What’s the difference between BestGardenGrills.com and CharJunkies.com?
Well, a lot, obviously.
One of them is a literal description of the site it is an address for, while the other could be a brand.
Can you imagine a “Best Garden Grills” T-shirt or poster? No, me neither. It’s simply descriptive. A good brand name, on the other hand, is creative. It captures the imagination of your customers.
Unfortunately, many site owners think of their startup or small business domain name as just an address but it’s much more crucial than that. Your domain name is a huge part of your brand. It's the face of your brand—in the form of a URL.
And guess what? Once you’ve picked one, you’re kind of stuck with it!
Choosing the right domain name is pivotal for proper branding so it must be done right especially when building an income-generating and potentially flippable asset.
So, creativity is a big part of a brandable domain name. You aren’t just stating what your site offers. You’re creating a thoughtful, repeatable, memorable brand.
The good news is, this opens up many avenues in terms of combining words and concepts and finding domain names that are still available and of good value.
Bear in mind this process is not a quick fix. Brainstorming a great brand name and the domain name can be a bit tough. But I’m all about facilitating good business decisions. In other words, I’m here to help!
Here are the definitive steps that will help you choose the perfect domain name for your income-generating asset. We’ll start with types of brandable domain names as understanding them is totally essential to working out what makes sense for making your business work.
Types of Brandable Domain Names
Brandable domain names come in a few different flavors. An easy way to brainstorm names is to pick one of the following styles and choose various names that fit it. If one style isn’t working, move on to the next!
1) Keyword-based (descriptive) brandable domain names
Of course, you can base domain names on keywords related to your chosen industry or niche but the issue with this type of brandable domain name is that an awful lot of people will have had the same bright idea!
Also, not every kind of keyword-based domain name is a decent choice for building a brand. For example, there are exact match domain names:
Historically, you could have an exact match domain (EMD) name to rank faster to the top of Google search for your targeted keyword(s). But this isn’t the case anymore, as in 2012, Google started reducing the weight on EMDs.
Minor weather report: small upcoming Google algo change will reduce low-quality "exact-match" domains in search results.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) September 28, 2012
And in 2016, Google actually went harsh and implemented penalties on sites that were using exact match domains for spammy activities.
It's funny you say that! I was hunting for (bad) EMDs for the past two weeks without much luck 🙂
— Gary 鯨理／경리 Illyes (@methode) November 25, 2016
Of course, there’s no problem in using the exact match domain names and they still play an important role in certain cases especially in the local SEO. But when you want to build a flippable authority site, don’t do it. It’s a BIG no.
There are serious reasons behind, they:
- Look spammy
- Cap your potential growth
- Scream as a typical “affiliate site” so you would likely struggle in getting links naturally and even through other link building methods
- May prevent you from getting approved into other affiliate programs
- Higher chances for keyword stuffing in meta-data, URL, and content unless you follow the best practices to avoid them.
- Brand name will likely get exact match keyword rich high-risk anchor text backlinks like “casino,” “loan’, “insurance,” etc., which may alarm Google to penalize the site for overdoing.
On the other hand, there are partial match domain (PMD) names that partially include the main keyword you actually try to rank. For example:
PMDs can be acceptable to some extent but not encouraged to choose as a brandable domain name for your authority site.
And what’s surprising? Many exact and partial match domain names have either already been taken or are expensive. Hence, potentially, spending more money on acquiring them (if they are available for sale) but it’s a gamble. So I won’t recommend this.
There are other, cheaper ways to brainstorm a brandable domain name for your money making business.
One solution is to use compound words or portmanteaus (sticking words or half words together to make something new).
Yes, you should be creative but you will appear inscrutable to potential consumers if you stray too far from what your business offers.
Think about who you are trying to appeal to with your brand name and your domain name. What will they respond to?
“Char” is what ties CharJunkies.com to BBQing. Almost everyone understands that connection. It is relevant while not being literal, and that’s exactly what you want.
Wikipedia.com is a clever combination of “Wiki” and “Encyclopedia.”
Netflix.com is a decent combination of “Net” (from word internet) and “flix” (from the word flick, which means the short form of the movie).
Groupon.com is a unique combination of the words “group” and “coupon” which clearly describes that website is a collection of coupons for consumers.
Customer research is your friend.
To make this process easier, and to get inside the minds of your audience, I’d encourage you to head over to BrandBucket. This is a site that lists hand-picked, unique and brandable domain names suitable for almost every niche under the sun.
If you want to know which words should be prominent and what will appeal to your audience, you can search your niche to find keywords. This can be a jumping off point for further spitballing and brainstorming.
BrandBucket will come up with really interesting and creative brand names ideas in your niche. Here are a few examples:
You can try different combinations of words and styles, leaving you with a list of unique and innovative keyword-based brand names for your authority site.
2) Evocative Brandable Names
Evocative brand names often involve emotions or images. Due to their emotional impact, they stick in peoples’ minds.
Evocative brand names bring something meaningful to mind.
North Face is all adventure, Amazon is huge and verdant, and JetBlue evokes blue-sky excitement and relaxation.
When choosing an evocative brand name, think about your audience and the position you want within the market. Don’t think about describing your product specifically, they are rarely evocative.
3) Vessel Brandable Names
Vessel or empty vessel brand names are names with no existing meaning, in other words, they are completely made up. There are obvious pros and cons to empty vessel brand names and domain names.
Firstly, they’re likely to be available, which is massive. Secondly, they have the potential to become as iconic as Yahoo, Instagram, or Google.
And yet, they’re hard to make work unless the rest of your branding (and your product, service or site) is genuinely strong. That’s because they are both tough to remember, and hard to tie to what you offer.
Top Tips for Brandable Domain Name Perfection for Your Authority Site
Take these best practices into consideration to fine-tune a smart and clever domain name for your authority site:
1. Use .com 99% of times, otherwise .net or .org if you can
There are loads of options out there these days for domain extensions. You can even get .pizza, .pro, .co which will probably make your domain name interesting and eye-catchy but they can’t beat the credibility of the .com extension.
It's the most popular extension that's used by 52.3% of global websites that generally people know and trust. It’s the most intuitive and easiest to remember than any other extension out there. In fact, .com is almost a brand itself.
Interestingly, when you tell people about your business, they will naturally assume your website as “business name + .com.” But when you use any non-standard domain ending, it may confuse customers when they try to find your business on the internet.
So, in a nutshell, when you want to build an income-generating asset, .com is your way to go. I would also encourage you to avoid even .net and .org extensions at every possible turn.
However, when you want to build a country-specific business with no plan to expand outside of your chosen country, it’s an excellent and intelligent way to go for country-specific extensions like “.co.uk” for the UK “.ca” for Canada, etc.
2. Brandable over generic
You don’t want to blend into the crowd. That’s quite tough when you’re also trying to stay short and memorable, sure but no one said naming your online business would be easy! Especially if you’re naming a flippable online business. So, avoid generic names if you can.
I mean, what does NiceCars.com mean? Is it selling them? Just showing a collection? A car rental place? Better to come up with a unique brand name that will stick in people’s minds.
3. Avoid gender-exclusive brand names
If you make a site ‘for him’ or ‘for her’ in your site – like brosbbqland.com, you are potentially halving your audience! Once again, don’t think about what your business is now. Instead, think about what it could be. Perhaps you’re catering to a gendered audience at the moment but could that change in the future? Probably!
4. Avoid using a person name as a brand
For really official brands – JP Morgan – or really old brands – Kellogs – a name works. But if you’re trying to build and potentially flip a site, don’t create it around the name of a person or a family. It makes change hard in the future and means you’re often unable to pivot to bring in new business.
5. Avoid double letters
In the latter case up there, Barrysshop is particularly hard to spell because of that double ‘s’ Of course, double letters within a single word are sometimes unavoidable. But As a general rule, avoid double letters whenever you can.
So, FunKnittingPatterns.com is okay – the double letters are natural. But Knitthatpattern.com is harder to remember because the double letters aren’t within a single word.
6. Easy to spell, type, pronounce and remember
There should be some bounce to your domain name. The words should sound good together and should be easy to spell and say.
You can test how memorable a domain name is easily. Just tell a few people your ideas and ask them which they remember a few hours later! Couldn’t be more simple. If something is forgettable, scrap it. Forgettable is equal to non-brandable.
Even better, get them to write it down for you a few hours later. Did they spell it correctly on the first or second try? If not, you might have problems.
Hard to pronounce brand names are also a big no. You want word of mouth to work for you, not against you, and if people can’t tell their friends about this great new site then you’re hurting your own chances.
A name might be forgettable because it’s overly long and complicated – ‘Barry’sbigbigbigboxesshop,’ or too generic, ‘Barry’sshop.’ These are also hard to say.
7. Avoid hyphens and numbers
As well as being hard to remember, hyphens and numbers can make your domain look spammy.
I mean, If you can’t get CharJunkies.com, don’t settle for CharJunkies123.com or Char-Junkies.com. When an idea isn’t working out in finding an available domain name, don’t cling to it at the expense of a clean domain name. Just move on! There are good options out there.
As discussed, people will remember a good brand name. They won’t remember how to doctor it to find the website if you’ve had to create a complicated, messy compromise of a domain name.
The innovator who grabbed CharJunkies.com must surely be a better business mind than you are!
8. Shorter is better
Well, we have talked about how both a brand name and domain name have to be memorable. And what’s not memorable? An entire lengthy sentence! Keep things short and sweet as much as you possibly can.
This worked amazingly well for ASOS, who went for the shorter acronym when they were actually (back in the day) called “As Seen On Screen”. Keeping it simple allowed them not only to be memorable but also to pivot in what they delivered.
9. Think long term over short term (must be a scalable brand name)
Specificity can be the enemy of good branding. You need room to grow. Think about what your business will be (best case scenario) in a few months or years.
For example, If you call your site “WineGlassExperts.com”, what happens if you decide to start investigating highball glasses too? Other glassware? I mean, I’m not sure reviewing glassware is the biggest market out there but you understand my point.
Occasionally, brands get away with being specific. ASOS, for example, used to stand for “As Seen on Screen” – they recreated celebrity outfits. They were all over women’s magazines in the early ‘00s! That feels like a strange dream now that they sell all sorts of brands and even have their own line of clothing.
But you know why ASOS got away with it? They used an acronym. ASOS is now a word in itself. Many brands have also had to change their names and doing so can be a good decision if things aren’t working but make the decision as soon as you can. I mean, sometimes, names are just plain bad.
Famously, Google started as BackRub… can you imagine that becoming a verb like Google has? “I’ll just BackRub that.” I don’t think so. And could they have scaled up? BackRub Calendar, BackRub Chrome, BackRub Books. It doesn’t really have that brandable zing.
So, think about your ideal future. Your name shouldn’t be so specific. It boxes you in and yet it has to reflect what you offer. It’s a real balancing act!
If your brand grows and things are perfect, will the name you’re picking still work? If the answer is yes, definitely then that's the name for you.
10. Make sure it’s not trademarked
Before you move forward to domain registration, make sure you check if there's a trademark already registered to the brand name. To avoid any legal issues, stay away from names that already have trademarks.
11. Use business name generators when stuck
There are plenty of domain name generators out there. Some of my favorites include:
They use both AI and the input of experts to quickly create a list of names specific to your industry and any keywords or ideas you would like to include. There’s no shame in getting the help and name generators can be used as a springboard for further brainstorming.
Ready to Register Your Brandable Domain Name?
According to Siteefy, 252000 websites are registered every day that means many good domains are being registered as you read this article. It's always a smart move to register the domain as soon as you think of a creative idea.
For example, I've had grabbed Rank Ace several months before even started working on the site.
Domain names are cheap and generally available for $9.95 to $12 per year. There are a huge number of sites that will allow you to register a domain name. Usually, you’ll get the domain for 1-3 years for a fixed price and have the renewal after that.
Just in case you don't want to pursue a domain name for your online business, you can let it expire so you won't be charged further anymore.
The basic steps for your domain name registration are:
- Find a trusted site to register a domain name. DreamHost is one of the most popular and cheapest. They also offer free privacy protection that saves you an extra $10 with your domain name.
- Search for your shortlisted domain name ideas.
- Hopefully, you’ll be able to get it! If not, there will be similar suggestions and you’ll have to do a little more brainstorming.
- Purchase your domain name, it’s usually best to buy it for multiple years to avoid the company jacking the price up next year.
The Bottom Line
If a domain name is brandable, it pulls an audience in. It means that even when a site changes ownership and management (aka is flipped) it retains its essence. Brandable names are, essentially flexible. You can create a cohesive brand identity that is hooked into the name and reflected in everything the brand does.
Basically, brandable domain names are unique. They won’t be confused with other businesses and they may evoke emotion in themselves but they also leave room to become deeply connected to the business they are attached to.
Brainstorming is a fun part, it takes time. And you’ll come up with a lot of chaff before you get any wheat but it’s necessary. The more of your team you involve in the process, the more ideas you will generate so try to bring everyone into the brainstorming session.
And remember, the name may not be perfect unless you have thousands to spend on your domain name that’s unlikely. You simply have to weigh up the pros and cons and get a name that will work for you and your business long term.
What's your favorite type of brandable domain name?