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How to pick a great brand name (and domain too)

Today we want to share with you our some of our internal company guidelines for picking a new brand name or domain name:

Short names are easy to remember. The shorter the better:

  • 14+ characters – difficult
  • 9-13 characters – normal
  • 8 characters – easy
  • 6-7 characters – easier
  • 4-5 characters – easiest

Available domain name with dot com extension (.com)

  • Dot com is the only domain ending with it’s own button on mobile devices and keyboard shortcut on desktop internet browsers.
  • People automatically assume that a brand must have a dot com domain name.
  • Dot com domain names are the highest priced domains in the aftermarket (auctions)

Single word

  • Single word brands have increased protection against copycats (e.g. “volvo”, “amazon”, “google”, “dell”, “skype”) versus similar domains made up of two words (“microsoft”, “microworks”, “softworks”, “macrosoft”, etc.)

No digits or hyphens

  • Having a digit in a brand makes the brand automatically prone to misspellings. If you are picking a domain name with a word which means a digit, your users are most likely to pick “NineLives.com” versus “9lives.com” when typing. Common practice is to acquire domain names with all possible misspellings.
  • Domain names with hyphens ( – ) are highly disliked by customers and are more difficult to type in on mobile devices. Little or no possible misspellings Avoid double letters or similar sounding vowels, those make your brand prone to misspelling. For example word “Cappuccino” can be written like “capucino”, “cappucino”, “capuccino”, “kapuccino”, “kappuccino”, “kapucino”, etc. The best names are the ones which can be told verbally to someone and that person would know how to spell it correctly. Please note that word pronunciation also differs greatly by region.

No similar registered trademarks

  • Avoid future trademark collisions within the same business category by looking for previously registered names with the same word root in EU (via Madrid System) and US (USPTO) trademark databases.

Brandable -or- highly descriptive

Brandable

  • The perfect brandable domain would not include direct references to your industry, return no search results related to your target industry, and would be catchy and easy to remember.
  • Brandable names are great for early stage startups with fluctuating business model or idea, which might change in the future.
  • Name will only be connected with a particular industry only as much as you invest in marketing it. For example: “Google.com”, “Ebay.com”, “Etsy.com”, “Foursquare.com”.
  • Greatest chance to establish a “household name”.

Highly descriptive

  • The perfect descriptive name explains the essence of your business within the name: For example: “Email.com, TripAdvisor.com, HotelTonight.com”

No negative search results in search engines

  • Important to search for the name and make sure that it does not associate with any famous surnames or brands as well as slang, criminal activity, discrimination, erotic or pornographic content.
    Check both text and image results.

No previous owners

  • Domain name should not have previous active owners for at least 3 years.

Domain hacks

  • In rare cases there might be a domain name combination called “domain hack” where domain name extension is the ending of the brand name. Examples: “scoop.it”, “click.it”, “buy.it”, “where.at”,”rad.io”
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