Lesson 9: Choosing Your Domain Name
by Bob Baker
While you’re mulling over the three types of brand names discussed in Lesson 8, you must also consider how that name will work in tandem with a domain name — a particular Web site address that you register and own for as long as you want it.
I cover the specifics of how to register a domain name and set up your own Web site in Chapter 5 of “Poor Richard’s Branding Yourself Online.” But for the purposes of the current lesson, we discuss the importance of choosing a domain name that compliments your brand name.
If a friend tells you about a great new Web site or if you read about a site you can’t wait to visit, what happens the next time you sit down at your computer? You type in the Web address, the same way your fans will when they start hearing and reading about you.
Therefore, your domain name should have the following two qualities:
- It should be easy for people to hear and know immediately how to spell.
- It should be easy for people to remember after seeing it in print or on a computer screen.
Those qualities may seem simple, but they’re not. Australian Charles Cave has an excellent, highly regarded site devoted to creative thinking skills called Creativity Web. The site’s only drawback is its Web address: ozemail.com.au/~caveman/Creative/.
No matter how much someone encouraged you to visit his site, what are the odds you’d remember (or even accurately write down) the full URL? Sure, you could probably remember “Creativity Web” and enter those words at a search engine and most likely find it; but why put your prospective fans through so much work?
Make your domain simple, easy to remember, and simple enough to type accurately into a Web browser.
Is Your Favorite Name Available?
If you’re wondering whether the domain name you have in mind is available, surf to Network Solutions. Enter the name you’re considering and the site will let you know immediately whether the name is available as a .com, .net, or .org.
Here are two types of domain names to consider:
- Your exact name or business name if your name is Carla Hall, the ideal Web address for you would be carlahall.com. In fact, that was the domain name registered by singer-songwriter Carla Hall to promote her career. My music marketing newsletter is called The Buzz Factor. It’s an ideal phrase to describe the promotional “buzz” I help musicians create over their music. Therefore, I registered thebuzzfactor.com. My readers are already familiar with the term, so it was easy for them to remember my Web site address and find me.
- Your slightly altered name or business name you may find that the domain name you want is already registered, or perhaps the brand name you’ve chosen doesn’t lend itself to being a memorable Web address. For instance, even though David and Tom Gardner have registered motleyfool.com, the URL they aggressively promote is the shorter fool.com. There are just too many ways to misspell “motley” to rely on motley fool alone. When I first looked into registering my name, I found that http://www.bobbaker.com/ was already being used by a Chevrolet dealer. However, bob-baker.com (with a hyphen separating the first and last name) was available, so I grabbed it.
You should also think about the way that brand names stick in people’s minds before making final brand and domain name decisions. One mistake Internet entrepreneurs make is choosing a generic name that reflects the entire category, such as QualityLandscaper.com. The problem is that all people who specialize in this field promote themselves as quality landscapers. Nothing about that name stands out and triggers a distinct mental association.
Look at some of the more established Internet brands. The most recognized search directory isn’t SearchDirectory.com; it’s Yahoo.com. The most popular online bookstore isn’t OnlineBookstore.com; it’s Amazon.com. The most established job site isn’t BigJobSite.com; it’s Monster.com.
There’s no denying these sites have used advertising and publicity to etch their brand names into the public consciousness, but their wise choice of brand names did half of the marketing work.
What do Yahoo, Amazon, and Monster have in common? They are simple, familiar words that are applied out of context to an online presence. It appears to defy logic; but using an obvious category reference in a name usually doesn’t work as well as a name that’s simple, clever, and unexpected.
Here’s the bottom line: Use your own name as a first choice; but if you must use a separate company name, stay away from generic phrases.
In the 10th and final lesson, we cover simple steps you need to take to launch your online branding assault.
This workshop is based on Bob’s book “Poor Richard’s Branding Yourself Online: How to Use the Internet to Become a Celebrity or Expert in Your Field” (Top Floor Publishing). Download two chapters free and find out more about the book at BrandingYourselfOnline.com