Best Branding: What's In a Domain Name?
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June 02, 2006
Think carefully before selecting a domain name for your new web business. Is it worth sacrificing the enormous potential of word-of-mouth marketing, or the easy branding that comes with having a domain name that sticks, because you opted to save a buck on a clumsy, less effective domain name? This web copywriter and internet business owner says no.
A well-chosen domain name makes viral marketing as effortless as breathing. Remember, the main goal is to spread that link far and wide and drive traffic back to your website. Much of this will be done manually, through content submissions. Even so: a good, solid domain name has its work cut out for it, and that work is "Burn your brand into the mind of the target customer."
You'll know that your domain is enjoying viral marketing success when instead of surfing links to get to your web site, thousands of readers type your domain name directly into the browser. Another sign: your business gets domain name-dropped in everyday web conversations (a good example of this is GoDaddy.com).
Following are some tips on how to secure and brand the ideal domain name for your business.
1. Register the domain name early - while your business is still just a concept. If you wake up one morning with a catchy name for a new internet business, by all means register it. Domain names are ridiculously cheap these days, and the market is bustling. If you don't tie down your future brand, someone else will. Even if you opt out later, you can still profit by reselling the domain at a higher price than what you originally paid.
2. Don't announce your company brand name until you've found an available domain name. If you christen your business with a name before you purchase a domain, you'll inevitably feel disappointed when the domain you had hoped for is already owned by somebody else. So, don't do any business branding until you after the domain name availability search.
3. Keep it short and simple. You want your branding materials (logos, graphic headers, etc.) to display the actual dot-com, i.e., Wordfeeder.com as opposed to just "Wordfeeder". Thus, your domain name should be short enough to function as a graphic (including the dot-com tag). Shorter domain names (three words or less) tend to stay with the reader far better than long, cumbersome ones.
4. Say what it is. Suppose you're an article writer and you want to communicate that quickly in your domain name. Some options that could work for you include: ArticleWriter.com, ArticleAuthor.com, TheArticleGuy.com, ArticleCreation.com. Keep in mind though, that form of the word could throw your less astute readers for a loop when they accidentally type ArticleWriting.com instead of ArticleWriter.com and can't find your website (see Point 5 for the workaround to this problem).
5. Register multiple domain names that sound very similar to yours. To use the ArticleWriter.com example again: take into account those unintended surfing flubs. How likely is it that your future customer is typing a similar phrase into the browser that is actually NOT your domain name, but a hair's distance away? The owner of ArticleWriter.com might also want to register Article-Writer.com, TheArticleWriter.com, ArticleWriters.com, ArticleWriting.com, and any other keyword domain names. Each one should mask the original domain name, so that traffic is redirected to your site in all instances.
6. Register misspelled versions of your domain name. Ever attempt to visit your favorite website, accidentally misspell the name and land on some other site instead? That's a sleazy internet marketer trick that capitalizes on the fallability of the web surfer. You don't want someone else profiting from your customers' accidental typos, so do register a few misspellings of your domain and forward them to your main domain, just as you did in Point 5.
7. Select a domain name that's "catchy yet nonsensical." GoDaddy illustrates this example perfectly. What does "Go Daddy" mean, anyway... and what does it have to do with domain name registering? Absolutely nothing. But it's short, it's a standout, it's been virally marketed to death and it won't soon escape the memory of the target customer. That's what I call domain name branding at its absolute finest!
8. Avoid hyphens and underscores. Better to choose a "nonsense" domain name than one that's littered with hyphens or underscores. Hyphens look dastardly as a logo, and they're soon forgotten by the delirious web surfer. While an active linking campaign can make up for the hyphen handicap in your domain name, the hyphens look sloppy in print and don't viral market well at all.
9. Pick a domain name that represents you well. Your brand starts working around the clock the minute you go live with your website. Therefore, you must be 100% committed to using this domain name because if you decide to tear down the temple, all the people who associate that brand with you will inevitably be lost along with it. A friend of mine changed her domain name and to this day I can't remember for the life of me what the new one is. So, commit to a name you feel proud of, and do everything in your power to establish brand presence.
10. Get a matching tagline. Give your domain name a branding boost - pair it up with one or two clever taglines that state your Unique Selling Proposition in a short, concise sentence or phrase. Alternate using each of these lines at the end of every single one of your blog posts, network forums, email and article sign-offs, and in the top header of your website. The tagline will cement your domain name into your future customer's mind, and that's what you want.
Now that you know exactly how to choose a highly brandable domain name, isn't it time you went out there and registered the perfect one for your future internet business before the competition snaps it up?
Copyright 2006 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.