Google is one of the most well known online brand names – indeed it is one of the top brands of any business. Yet the name is wrong…! The correct spelling is “googal” – the mathematical name for the number of items the founders of the company were hoping to index. But in spite of the incorrect spelling, the name “google.com” is one of the most recognized and used in the world.
Facebook, started out as “facemash.com”, almost certainly for the better. Twitter is what birds do, of course. And few people would ever have dreamed of going up the Amazon to get a book. Many well-known online brands use domains which fail to really tell us what they do – yet we know and love them.
But you have to ask yourself why is it we love to buy books from a domain name which actually represents the name of a river? Or why we are prepared to adore a search engine whose owners clearly cannot spell? It is because they are massive brands and they have built those brands almost entirely OFFLINE. Massive public relations campaigns, journalistic articles and media coverage have meant that in the early days of each of these well-known domain names we all heard about them. Indeed, even today you can hardly move in the media without bumping into mentions of Google, Facebook, Twitter or Amazon. The URLs we type in are so well-known we don’t really stop to think how daft they might be..!
For the rest of business – companies that do not have the fame of international brands, or who cannot afford their PR budgets – the domain name they choose matters much more. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, it is about word of mouth. If you want website traffic, your domain name needs to be passed on easily – whether in actual person-to-person word of mouth, or on the likes of Twitter. If your domain name is some seemingly whacky and apparently brilliant piece of nonsense, you might be following the likes of Twitter or Yahoo or Bing, but without their budgets you are not going to get that name to stick in minds.The only domain name you are likely to get to be memorable is one that makes sense. If you offer an accountancy service in Wisconsin perhaps the domain name “wisconsinaccountants.org” is going to make much more sense to people and be more easily remembered and passed on than “swishswishswosh.org” – the “brand” by which you are supposedly known. In other words you need to choose a URL to make it easy for people to pass on.
That also happens to be true for clicks. Recent research shows that when your website name “says what it does on the tin” there are more clicks than for a name which is more abstract. If the domain name you choose for your websites explains what people will get from it, you will get more clicks than you will from a domain name which is abstract and meaningless.
The only way out of that is to follow the lead of the big brands and spend big bucks on massive offline publicity to get brand recognition for your domain name.
Ultimately, getting the branding right for your domain name depends upon understanding exactly what your customers want it to do. Once you know that, you know the domain name to get.
- Common mistakes made when choosing domain names (marketing.yell.com)
- University Spends $3,000 on XXX Domain Names to Save Face (mashable.com)
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+