How to Name Your Domain

May 15,2011 Posted by to Branding

When naming a company, the first thing most people do is pull their hair out trying to find an available domain name. And if the pure domain name they want is in use, they give up and move on. That’s nuts! Even if you have a pure online business, the availability of a domain name is not a deal breaker. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself a 5 simple questions about how you find things online.

  1. When you are shopping online and, for example, Google “lemongrass candles,” do you really care what the domain names are of the companies that appear in the search results?
  2. Do you look at the domain names of companies that come up in search results?
  3. Do you mistrust a company because they don’t own the pure domain of their business name?
  4. Do you refrain from doing business with companies that have the dot net (instead of the dot com) of their name?
  5. Do you flat out give up looking for a company because the URL you typed in your browser doesn’t go to what you thought would be their website?

I suspect you answered “No,” to all of the above questions. So now you understand why not having the exact dot com of your business name is really not that important. Just as we ran out of 800 numbers and moved to 888, 877 and 866, no one cares, no one loses credibility, and no one really notices.

At my naming agency, Eat My Words, the last thing we do on a project is look at domain name availability. If the pure domain is taken, we just come up with a creative way around it. For instance, we named a company Wavelength. (They connect the leaders of world’s most visionary companies with social entrepreneurs.) The domain was taken. Did they abandon the name? Of course not. They got, which is even better because:

  • it reinforces the brand
  • it’s an easy to remember phrase
  • it was available for around $9.95

Here are some more tips:

  1. Don’t give up on a great brand name even when the domain appears to be in use. Tricky cyber squatters often disguise “parked” sites as real businesses. Do a little clicking and you may find it’s a pay-per-click website. The sneakiest one we’ve seen is, ironically, Click through any of the sneaker brand logos and you’ll discover it’s a slick pay-per-click site. (Editor’s note: seems to be an attack site, so we didn’t link to it here.)
  2. Don’t think just because a site is “parked” that the price is astronomical. Spoon Me negotiated for $5000. was a bargain at $1200.
  3. Don’t think “not for sale” is written in stone. If you pony up enough cash, some people will sell a domain, even if it’s an existing business. We named a “luxury on the installment plan” shopping website Venue. Even though was in use by another company and there was a notice on the site that said the domain wasn’t for sale, our client persisted and got it. (It sure beats their old name, Peach Direct.) On the other hand, the company we wanted to name The Gravy could not get the guy to sell, despite the fact that his band, The Gravy, has disbanded. He had dreams that they might make a comeback one day.

Want to learn 8 more valuable tips? See How to Name Your Domain on the Eat My Words website.

Alexandra WatkinsAlexandra Watkins is Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Eat My Words, a nationally-recognized branding firm known for creating names that generate buzz and revenue. They love naming retail businesses and have an affordable “Snack” service for non-funded start-ups and entrepreneurs.

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