Domain Portfolio Management - Part 1

As the Internet continues to shift, companies are faced with numerous obstacles when trying to successfully protect their brand. Domains are continuing to change at a quick pace and it is critical for organizations to keep up.
Domain names are often managed in a similar way to trademarks or servicemarks, but the complexities associated with domain names can be far more intricate. The restrictions and requirements change often and very quickly. It is important to have a strategy in place that is always up-to-date and is flexible to allow for these changes. Your strategy should be a practical way to not only registering, but also protecting your domain names. Remember, without these assets, you have no way of taking and maintaining your business online.
Your company should start by comprehensively reviewing the domains that are currently owned and defended by your organization. It is critical to also identify domains that are potentially important to the defense of your brand, your registered trademarks, your service marks, your fictitious names, etc.
There are numerous ways to approach this and to think of the importance of the domains in your portfolio. We typically develop a domain portfolio through a matrix that relates the importance, relevance, and popularity of the top-level domain with the importance of the domain or phrase in question.
Typically, SteadyRain groups top-level domains into the following categories:
Primary Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)                                     
.com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .net and .org
These top-level domains are those that have the most brand awareness with the public because these most of the TLDs that were defined by RFC 920 in October of 1984. Obviously, some of the listed gTLDs are restricted and cannot be owned by organizations that do not meet the necessary requirements.
Secondary Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs)
.aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .musuem, .name and .pro
The top-level domains have been added over time, many in the early part of the new millennium, and do not have the same “brand equity” at the primary gTLDs. However, as keyword and key phrase saturation of the gTLDs is not as dense as the primary gTLDs, companies and organizations often have an opportunity to register keyword domains with ease and a lower cost than the same domains with primary gTLD extensions.  As above, some of the listed gTLDs are restricted, though much less so than the registered primary gTLDs, and cannot easily be owned by organizations that do not meet the necessary requirements.
Sponsored Top-Level Domains (sTLDs)
.cat, .jobs, .mobi, .tel and .travel
Originally announced in June 2005, these additional “sponsored” TLDs have entered the market and, other than .mobi, have little traction on the Web. However, most are available for registration and share many of the availability benefits discussed above for secondary generic top-level domains.
Commercialized Country-Code Domains (ccTLD)
.cc, .fm, .me, .tm, .tu, .tv and .ws
Many people understand that if they see a web address that includes a suffix with only two characters (e.g. .au, .uk, .us) that these are not general top-level domains, but are actually specific suffixes assigned to specific countries. Some of these countries have allowed the commercialization of their ccTLDs as a way of gaining exposure for their tiny. These domains have most often been commercialized with the help of organizations in North America or Europe who have identified these domain suffixes as having unique relevance to consumers. 
Country-Code Domains (ccTLD)
.au, .ca, .de, .es, .eu, .fr, .in, .mx, .uk and .us . . .
The vast majority of ccTLDs have not been largely commercialized, but are still commonly registered by businesses who doing business internationally and wish to protect their brand within worldwide. Registration of these domains can be quite complicated, but as demand has increased, many countries have identified that domain registration can be a revenue generator, similar to the smaller nations that have been doing it for years as described above.
All of the above TLDs can vary in importance for any business or organization that is looking to protect their brand online. However, the order in which they’ve been described within this article is a good hierarchy to assume will work for your organization. Normally, this TLD priority is something we place on the horizontal axis of our relationship.
In our next article we will help you define the horizontal axis of considering just what domains should be included within your domain portfolio and show you how these axes work together to define a small part of your online brand defense strategy.