It was announced this week that the sunrise period for the new top level domain (TLD) '.Sucks' will launch on March 30th, prompting marketing managers across the world to start firing off emails to their bosses to cough up the expected $2,500 needed to secure '[theirbrand].sucks'.
And perhaps rightly so - short of ICANN, the outfit which controls TLDs, announcing swearword laden domain suffixes, '.sucks' has universal appeal to anyone wanting to attack a brand; be they a green activist, a politico, or just a fed up consumer with some disposable income. Established well, and with the right, quirky, mass-appeal content a .sucks domain could rapidly become a high profile, well ranked homepage for people to vent spleen and demonstrate people-power - something that the always-on nature of social media has helped fuel.
It's this cultural and behavioural shift over the last few years to Twitter and Facebook becoming mass market whinge platforms, (and - for disclosure - I have certainly used it for such), that means those in charge of a brand's external perception need more than ever to keep a watchful eye on the next big threat. The right-back-atcha nature of a well made, well maintained .sucks domain has the potential to bring a vocal community together against a company - and without naming any names, there are plenty that spring to mind in the fossil fuel, banking, and tax dodging categories alone.
On top of this, we should consider those for whom the 'brand' is themselves - pop stars, politicians, comedians, writers; anyone whose name is their essence needs to protect themselves from a cybersquatting 'brand vandal', (to cite a term coined by Steve Earl and Stephen Waddington in their book of the same name). Indeed, it's hard to think of a single instance where a .sucks domain would be helpful aside from the example mentioned by the Mirror's Olivia Solon - Dyson.sucks
Make of the new domain what you will - and there are already some mumblings about the $2,500 price tag being put on during the sunrise period for companies, (as opposed to the $200 for individuals), being slightly exploitative - the fact remains that the latest TLD has the potential to seriously affect any brand. Those in charge of managing external perceptions need to start asking now for the budget to be made available in June, or they might find themselves second to the race to .sucks, and having to fork out much more than that to buy it back off someone else.