Originally Posted in July 2016. Updated September 2021.
– Think carefully when choosing your business name!
– Before choosing a name for your business, check to see which domain extensions are available for the names you’re considering.
– Don’t rule out a name just because the domain may not be available!
– Your domain and business don’t need to have matching names, but be strategic with this decision.
If you’re starting a new company or rebranding your existing enterprise, expect to devote a significant amount of time and energy to choosing your business’s name. A name needs to be memorable, easy to pronounce, understood clearly by your target audience, sufficiently unique in your industry, and must accurately communicate your brand’s distinct identity and appeal. That’s a tall order! Finding a name that meets those criteria that will also serve well as a domain name can be even more challenging.
Good domain names are short – ideally, seven characters or fewer – and can contain numbers but no hyphens. They also need to be available for registration; .com extensions are still viewed as the most desirable and serious, although other TLDs are available. Of these, .net, .org, and .gov are the most popular. Industry-specific extensions such as .diamonds or .pizza are rapidly gaining ground, especially as many of these names are currently unclaimed, making them easy and affordable to register.
The Lesson of BigBadCough.com
While matching a business name to a domain name was once thought to be essential, today it’s much less relevant. “About 90% of our clients get it that it is OK not to have the exact same domain name, but the startups, especially, don’t get it,” said Alexandra Watkins in a recent Knowledge@Wharton interview.
Workarounds exist. GlaxoSmithKline, a giant in the pharmaceutical industry, uses GSK.com for their corporate website. When they wanted to promote vaccine use, specifically for whooping cough, they created an entirely new website and used the domain name BigBadCough.com. While BigBadCough.com is slightly longer than the 7 character ideal, it is both memorable and clearly communicates what type of content is being discussed on the website.
Another way to approach the domain name issue is to add location information. BobsPlumbing.com could become BobsPlumbingNJ.com easily enough, and the geographic signifiers can help customers know they’re choosing the right website.
Long story short, there are many factors to consider when naming your business. But don’t let the availability of a .com domain name be a dealbreaker for you. If a name works for you on every other level, there’s a way to find a domain name that will work equally as well!
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