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Why Domain Extensions Aren’t All Created Equal

So the dust has settled on the .INC domain launch, and a whole bunch of ‘Incorporated’ businesses across the U.S. now have pretty impressive new .INC web addresses. And they certainly should be impressive too, because .INC’s certainly don’t come cheap. 

That’s why this felt like the perfect time to examine why the price of .INC might be considered high. What made it so expensive in comparison to most other top-level domains (TLDs)? Why are some special? Why aren’t all domain extensions created equal?

Who Sets The Price?

First, let’s back up and take a look at who actually sets the prices for domain names in general… 

You purchase domain names through a ‘registrar’ like Namecheap, but registrars get their TLDs supplied by ‘registries’. These are the ones who actually control each TLD. So just like a standard store or shop, the registry sets the price and the registrar (like Namecheap) adds its markup. 

So far so standard. And while it’s important to understand the background context, it doesn’t explain why registries set the wholesale prices of some TLDs so high. 

What Are The Other Factors?

It’s certainly not down to historical value. For example, we all know that .COM is still the king of TLDs. It’s been around so long it now seems to go hand-in-hand with the internet itself. In fact, the most expensive domain names out there are all .COMs:

  • LasVegas.com – $90 million
  • PrivateJet.com – $30.18 million
  • Voice.com – $30 million
  • Internet.com – $18 million
  • 360.com – $17 million

But we’re not talking about full domain names, we’re only talking about top-level domain extensions. So unless you’re trying to buy a popular .COM domain name that someone else already owns, the price of the .COM TLD itself can be comparatively cheap. If you go to the right place. 

Is It Because It’s New? 

It may seem like the price is high because .INC is the freshest thing on the menu. While that is almost certainly a factor to consider, many new TLDs are released every year, and their prices still don’t come close to .INC—like .DEV, which was also released this year, for example. 

Mind you, the .INC domain certainly had two things in common with .DEV:

  1. It was a brand new release
  2. It had a relatively niche customer base

And it’s the customer base that makes the difference here. While .DEV’s core customer base is developers, .INC’s customer base is corporate America. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that’s quite a difference in business and budget size. The registrars know these type of organizations have deeper pockets. They know they can and will pay more. But, there’s still more to it than that. It’s not just about what people can afford to pay. 

Paying For Brand Equity

The Inc. abbreviation is recognized and renowned around the world. It’s niche, and yet globally respected all at the same time. It shows potential customers and clients that you are incorporated in the U.S. and so your business is the real deal. It’s a sign of quality and stability. It conjures up images of skyscrapers and sharp suits. It screams “I’M IN BUSINESS, AND I MEAN BUSINESS!” And that’s all before anyone’s even set eyes on your actual website. Not bad for three letters and a dot. 

Pay More, Get More

Just like shares in an oil company will probably be worth more than shares in a toy company, a similar principle applies with TLDs like .INC. You’re buying more than a new domain extension. You’re buying extra recognition and brand equity, and ultimately more high-value customers, which means more overall business. It’s not a purchase, it’s an investment. It’s about both instant gain and long term value. 

This TLD that can either reflect your status or help propel you towards the big leagues. That’s the key difference. It’s not about what .INC is. It’s about what it represents and offers. 

So, next time you feel like gasping “How much!?!” when you see the price of a TLD, ask yourself what it represents in terms of strategic and business value. If you have the right sort of business, would you really sacrifice massive brand equity and potential future business just to save in the short term? Take a look at .INC for yourselves and find out.

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Richard Adams avatar

Richard Adams

Richard has over 10 years’ experience working at major organizations and agencies, writing for brands such as BT Global Services, Oracle, Google, and eBay. This experience includes campaigns and projects across digital, social media, video, print, and branding… In short, he’s ok with words. More articles written by Richard.

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