Brandable Domain Names
Brand Names are a Long-Term Investment
Given how long we have to live with a company or brand name, it’s amazing how little thought most businesses give to them. Most look at a name as a personal choice rather than a brand or marketing strategy, or strictly as a legal necessity. Given the complexities added by consumer psychology, global search competition or confusion, potential legal infringement, unavailable domains, and the need for differentiation, it can be well worth your time to hire someone very familiar with brand and naming strategy to help you not just develop creative options, but help you objectively evaluate them and choose the best option.
But here are some beginning pointers.
Creating a brandable domain name
Creating a good brandable domain name will take a bit of work, and a lot of creativity. The best brandable domain names are ones that are unique words, but which are connected to the website’s purpose in some way. Think of Flickr.com, for example – it’s a play on the flicker of light that’s essential to photography. Or Zune.com, which is a play on the word ‘tune’.
Compound words – like YouTube – are a great strategy for creating a brandable domain name. You’ll need to draw up a couple of lists of words related to your brand, then get to work pairing them until you find something that works.
Suffixes – another popular way of creating a brandable domain name is to add a suffix to an existing noun. Think of Friendster.com, for example. Because this has been quite a popular way of creating brandable domain names over the past number of years, you might have to get creative with the suffix that you choose, especially if the noun you’re using is a common one. Google ‘list of English suffixes’ and get creative!
Your last choice is to just make up your own word! It worked for Etsy.com, and it could for you, too. This last choice will take quite a bit of imaginative, blue-sky thinking but it does mean that your brand domain name will be totally unique.
Bear in mind when creating your brandable domain name that it should sound good, and trip easily off the tongue. A name like Syncplicity, for example, is awkward to say and to spell, as is something like Sclipo (both now defunct websites). If you’re going for a domain name that evokes your business in some way, make sure it is indeed evocative – the name of the now-defunct website Fairtilizer.com, for example, would lead a casual browser to think it sold some kind of fertilizer; in reality it was a music website!
If you’ve been looking online for tips on creating the perfect domain name, you’ve probably come across a variation of the following list. A good domain name should be:
- Easy to pronounce
- Easy to spell
- Not too similar to competing domain names
- Not somebody else’s trademark
That’s a very useful list, but it’s probably more useful for evaluating a domain name after you’ve chosen it, than it is for helping you to create one.
The first thing to note before you start building your domain name is that unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money, you can probably forget a domain name on .com, .org or .net that’s a single, real word. Most of those have already been snapped up, either by other businesses or a domain investors.
Six Common Characteristics of Brandable Domains
Brandable domains, in addition to being available, typically incorporate most, if not all, of the following characteristics. They are:
Relevant. Through either complementary or implied meaning, they relate to your mission, purpose, product or service even if they don’t describe it.
Unique. They are distinctly different from your competition; they are intriguing in some way or express a unique personality.
Memorable. They are easy to remember and recall. (Note this is different than uniqueness.)
Credible. They sound trustworthy and professional, even if very creative and unusual. (As in many domains that list “best,” “quality,” or “top” in their names, having to say you’re credible in your name or domain probably indicates you aren’t.) They look agreeable or positive, and aren’t easily corruptible.
Brief. Ideally, they are short. One or two words are best. This is partly about memorability (above) but also partly about the ease of keying the domain into browsers and keying it without errors.
User-friendly. Easy to spell; easy to say; no aural confusion (was that “eight” or “ate?”); no use of numbers as digits, random abbreviations, or inside jargon; obviously reads at a glance as multiple words rather than a letter jumble; non-repeating characters to discourage keyboarding errors, etc.
If we look at the example of Google, it represents all of these characteristics, even though it’s an odd word. For some, who didn’t know the mathematical theory meaning of a Googol (a mind-boggling number written as 1 followed by 100 zeros) the name might have suffered a bit on the relevancy and credibility factors in the early days, but as it’s become the standard for search all of those issues have disappeared.