We’ve read dozens of books on naming companies over the years. We’ve named several companies, and we’ve helped over one hundred businesses pick or get their company or brand name .com domain name, too. There isn’t a one-size fits all solution, and anything below is really a gross oversimplification of the process, but we do think a few points here will help you out if you’re in this position.

Over the past decade, we’ve learned a few things about buying a domain name for branding:

  1. It’s always going to be cheaper to buy the domain name you want now. Quality domain names, like real estate, appreciate in value. When Frederick Law Olmsted was going around convincing cities, counties, and states to purchase property for parks he always told the city planners that there’s never a better time to buy real estate than right now. Because, in a few years, the same real estate you’re considering now will be more expensive to purchase. And if you leave it to the next generation, it’s going to be far more expensive for them to buy than it is for you to buy it now.
  2. Speaking to quality – and a domain name customers and consumers are going to use – if you’re in the US, get a .com. If you’re in Europe, there are generally better extensions for you if you’re only going to do business within your home country (.de for Germany, .co.uk for England, .fr for France, .es for Spain, etc). A few exceptions exist in mostly Spanish speaking countries where .com was adopted and is used as much or more than their actual country code TLD (ccTLD). All of the other extensions are garbage. We’ve seen .TV, .MOBI, .TEL and several others like them come and go. They never got used by consumers. They were for the most part traded between domain investors. Same with this new crop of TLDs. Even our favorite, .CO, didn’t really take off. Consider what happened when Overstock paid millions for the campaign and tried O.CO. Nothing. They went back to Overstock.com because it was confusing their customers and hurting, not helping, their branding efforts. There is plenty of information out there contradicting us. In our experience, the registrars and registries behind the TLDs are the ones that are pushing this information out the hardest because that’s what they’re selling. .io and .xyz get thrown around a lot during this discussion, just keep in mind, I’ve got 10 years of historical data on my side. Consumers aren’t using the new extensions.
  3. If you want a great domain name for your business, you may have to consider several names before you’re able to put together a deal on the budget you’re willing to spend. This is true even with a company that’s raised a substantial amount of money and for all intents and purposes there is no budget. Even with no budget, there are names that are simply not for sale. We had a client insist that they were going to own Baby.com (a developed website owned by Johnson and Johnson). So, we kept asking, we kept offering, and we kept trying to purchase the domain name for them. When the cease and desist letter arrived from their general counsels office, we were certain that they were squarely in the “no” category, we stopped asking, and we convinced our clients to pick another name.
  4. If you’re on this path, you should retain the services of a broker to help you out. If you pick us, we’ll work with you to freestyle a list of 10, 20, 50, or even 100 names you’d consider for your brand. (Without considering what may or may not be available.) There is never any way to know what someone is going to ask for a domain name. We see prices across the spectrum from surprisingly low to absurdly high – and everything in between. What we do is really quite tedious at times. We systematically reach out and speak to everyone on your potential list to see if the name may be available. It doesn’t matter if the name is owned by a Fortune 20 company – some of those are for sale – or a high net worth individual – some of those are for sale. It also doesn’t matter if there is content at the site. Nothing there – it still may not be for sale. The company may have stopped doing business but the website still looks active – in which case it may be for sale. We’ve found that you never really know until you’ve checked to be sure. And checking can be a difficult process. Our role here is to help you identify the names you’re going to be happy with, identify the owners / decision makers, negotiate on your behalf, narrow the list down to one finalist at a time and make sure you get the domain name at the price you want and that they get the money in what everyone hopes will be a nice smooth transaction.
  5. A word of caution if you’re thinking about going this without a broker. We recommend against it. If you don’t pick us, pick someone with equally strong referrals and completed transactions. A qualified broker will save you time and money. They’ll earn every bit of their fee.

So, if you’re looking to launch a brand or a new company, let us know. We’ll be happy to help you do some brainstorming, throw it all out there, and then start narrowing down the list by seeing what’s for sale and at what prices. And we’ll get you a domain name for your new brand or business.