During the inaugural days of the Internet, when a new business wanted an online presence it had the luxury of registering a domain name that was just the brand name with no further branding to it. For instance, Intel chose intel.com and HP got hp.com. Those were the good old days, but alas, things have changed since then. And drastically so.
With technology branding too has evolved significantly. Now when you are building an online presence, every aspect of it, even your domain name, provides an opportunity to strengthen your brand. What was once considered an expense is now an investment.
Often companies assign the responsibility to buying domain names to the IT department. What they fail to see is the strategic importance of their company’s web address, which makes buying domain names the Marketing Department’s job instead.
What is the strategic importance of domain names for your business?
If your business website is attracting and engaging incremental traffic constantly, you’re on your way to success. Conversely, if you fail to build a high-performing website, no amount of Google and Facebook ads will give you the success you desire.
It’s worth acknowledging that one of the most important aspects of a website’s success is its domain name. Designing your website’s structure, the colors, fonts, and its overall web presence — all comes second to choosing a winning domain name.
Consider these aspects that a domain name shadows:
i) Brand Positioning
A good domain name fast-tracks your branding efforts. It does the job of establishing your brand and what you have to offer. For example, lifeandstyle.store.
ii) Marketing Touchpoints
Good domain names add the extra value to your marketing efforts. They can be used as touchpoints that entice and engage your target audience. Consider theapartment.store. The name gives you a fair idea about what the website might have to offer.
iii) First Impression
You introduce your business with its name. It is your first impression and it should impress. Look at flutelessons.fun and you’ll know you’ll be having fun with flutes on this website.
What are the common mistakes entrepreneurs make when choosing a domain name?
The conception of your brand happens with its name. For something that is at the core of your brand’s identity, often entrepreneurs underestimate the importance of a good name. Considering all the strategic benefits that come along with a fitting domain name, it would be silly to settle for anything that doesn’t “feel right”.
In fact, two of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs makes when choosing a domain name include:
1. Compromising on the desired name
Many businesses tend to compromise on their name because it isn’t available.
Your domain name has a huge impact on almost every marketing activity you do, and it affects the performance of your overall digital strategy. So, it is crucial to be perceptual and pick something that appreciates your efforts.
For example, Stronger.tech, a tech startup that works towards making your company’s IT structure stronger.
2. Lack of innovation in choosing the domain name
As a future-focused business, you strive to bring in innovation in everything that you do. And branding is the single most important ingredient that will help you achieve that goal. Having a domain name that reflects this attitude of innovation can go a long way in getting your branding right.
As an entrepreneur, it helps to look at all the features of your business and think of innovative ways in which each of those can help achieve your objectives.
What makes a domain name effective as a branding strategy?
The two elements of a domain name (the domain and the domain extension) — both play a significant role in a company’s branding strategy. The following strategies have proven useful in getting the name right.
1. Get a relevant domain extension
Your name is the identity of your business and hence, should be on a relevant domain extension. The most common domain extension that has been there since the origin of the Internet is .COM. It originally stood for ‘commercial’ sites. Other extensions that were used include .NET (for network), .ORG (for organization), .EDU (for education), .INFO (for information), and more.
While these were the most commonly used domain extensions, they are a fraction of the options that are available now. To make domain names more brandable and memorable, hundreds of new domain extensions have been made available to fulfill specific purposes. Today there is .TECH for technology, .FUN for fun and entertainment, .PRESS for news and journalism and .STORE for retail and eCommerce stores. Some examples of these include:
The availability of these new domain extensions has opened a remarkable opportunity for new-age start-ups and businesses to choose a domain name that contributes towards building a strong online brand.
2. Make it keyword rich or industry relevant
Having a keyword rich or industry relevant domain extension is like adding an intuitive suffix to your domain name. Don’t you just search for ‘shoe store’ or ‘Chinese restaurants’? This makes these new domain extensions effective for branding your business online.
For instance, let’s look at Emirates. The airline company based out of UAE has two websites:
Both the domain names are serving different purposes and as a user, you can guess what they might be before you even visit the respective websites. That is the beauty of relevant, keyword rich domain extensions. They keep your domain name light and easy for existing and potential customers when they’re searching the web or typing the URL in the address bar.
Another example of a top brand effectively using new domain extensions for their branding is Viacom. Look at:
In today’s age, customers are increasingly relying on the Internet to get answers. Websites with immediately recognizable domain names make it easier for them and therefore, get pushed to the front. Do you want to miss out on such an opportunity?
3. Make it radio-test friendly
As we move into the era of voice search, it is imperative that domain names are easily understood and searchable by artificial assistants like Siri and Alexa. Web addresses on new domain extensions give you the added benefit of finding a name that fares well on the Radio Test.
If you ask Alexa (or Siri) to go to www.sportshoez.com, they may not be able to get there. New domain extensions such as .STORE, .PRESS, combat this challenge by giving you an opportunity to choose short, simple and relevant domain names like www.lorde.store or www.breakinto.tech.
4. Keep it free of hyphens, numbers, acronyms
Some of the basic qualities of a good domain name should have:
A practical domain name should only comprise of words. If your domain name has a number in it, the user might get confused whether it is spelled (six) or is it the numerical (6). Having hyphens or acronyms in the domain name doesn’t help either. Such names can get lost in translation or if someone misses the hyphen or puts the acronym wrong, they might land on a website on another continent altogether.
5. Keep your domain name short and memorable
Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tactics out there that brings relevant consumers to your website, so the simpler the domain name, the better it is for your branding. An effective domain name rolls off the tongue easily, because it is short and easy. This is irrespective of whether you run an online furniture store or are into foreign exchange trading online; a simple domain name that’s easy to pronounce, spell and write is a winner.
Now, quite often the short domain names you are looking for are either already taken or are available at a premium price. In a situation like this, it helps to get a bit creative and go with new domain extensions. The fact that they are still relatively “new”, chances of you finding the domain name on them are higher and they are cost effective too.
6. Trademark your domain names
One of the ‘must dos’ for every entrepreneur is to trademark their domain names — every single one of them. Merely registering them isn’t going to be enough. With the rising cyber threats such as brandjacking and typosquatting, it is becoming more and more important to take the right precautions for the safety of your organization and your consumers.
Disputes regarding domains name can arise anytime, so trademarking them and having protection under USPTO law helps. Take Hasbro Games, for instance, the creators of the well-known board game called Candy Land. They sued the domain name candyland.com, a domain name that was being used by an adult entertainment company. Hasbro Games won the lawsuit based on trademark dilution, claiming that domain name (candyland.com) undermined Hasbro’s own trademark and mislead users.
Therefore, trademarking your domain name(s) is an essential part of protecting your intellectual property.
7. Familiarise yourself with domain security
Cybercriminals are constantly on the lookout to bait businesses into internet scams, and if you’re not careful, you can be the one they target. Domain hijacking is when a fraudster changes the registration as an attempt to transfer ownership without the knowledge of the legitimate domain owner. It can lead to loss of control over identity, emails, social presence and more. Some of the ways to combat this include:
- Registering the domain name in your own name
- Keeping domain management under your control
- Restricting access to website management to selected team members
- Giving priority to emails related to your domain
- Being careful of phishing attempts
So, there you have it. With a bit of thought and creativity, you can find a domain name that gives your company a strong, unique online presence it needs to succeed.