Find and Buy Your Domain Before Naming Your Company – Always

After coming across an old article in BusinessWeek about domains, I felt compelled to make this point again.

The article illustrates one of the biggest issues with mainstream media – reporting on things they do not understand. BusinessWeek got input from various “experts” to make certain points, one of which said to name your company before searching for a domain for it. If your primary domain isn’t available, you should be able to get a plural, abbreviation, or something with additional words the article indicates.

The fact is, even over 4 years later with tens of millions more domains registered, someone could follow this strategy based on some examples they give. One of their examples is a Santa Barbara mortgage company going with SBMrtge.com. That domain is in fact still available, illustrating that this strategy could still be used.

But it’s not a good strategy at all.

As the continued availability of SBMrtge.com would indicate, some variations of a name are simply never worth getting. Dissecting that name a bit, “mrtge” is an abbreviation that is sometimes used in the mortgage business, but actual mortgage customers would never use it. “SB” would sooner be assumed to mean Small Business vs. Santa Barbara.

More importantly, even if the name wasn’t bad, you would cause confusion by having a domain that doesn’t match your company name. Some businesses manage to make it work but usually they need huge positives in other areas to make up for the domain mistake.

Many businesses that do see success with a non-matching domain, or a matching non-.com wind up buying the matching .com later. You might think “no harm done” in that case but often they buy the name at a premium. The moment a business becomes popular, any domain it would be expected to buy shoots up in price.

For example, FB.com would have expected to fetch a low-mid 6-figure price before Facebook was huge. Facebook bought it after they became huge however and spent $8.5 million on it. So they could have saved $8 million if buying it early on AND could have had the 4+ years of benefits of having it if they did.

So that’s best-case scenario – you get a non-matching name, see success anyways and end up paying a premium for the domain you should have gotten to begin with.

The worst case scenario is far more common however: You get the non-matching domain and from the start you simply don’t gain traction with it. Typically with doing this, you end up with a bad name even if it did match your company name, so that combined with the non-match holds you back. You don’t get taken seriously and you don’t end up standing out. Ultimately it can help cause your business failure.

Which brings me to my other point that this BusinessWeek article initially gets wrong – focus on getting the right domain, not simply an available domain. The focus on limiting your domain expense to registration fees will limit your business all the same.

If you open up to spending some more to get the right name, then getting the domain first doesn’t limit your business name options that much. You can get a great domain, use the matching business name and help your business start off strong. Making the right moves can help you avoid the need for luck. If you choose your business name first, you’d need to be lucky for the matching domain to be available to buy or register.

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One Comment on “Find and Buy Your Domain Before Naming Your Company – Always”

  1. Sharon Hayes says:

    Reblogged this on Sharon Hayes Dot Com.


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