Location, Location, Location

Location, location, location.

The famous “three things to consider” when making decisions about real estate are just as important to online property. In many cases, the domain name is as crucial to brand communication as the brand name itself. In the crowded landscape of web addresses, however, having your pick is rarely an option. Hence the need for creativity, and foresight, and of course compromise. It also helps to know which domains to buy, both before and after you’ve seetled on a website address.

A domain has to be relevant to a brand or person, easy to use for the target audience, and sufficiently distinctive in a websearch context. Often, it also needs to play nice within a category or portfolio of other domains. Overwhelmingly, the target domain will not be available in the optimal format (such as brandname.com). When that happens, there are options.

Solution One
Go with a second-choice extension (brandname.com.pl or brandname.co, for example).

Solution Two
Tack on a descriptor (brandnameselutions.com).

Solution Three
Color outside the lines (wearebrandname.com, brandnamemakesadifference.com). Despite the shock these types of suggestions sometimes elicit from clients, it’s worth noting that websites are usually located through links, not as a result of direct URL entry. In fact, rich branding opportunities lie in clever deployment of this type of strategy.

Solution Four
Really go for it and let an extension carry the last part of the name (brandna.me). Keep in mind that this might confuse people (What’s a brandna? Are they really in Montenegro?), but don’t dismiss the amazing brand communication potential unique to this unconventional workaround.

Domain purchasing for an existing business or product is straightforward. Make your choice, click to buy. While you’re at it, maybe buy up the stray domains on the list of runners-up. If you have the budget for it, it’s better to take them off the market than face a threat of brand confusion or negative associations from a competitor or an unsavoury site with a too-similar address down the line. Once these second-tier domains are yours, you can also load them all up to redirect to your website.

When naming a new brand, however, the dilemma whether to buy may come up often—even with regard to every name under consideration, sometimes in multiple variants. Shortlisted names are of course often viable only if they correspond to available domains, so it makes sense to make purchases “just in case” during the naming process. But paying the yearly rent on multiple domains gets expensive, so how do you make the choice what to buy?

Purchasing a domain the minute you see it is a good idea when it’s a relatively short free-standing name with a classic extension, such as .com or .org. (In Poland, .pl, .com.pl, and .eu are this list, too.) In cases of longer domain names that include a descriptor (like celadonhotel.com), buying in a hurry isn’t necessary. Here’s the basic rule: if you were shocked the domain was available, click to buy now. Otherwise, its risk of disappearing quickly is minor.

As a namer, I’ve seen firsthand how virtually every naming project is severely restricted by domain availability. I like to be able to guarantee certain name-domain combinations, so I’ve cautiously taken to parking them myself. This is not a cheap investment, but it benefits me in two ways: one, I’ve got a few rare commodities up my sleeve, and a few winning names in my pocket; two, knowing how the domain-buying process works gives me an edge when I’m working on new names.

I tend to snap up short names with classic extensions and brand name potential in multiple categories—these are the ones least likely to stick around. (Buying workaround-type domains, as described in solutions 2, 3, and 4, above, is generally always possible and cost-effective only in actual project scenarios.) Some domains I thow back after a year or more, others I wind up supporting for years. Sure, there’s potential for profit from every domain I nurture, but really my goal with this portfolio is less “online shop” and more “tour of the factory.” Join me below to get a sense of my naming style.

Selected domains currently parked by Company of Natalia Osiatynska via Zenbox.pl:

filix.eu / filix.pl
mixterium.com / mixterium.eu / mixterium.pl
orkesto.com / orkesto.pl
oxis.co / oxis.pl