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In Depth
Your Domain Name... (pg. 2)
By Ahmed Saad, Technology Matrix Group - Copyright 2001
Identifiable (tangible):
The Test: Can you make a known object represent the name? 

One of our businesses is "Gift Box".  Part of the branding process involved having oversized boxes on top of the

luggage racks of our cars.  A cheap way to capitalize on the identifiable nature of the business name to create a brand.  In many cases your branding activity will result in the brand being "identifiable", but this is usually a long term process and may not be present at the beginning of your marketing activity.  A perfect example is Gateway computers with their black and white "cow" motif.

Imaginable (intangible):

The Test:  Can the name excite an image in your customers' minds that will later cause them to remember your business when they see or think of such an image?

Imaginable should not be confused with the positive results of branding efforts that created a tangible, identifiable object (the Gateway example above).  An example of an imaginable name that excites an image in ones mind is "October Skies" and customers may reverse associate the business with the beautiful scenery of the sky in the fall.


Dot com:

There is dot com and then there are 'the others'.    If you cannot get the first dot com you think of, work harder to find another one.  If you cannot get javascripts.com, you are better off with javascriptsonline.com than going with javascripts.org, or javascripts.biz.  If you want to go with .net, we suggest javascripts.net AND javascriptsnet.com so that you can confidently brand "Java Scripts Net" and be covered no matter how the customer perceived your domain.   The only time people say that dot com doesn't matter is when they can't get it.   Don't give up easily, there are MANY dot coms yet to be registered, and many expire daily! 

An exception is non-profits, where ".org" communicates the non-profit nature of the business and should be the one to use and brand.    If you have a non-profit, we strongly urge that you register both the .com and the .org version of your domain if at all possible.  While you will continue to brand the .org and use it to communicate your non-profit nature, many people will still default to typing .com first, even if they read the name as .org.  It is simply the extension that immediately comes to mind and many people think of it as the extension that goes after any web address.  Additionally, since we always advocate branding the name of your business and not your internet URL, people will automatically type your brand name followed by .com.   As a non-profit to have both is having the best of both worlds.

Trademarkable:

If you are planning to go big you will need to get yourself a trademark protection.  Check the our legal resources for more information on trademarks.  Not only does a trademark give you legal protection from others infringing on your brand, it protects you from those who may claim that you are infringing on theirs.  A name that is too general (e.g. book) may be rejected on a trademark application, and others may be already registered even if the domain name is available. 

Short:

The shorter the better as long as it makes sense.  Going with acronyms, initials, and abbreviations may be OK if you are branding it as such, and as long as it does not have negative connotations to it.  "Taco Bell" customers will probably look them up online using tacobell.com.  "Taco Bell" may not want to brand TB.com for more than one reason ;-) 

If your business is "Miller Charitable Foundation" you should not go with the domain MCF.org or MCF.com unless your business is branded as such in all ways available, i.e. Only when people ask specifically will they find out that it stands for "Miller Charitable Foundation".  It is better to go with miller.org, MillerCharity.org, or MillerFoundation.org since it will register better in people's minds when they try to reach you on the internet from memory.

From a branding point of view, a two word name is the best combination of shortness, memorability, and brand identity.  That said, the reality of the net is that one word/common word names give superior search results and are likely to be immediately typed into the customer's browser.  This makes one word domains extremely popular due to their great utility.  Despite this, use the one word domain that you may have as a source of traffic while branding a more unique business name.  A good two word domain is more likely to win the branding battle in the long term. 

We do not generally advise going with a three word domain unless it is the actual name of an existing business (already branded), a very popular term, or a very slick play on words.  Most three word domains will NOT have a global appeal and you will find yourself having to brand something else for your overseas customers.  Needless to say anything more than three words is a waste of time except for search engine placements.  Otherwise they have no place in branding.


Final Note:   

Play the devil's advocate, get all the feedback you can and cover all the bases.  It is OK to choose not to have your domain .com, or choose not to give it global appeal.  What is not OK is being caught by surprise after you invest a lot of time and money branding and marketing a name that you never realized had problems.

There is almost always a tradeoff.  Your 100% perfect name might be taken but the 80%-90% one is available (it always is).  Do the research, put all the above points in a matrix and assign each name a rating from 1 - 10 for each of the criteria above.  Give the perfect name 10 on each of the criteria (even if someone else has it), then start assigning points to the other names that you found available.  Eliminate any name that scores 7 or less in any of the above criteria and you will slowly find one that scores 8 or more in each criteria and is available for you to register!

Click here to read "Choosing a Domain Registrar"

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