Styles of Business Brand Domains Part 2: Purely Generic DomainsPosted: October 12, 2011
In Part 1 of this series covering different kinds of domains for business brands, we covered the purely brandable domains that giants like Google, Apple and Facebook use. In this post, we’ll be going over purely generic/descriptive domains and why they may or may not work for your business brand.
Purely generic domains make up the vast majority of higher tier domain sales that take place. In the top 50 public domain name sales of all-time, only a handful would be considered brandable domains. There are reasons behind this and why businesses use them, but first let’s define what they are.
What are purely generic domains?
A domain that is purely generic depicts a product, service, category, location or other thing with or without some descriptors, meant to match what a potential customer or client is looking for. Unlike purely brandable domains, the intend of a generic domain is spelled out in the name itself, and a visitor to the domain can generally know what to expect the site to be about. While these kinds of domains don’t have a brandable nature, they are often seen as being brandable anyways, especially if they’re visibly used and become popular.
Examples of different types of purely generic domains
- General product, service or conceptual category. Examples: Electronics.com, Law.com, Finance.com.
- General product, service, location or concept. Examples: Phones.com, Attorneys.com, LasVegas.com, Investing.com.
- More precise product, service or concept. Examples: MobilePhones.com, CriminalAttorneys.com, ForexInvesting.com
- Descriptor word + more precise product, service or concept. Examples: CheapMobilePhones.com, DUICriminalAttorneys.com, AutomatedForexInvesting.com
- Abbreviations with a apparent generic meaning. Examples: DVD.com, CRM.com
Reasons to use a purely generic domain for your business
1. It’s relevant, can visually draw in targeted visitors
If you saw the domains Google.com, Apple.com, NewEgg.com and Cars.com for the first time, you would only be able to guess what’s on one of them. If you saw all of those domains and you were looking for cars, you would naturally be drawn to the visually obvious domain Cars.com.
2. Can convey some eliteness and authority, especially true of higher-quality generics
If a fresh consumer booking a hotel room online sees the domain Hotels.com next to a domain like YourHotelAccommodations.com or Hotelzor.com, they’re naturally drawn to the eliteness of Hotels.com and feel like it may be the best simply based on the elite generic name alone. In fact, these tier 1 generic domains get typed directly into the URL bar by people looking for and expecting a quality site about the subject. Type-ins don’t happen as often as they used to and the amount of them goes down with a more precise or descriptive domain, but it illustrates the trust and authority people give to those defining domains.
3. Search engines love a generic name, rank many of them highly for their specific terms
Part of what has continued to drive the generic domain market well after type-ins gave way to search engines is the fact that search engines see generic domains as a sign of the previous two points – relevance and authority. This is what has led to the likes of CreditCards.com ranking #1 in Google for credit cards over Visa, Mastercard, Experian and other much more established much larger credit authorities. That #1 ranking alone gives them an estimated baseline value of over $1 million in traffic every month based on what Adwords advertisers pay – traffic that CreditCards.com doesn’t pay a dime for.
Reasons NOT to use a purely generic domain for your business
1. The better ones cost an arm and a leg
The power of generic domains is no secret, and the fact that there are far fewer generic domains than pure brandable or brandable generics makes them rarer and often fetch higher prices. Twitter.com paid $5,000 for their domain while SalesForce had to pay $2.6 million for Social.com because of its generic nature.
2. A generic name often limits what you can do with it
Insurance.com may be a top tier domain, but you wouldn’t expect to find a search engine, an advertising network, maps, email, a social network…everything that can be found at Google.com, a pure brandable. When you get down to the more descriptive generics like CheapBrooklynCarInsurance.com, there can be a really tiny scope of use for the domain. Consider also that a generic domain will only be effective for the people that can understand them – if you’re looking for worldwide appeal across many languages, a generic domain may not work best.
3. Many generic domains simply aren’t very exciting
This is the flipside argument that was used against purely brandable domains. A law firm may not need excitement and the generic nature of a law domain may benefit the trust/authority they’re looking for. A social gaming site or a phone music app targeted to teenagers may have difficulty with a brand like SocialFarmingGames.com or PopMusicApp.com. Short catchy names have especially started to dominate over generics in these kinds of areas.
In Part 3 of this series, we’ll go over brandable generic domains, a hybrid of the two major styles and widely in use.
At Domainate, we have ample experience with purely generic domains and the other kinds of brand names you may need. We have helped rebrand both startups and multi-billion dollar corporations. Contact us and we can help you determine what would be best for your new business or project.