Welcome to this lesson on the strategic role of domains for brand reputation. As we continue our journey through the world of domain name investing, we’ll delve into the fascinating interplay between branding, domain names, and consumer perception.
By the end of this article, you’ll realize why domain names aren’t just part of your website URL, but a powerful branding tool that can make or break your online reputation.
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
Understanding the Power of Branding and Domain Names
Let’s take a moment to really dive into the immense power of branding and domain names.
When we talk about branding, we’re referring to the process of creating a unique name, image, or symbol that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. In our digital age, domain names have become an integral part of that branding process.
Consider this; when you hear the name ‘Apple’ you instantly think of sleek design, mobiles, cutting-edge technology, and perhaps that half-eaten apple logo. But where do you expect to find their products online?
Chances are, your mind automatically goes to Apple.com.
It’s not just because it’s logical, but because it’s what we’ve come to expect. You see, Apple has done such a brilliant job with their branding that we instinctively connect the brand with the domain name.
The same applies to other brands too. For instance, if I were to mention Toyota and their new truck, chances are you’d head straight to Toyota.com, even if you weren’t sure whether that’s their actual website.
You wouldn’t think of ToyotaCars.com or NewToyotaTruck.com. No, you’d go for Toyota.com, without a second thought. That’s because their branding has successfully connected their brand name to their domain name in your mind.
This is the power of branding and domain names at work. The two are entwined in our minds, creating a solid link that leads us directly to a brand’s online presence. This connection is crucial in today’s digital marketplace where the battle for consumers’ attention is fierce.
That’s why understanding the power of branding and domain names is so important. It’s not just about having a web address. It’s about creating a digital identity that’s strong, recognizable, and easy for customers to remember and trust.
The Power of Brand Match Domain Names
Imagine you’re trying to find your favorite pizza joint online. You’d probably try to type in ‘[Pizza Joint’s Name.com’ first, right? That’s what we call a brand-match domain name. This is a web address that perfectly matches the brand name.
And let me tell you something. When you manage to find a domain name ending in a dot com that matches exactly to your brand name, it’s like finding a golden ticket in the world of domain investing.
Why are they so sought after?
For starters, they are simple. There’s no need to remember extra words, hyphens, or numbers. It’s just the brand name followed by .com. Simple as that. In a world where our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish’s, that simplicity is invaluable.
Secondly, exact-brand domain names are expected. It’s what most people would naturally type into their browser when looking for a brand online. Like our pizza joint example, if the brand’s name is ‘Cheesy Delights’, people expect to find them at CheesyDelights.com.
Finally, they are incredibly powerful. In the world of digital impressions, an exact-brand domain name is like showing up to a job interview in a sharp suit, polished shoes, and a perfectly knotted tie. It speaks volumes about your professionalism and attention to detail before you’ve even said a word.
You wouldn’t want your online business to be represented by a domain name that doesn’t match your brand name. It might seem like a small detail, but it’s a small detail that has an enormous impact on your businesses success potential.
A well-chosen, exact-brand domain name can make your brand look as put-together as a Vogue cover model, creating a positive and lasting impression that sets the stage for a successful online relationship with your customers.
The Downside of Mismatched Brand and Domain Names
Imagine you’re a pirate on a treasure hunt, but your map leads you to a field of cows instead of a chest of gold. That’s how it feels for customers when your brand name and domain name don’t match.
In the realm of domain names, not every choice is a gem. If your domain name doesn’t match your brand name, it’s like showing up for a job interview in a pair of ripped jeans and an old t-shirt. It’s not the end of the world, but it doesn’t look good.
Let’s stick with our Pizza joint example. As we mentioned earlier, the name of the pizza joint is Cheesy Delights. This is their brand name and that’s how their clients know them. Now imagine if they use the domain ‘BestCheesyPizzas.com’ because they didn’t manage to find the exact-brand domain.
This would make customers scratch their heads in confusion. It’s like expecting to walk into a pizza joint and finding yourself in a sushi restaurant instead. Customers might think this brand is a joke.
This mismatch between brand and domain names can create a sense of disconnect and can make it harder for customers to find you. Instead of leading them straight to your cheesy, delicious pizzas, you’re sending them on a wild goose chase around the internet.
And the worst part of this is that if they get lost, they might end up right in the hands of your competitors.
So, having a brand name and a domain name that match is not just about looking professional, although that’s crucial. it’s about creating a seamless, effortless experience for your customers.
The easier it is for them to find and connect with you, the more likely they are to do business with you, or in our example, to order that pizza and keep coming back for more.
So, while a mismatched domain name might seem like a minor detail, it can have a big impact on your customer’s experience and your bottom line.
In the digital world, every detail matters. So, make sure your brand name and domain name go together like pizza and cheese. It’s a simple way to ensure your brand’s online journey is as smooth and successful as possible.
The Perception of Cheap Knockoff Domains
Think of your domain name as a bag you carry around everywhere you go. If you’re carrying a genuine, high-quality designer bag, people notice. They see the quality, the attention to detail, and it just adds something extra to your image. Psychology, this makes people trust you more.
Now, imagine you decide to save some money and buy a knockoff designer bag. Sure, it’s cheaper, and from a distance, it might even look like the real deal, but get up close, and the illusion shatters. The stitching is sloppy, the logo is slightly off, and suddenly, that bag isn’t adding to your image. On the contrary it’s detracting from it.
That’s exactly what happens when you opt for a cheap, knockoff domain. You might save a few bucks upfront, but it could end up costing you a lot more in the long run.
Customers can tell the difference, and they might pass over your business, because they don’t trust that your brand is reputable enough.
Instead of seeing a brand that’s worth their time and money, they see a sleazy money grabbing enterprise.
Remember, your domain name is one of the first things customers see when they find you online. It’s your digital storefront, your online calling card. Opting for domain name with a hyphen, or extra wording, just because it’s cheaper, or even using one of the lesser known extensions like .biz or .guru, because it’s less expensive, can have a negative impact on how customers perceive your brand.
It’s like greeting your customers in a fancy store while wearing pajamas. It just doesn’t send the right message.
In the end, choosing a domain name isn’t just about cost. It’s about value. It’s about how it contributes to your brand, your image, and the trust customers place in you.
Strategies for Aligning Brand Name, Domain Name, and Email Address
OK, so now that we have emphasized on the importance of exact-brand domain names and the implications of going for cheaper extensions or mismatched domains, let’s talk strategy to your brand with your online presence.
Let’s imagine your brand as a three-legged stool.
Think about it. A stool needs all three legs to be stable. If one leg is shorter or longer, the stool wobbles and might even topple over. It’s the same with your brand. Your brand name, domain name, and email address are the three legs of your brand stool. If one doesn’t match the others, your brand might not stand firm and sturdy in the digital marketplace.
So, the first step is to align your brand name, domain name, and email address. It’s like making sure all the legs of your stool are the same length.
In our pizza joint example, the brand name is ‘Cheesy Delights’, therefore we need to aim for the domain name ‘CheesyDelights.com’ and an email address along the lines of ‘info@CheesyDelights.com’. It’s all neat, tidy, and uniform.
But, what if your ideal domain name is taken? What are your options?
Options if Exact Brand Domain is Not Available
Well, in our opinion, the domain name is such an important aspect of any business strategy in today’s digital landscape, that if you are just creating your brand from scratch, we actually recommend changing the brand name to another one for which you can find the exact brand domain name.
In fact if you follow our business naming process, you will see that in every article we mention that part of the process of choosing a good brand or company name, is to ensure that the exact match domain name is available before settling for the final name.
Now, if your brand name is already established and changing it is not an option, then you could consider adding a relevant keyword to your brand name, just for domain purposes.
A possible idea would be to add the city where you are established in. For example, if our pizza joint was located in New York, we could go for ‘CheesyDelightsNYC.com’.
Alternatively, you could use a different extension instead of the .com that still carries credibility, like .net or .co.
Here are some ideas that our friend David Utke recommends in his YouTube video about exactly this situation.
However, the key is consistency. Your domain name and email address should be clearly related to your brand name. It makes it easier for customers to find and remember you. Going back to our example, we want customers to remember ‘Cheesy Delights’, not to be left wondering whether the domain was ‘BestPizzaPlace.com’ or ‘PizzaHeaven.org’.
In essence, having a consistent brand name, domain name, and email address is like ensuring all the legs of your stool are equal. It keeps your brand standing strong and stable, ready to support the weight of your success. So align your brand, and watch it stand tall.
Real-Life Implications and Examples
OK, it’s time to step out of theory and into the real world. Let’s take a look at how the principles we’ve been discussing play out in everyday life.
It’s a jungle out there in the digital world, but businesses that have successfully aligned their brand and domain names are like the peacocks of the jungle. They stand out, they’re easy to spot, and they’re memorable.
Take Amazon, for example. Their brand name and domain name are perfectly aligned. You don’t go to OnlineBooksStore.com to buy a book, you go straight to Amazon.com. Their email addresses follow the same pattern, such as ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. It’s uniform, it’s professional, and it’s easy to remember.
Now let’s look at real life examples of businesses that don’t have an exact brand domain.
Oscar, a healthcare business, had to settle for hioscar.com as their domain because Oscar.com was taken and being used by the Oscars awards broadcast site.
Consider the case of Nissan, the automobile manufacturer. They don’t own Nissan.com, which is owned by a computer company in North Carolina. Instead, they use choosenissan.com and nissanusa.com.
These are still successful businesses, but their mismatched domain names might have initially led to some confusion or misdirected web traffic.
It’s also worth noting that some businesses who started off with mismatched domains, later made the move (at an exceptionally high cost for them) to acquire their exact brand domain name. For example, Dropbox initially used getdropbox.com but later acquired dropbox.com in 2009. Tesla used teslamotors.com but purchased tesla.com in 2016.
It’s not that businesses with mismatched brand and domain names can’t succeed. But they’re starting with a disadvantage. They have to work harder to be noticed and remembered, and when they grew and became more prominent, most of them ended up buying the exact-brand domain name at a very large premium.
So, the key takeaway here? In the online world, perception is reality. If your brand and domain names are aligned, you’re perceived as more professional and trustworthy. If they’re not, you risk being overlooked or forgotten in the digital crowd.
So there you have it. Domain names are a critical part of your brand identity which help you enhance your business reputation, increase visibility, and establish trust among consumers.
In short, your domain name is not just an address, but a powerful branding tool, an extension of your business, and a cornerstone of your online reputation.
If you take anything from this lesson, remember, don’t skimp on the domain name. It’s a small price to pay for a reputation that can steer your business to success.
That wraps up this lesson. In our next lesson, we’re going to delve into the importance of choosing the right keywords for your second level domains.
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