can actually be of great benefit to brands looking to develop customer engagement processes. The controversial domain name could actually be harnessed positively by companies if they use the TLD correctly. For instance, consumers can voice their dissatisfaction and provide valuable criticism. It can almost be considered as another channel for customer service between brands and their consumers. From this standpoint, brands can optimise and positively enhance their products, processes and services to greater levels of quality. The .sucks domain should be viewed in the same way we view social media in business ; Another tool that can shed light on a brands reputation and public perception. Ultimately, both domain names and social media channels require ongoing monitoring to guarantee a brands success. Both can reap great benefits for a business if their power is properly leveraged.
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