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Names, Brands and Domains

Business Names and Brand Names, from Conception, Require their Own Strategy

This small tutorial is intended for professionals and businesses that require more than tips when tackling the naming and branding convention.

There is little doubt that most will have found us well after having their own business, brand, and domain names secured and in place. Which is why this page is rather irregular from a marketing standpoint. But if our goal is to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed and thrive, then we need to be honest, it all starts with your name, a business plan, and a marketing strategy based on that plan. Do the name right, the rest will be easier.

Name Choice

As stated throughout this website, and most likely in person as well, "Branding is Everything." Everything you do is branded by the community you serve to become your business reputation. But you do have control over your brand from the outset, and you can use that as an advantage to leverage your brand in a positive light from the get-go.

So, even from your own conceptualization of your business, there are things to consider before you even come to us.  The business name alone is a huge hurdle.  Choosing a good one can give you a leg up.  There are many options for this, often people are using their surname(s).  But do consider whether or not a name is easily communicated.  Schmidt is an easier name to communicate than Schmitlaf.  This is just a simple example, but if this is your name, do your friends call you Smitty?  Smitty is the easiest of all to communicate.

The radio test is a simple way to address how easily a name is communicated, you don't have a TV text to lean back on. If you say a business name out loud, what are the people around you hearing? Often, even lyrics are misunderstood. One great way to find out is to use the telephone to communicate your business name ideas to friends and see if they get it, or not. How hard is it to communicate your nbame idea? If you have to spell it out, or otherwise explain it, that name fails the test. 

There are other little flaws in naming conventions that encourage mental lapses.  The most important example is that people often misspell phrases when they run into a repeating series of paired letters. Freindliest

The Business Domain Name

Once you are starting to zero in on a name idea, you have to take in consideration the limits of technology. If your business name is too long, you may not even want to consider using it as a domain name based simply on the fact that people are just too lazy, and most do not even like to type a long domain name into the web browser bar.

According to common premium domain name guidelines, a company name, brand or slogan should not be used as a domain name if it is over 16 characters long. Yet, you don't want to use anything longer than 20 characters, for sure. Because the longer a domain name is, the more opportunity a falible human has to mispell it. This is further compounded by the fact that spellcheckers are often introducing errors with autocorrect.

Certainly, short and simple is the way to go, But that introduces a few other issues we should address. Certainly, the shorter a URL is, the more expensive it can be. For instance, all the single letter (and number) names are long gone, many moons ago. The same can be said for all letter names from single letter domains ( where L stands for a Letter) to 5 or 6 place letter names ( & Those were bought-up by individuals & companies that are intent on reselling them for a profit. 

Notice that the king of all domain extensions in the USA is the .com Top Level Domain (TLD) name extension. Americans often type the .COM version and sometimes slip-up and enter it anyway when they are supposed to type a different extension (and there are many alternatives to the .com to choose from). In other countries, the best name to have is usually a country coded Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for the specific geo location served (.DE for Germany/Deutschland, .UK for United Kingdom, .ES for Spain/EspaƱol, and .EU is acceptible for the Euro trading parts of Europe). 

Number names should not be overlooked if you can swing it, but few names or domains will work well (an area code for an area magazine is a good idea, but these opportunities are extremely limited).

There may be some 5 or 6 letter domain names still available, but these are rare and likely will have problem letters unless you are ready to pay up for a premium name. The general concensus among aftermarket domain name resellers (often referred to as "domainers") is that the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T are considered premium letters. The other letters include lesser high quality choices: J, K, U, V, W. While the lowest quality letters include: Q, X, Y, Z. However, if your full business name has a 'lower quality' initial in it (Q can stand for Quality, after all), the good news is that such a 'premium' (a domain already registered and either used and developed or held before resale). But even though these may become available, will they really address your need?

Before moving on though, I have to make an important point.  Due to marketing, and the current climate of lies (not just in politics), poor business practices becoming the norm, and simply just lame excuses, many 'aftermarket' registered domain names are remarketed as 'premium' domain names when they are not. Most of the 'premium' domain names available are, without the slightest doubt, stupid crap names. A premium domain name is a generic name or a (potential or current) brand name that already has value as a positive or well sought name, even if it does not yet have a website. And if a 'premium' domain does actually have a developed website (and not just a page taking traffic stats), it should be looked first as a name, then later you can take into account the value of the traffic it may or may not have, if that traffic is from the community you are willing to serve (and not Russia or China, unless that is your target market). If it was being used as a porn website and your business is children oriented, you may as well look for a different name, write that potential disaster off, completely.

It has to be said that Symbiotic Design, under the Symbiotic Technologies banner, manages a dozen or so web hosting sites that partner with domain registrars for domain registrations, transfers and sometimes even domain backorders. It was important that when Doug started the business he took back control of his names (the branded domains were actually held hostage by "Network Solutions", AKA: "Verisign".

Unfortunately, some of these partner registrars have taken it upon themselves to stap their 'white label' reseller partners in the back and show crap aftermarket domain names mixed into the domain name search results despite our strong and unwavering protests. Just because a name is registered or is marketed as a premium domain does not make it so. Don't drink that koolaid, it will make your business sickly.


There are plenty of ways to go with names, and especially domains.  If you have a law firm under the name Kutak, Rock, Campbell, Novak & Peters maybe is available, but do not get, it is just too long. In cases such as this, think about what your potential client might search for at Bing, Yahoo or Google when he or she needs a lawyer? or would be excellent for a lawyer in Omaha, Nebraska. would be good for a law firm on the westside of New York City, as it only has 14 characters, and it's easily understood when communicated.  Perhaps it isn't available, but this example assists a search engine in geolocation and therefore may more readily present that website a little sooner than another when someone is searching for "lawyer NYC westside".

More likely, a person is going to be searching for a criminal, accident, divorce, will, patent, banking or rights lawyer. So don't be ashamed of any label you can own. I know, labels are not ideal, but they are words and some become keywords. What keywords would your ideal client use to define what you offer? I live in Sioux Falls, SD.  If I didn't already have Symbiotic Design (which itself is a challenge to promote because so few know how to say or spell it), I might try

Unfortunately, a majority of the domain names you lookup (at Domain Hostmaster or Domainance, I hope) will be taken. Some names are registered, but still available for sale as a 'premium' domain, at a ridiculous price.  Most of these are the 'dot com (.com) Top Level Domain (TLD) name extension. But in the US, this is the definitive domain extension.  

There are others available.  Right now (as of this writing), there are 392 common Top Level Domain (TLD) extensions, and 89 international TLD extensions available for registration at Domain Hostmaster.

.COM is the king, and I highly recommend it as your preferred choice, but there are so many appropriate alternatives now that the .COM name space is saturated, it might be a decent alternative.  

That said, there are real premium domains available, but because there are so many pitfalls to the aftermarket sales route, I highly recommend getting a domain broker, or at least using a reputable domainer as a guide.  I do offer such services, but I still use other brokers and aftermarket catalogs to navigate through all the crap domains that there are out on the market today, as well as getting professional appraisals to find a fair price point in negotiations.

Your Business/Brand Name May Not Make the Transition to Domain Name

There can be quite a few challenges in grabbing the right domain name.

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