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Which domain is better for your business: Brandable or Descriptive?

Paige Omandam
Feb 5, 2020

Gone are the days where word-of-mouth was enough to get your business off the ground. Having an online presence is essential to your business's success, and that starts with registering a domain name. Your domain name acts as your online storefront and is crucial in how your customers find and interact with you. One of the biggest challenges in the branding process is finding a unique name for your company brand that is also available as a domain name. We're here to guide you through the process of choosing between a descriptive or brandable domain and how to navigate your domain name search.


What is a brandable domain name?

Branding

Brandable domains do not explicitly describe a company's product. These names are often made-up words, re-creations of existing terms, references to historical figures or mythology, or wordplay. For inspiration, here's how a few of the most recognizable companies in the world came up with their company name:

  • Lego's name comes from the Danish words "leg godt," which means to "play well."
  • The first AirBnB was hosted by its founders, who turned their home into a "bed and breakfast" with a few air beds in their living room, inspiring the company's name.
  • Bill Gates named his company Microsoft to represent its dedication to Microcomputer Software.

These catchy business names are unique without straying too far from the brand's mission or services. They evoke certain feelings about the brand from the get-go that resonates with customers. However, brandable domains can also succeed without having any meaning at all, such as "Starbucks" or "Apple." While they don't give any hints, the quality of their products has helped them to become household names.

Brandable domains come with several advantages. It's much easier to acquire a trademark for a name that is one-of-a-kind. If it's too similar to an existing business or common terms, you may run into legal trouble. This is easily preventable by searching your desired name online and running a trademark check not only in your country but also around the world. Brandable domains can also withstand any changes that may occur with your business. A name that is too specific may restrict you later if you expand your offerings or change the direction of your company. With a name you can grow with, there is no limit to your potential.

What is a descriptive domain name?

A descriptive domain clearly describes a business's services or products. A few examples of these types of names are "Whole Foods" or "General Motors." The benefit of these types of names is that customers can determine what type of company they are right away without having to decipher the meaning of your brand name. One downside is that they lack the personality that brandable domains have and are not as memorable. You're more likely to remember "Nike.com" than "AthleticShoeStore.com."

Brandable Domains vs. Descriptive Domains

Brainstorming

Which type of domain is better for your business, brandable, or descriptive? There are many factors to consider, including your marketing strategy, audience, and growth potential. During your brainstorming sessions, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this domain name still be relevant to my business in the long term?
  • Is my domain name my lead branding tool?
  • Which is a more critical part of my marketing strategy, search results, or brand awareness?
  • Do my main competitors have a descriptive or brandable domain, and what strategies are they using?

However, one of the most important things to consider is how well your name will translate as a domain name.

How well does your name translate as a domain name?

Just as brandable names are more convenient to trademark, they are also easier to find available as a domain name. Descriptive domains may be harder to find available because of their SEO value. Since they contain common keywords, they are more likely to show up in search results. Our domain name suggestion tool is particularly helpful in finding and recommending these types of domains, such as VisitNewYorkCafe.com or UsedBoatRental.com. Another aspect to consider is accessibility. If a customer heard your company's domain name audibly, such as on a podcast or radio, would they be able to search for you online successfully? The last thing you want is to lose a customer simply because your name was too difficult to decipher. Having a brandable domain with difficult spelling and pronunciation may be a disadvantage in this case.

Which TLD is best for your brand?

After deciding on a descriptive or brandable domain, your domain extension is your next big decision. It's instinctive for most people to add .COM at the end of a URL since it's the most commonly used TLD, however, there are many other domain extensions to consider.

  • .NET - Besides .COM, .NET is one of the most recognized domain extensions on the web since it established in 1985.
  • .CO - A great alternative to .COM, .CO is short for "company" and gives the same reach as .COM, so you don't have to worry about it affecting SEO negatively.
  • .ORG - If your business is a non-profit, foundation, institution, or has a charitable mission. .ORG is an excellent choice.
  • If it makes sense for your brand, consider less common TLDs such as .STORE, .SITE, or .CLUB.
  • Are you looking to target an audience from a specific geographic location? Use ccTLDs such as .US, .EU, .IN, .MX and more.

Once your business becomes more established, you may also want to register your brand name with other domain extensions to redirect to your main site. This will prevent squatters or scammers from registering your brand name under other TLDs to take advantage of customers that may input the wrong domain extension.

Where should I start my domain name search?

Computer search

You can approach your domain search two ways: You can brainstorm the name yourself and check if it is available as a domain name, or you can search for registered or expired domains that have the potential to be brandable. There are many online resources available to aid in your domain search, such as brand name generators and third-party domain resellers. Resellers will often create a portfolio of potentially brandable domains and put their domains for sale for a fixed price or to the highest bidder.

If you've brainstormed a name and find that it is unavailable, you can do a WhoIs lookup to find out who owns the domain. If the owner has domain privacy, it may only show the registrar's information. However, you can still contact the registrar to forward a message to the owner inquiring about the domain. If you're lucky, they may be willing to sell it to you.

Dynadot's aftermarket is another useful place to search for your next business name. Users can buy and sell domains in the domain marketplace, bid on domains listed by other users, and catch domains as they become available. The aftermarket is a great way to discover and register brandable domains with ease.

No matter if you choose a brandable domain or a descriptive domain; we're here to help you get online. Register your domain name with Dynadot today and get a free one-page website to help launch your online presence.


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