Deloitte has announced that it submitted an application for the top level domain (TLD) name ‘.deloitte’ to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Applications for new TLDs reportedly cost around $185,000, but Deloitte feels that the ‘.deloitte’ domain will give it a more personalised online presence and “enhance the site user experience”.

Global brand and communications MD Heather Hancock said that being one of the first applicants for a TLD fits with the brand’s presence as a “leader, innovator and impact maker”.

She also suggests that it will ensure that exchange of information among the company’s employees remains secure and acts as a defence against domain squatters.

But is there really any value in having a branded TLD?

At the WWW2012 Conference in Lyon this week Sir Tim Berners-Lee said the internet needed stability in domains rather than “arbitrary new TLDs”.

You can always find a new domain, there are many now and there’s plenty of space. There’s no shortage.

He said that ‘.org’ domains are useful to identify non-profit organisations, but new TLDs should only be allowed for categories of websites that are offering something socially different.

Similarly the SEO benefits of a branded TLD are unclear.

When ICANN announced the new application process last June Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan said that TLDs wouldn’t give companies a boost with search engines.

They won’t have any super ranking powers. If you managed to get .money, that doesn’t mean you’ll rank tops for money-related terms any more than people with the existing .travel domains do well for travel — because they don’t.

A new TLD obviously begs the question of what to do with your brand’s existing website. Everyone recognises ‘.com’, so what is the point in causing consumer confusion by migrating all the content over to ‘.deloitte’?

The window for applications ended last week, so it will be interesting to see how many other brands have stumped up the cash for a new own-brand TLD and what they do with them when the new domains go live in 2013.