Of all the myths associated with naming, the bogus rule that insists on a “pure” dot-com domain—a URL that’s an exact match for your company, product, or app name—is perhaps the most wrongheaded and damaging to your naming effort. It’s a zombie rule: a holdover from the late-1990s dot-com gold rush. The rule’s been dead for years, but it still nibbles away at brains.
Yes, you should devote resources (time and money) to your naming strategy. Certainly you should cast a wide net in your creative effort, using lateral thinking to explore metaphorical associations. You should make sure your name is distinctive and appropriate in its market(s). You should protect your name legally through trademark registration.
But rejecting a good name because an exact dot-com match isn’t instantly available? That’s foolish, and bad business.
Gradually, company founders and marketing directors are seeing the light. A recent post about naming on the Buffer blog—Buffer is a social-media-publishing app—includes some misinformation (use “real” words, make it two syllables, yada yada). But it does contain one piece of near-wisdom:
3. The domain name doesn’t matter
I see many, many founders limiting themselves with the domain name. One thing I’ve learned and embraced with naming my own startups is that the domain name doesn’t matter at all. The name itself matters much more than having the same domain name. Pick a great name, go with a tweaked domain name.
I don’t agree that the domain name “doesn’t matter at all.” It’s a brand asset, and I encourage clients to consider buying a for-sale domain if they have the budget for it. Many aftermarket domains are available for less than $2,000.
But I do endorse the “tweaked domain name” part. If you’re able to legally own your name in your trademark class(es)—a very big, very important if—and you can’t buy the pure domain, I urge you to break the zombie rule. Your URL does not have to be an identical twin; rather, it can be a helpful sibling—and an opportunity to build your brand.
Here are some examples of what an impure domain can do: