Domain branding is the process of choosing and using a domain name that amplifies your brand identity. It’s a choice that’s important and could make your brand more memorable than any competition and help potential customers find you first, trust you more and return with ease.
In short, domain branding involves choosing domain names that include your brand or company name while ensuring that you stand apart from the competition. This sounds simple in theory but can be more complicated practice.
Domain names as brand identity
Your brand identity includes your company name, logo, tagline, and other elements that help visually communicate who you are. It's important to spend some time developing these elements, as they will be used consistently across all of your marketing materials.
If your goal is to create loyalty among your customer base, then you'll need to focus on creating a strong emotional connection with your brand. This means developing a unique voice and personality that customers can relate to.
Your domain name is also a key part of your brand identity. It is what appears in your web address or URL (example: mybusiness.inc). Customers can find your website and get to know your brand through knowing your domain name.
Your domain name is the simplest way for someone to stumble upon your business online and for new customers, it is the first thing they notice about your brand, first impressions are important.
What makes a good domain name?
The very best choice of domain name for your business will be:
Memorable – after all, people have to type this into the browser bar or search for you in a search engine. The more memorable your domain name is, the more likely that someone is to type it directly in the browser which is an advantage for you. When you want to open Gmail, you don’t do a Google search for Gmail, you type gmail.com directly into the browser!
But even when doing a search for your company, the person has to select which of the results is you. Having a memorable domain can help them know they’re in the right place rather than ending up on a competitor’s site.
If I told you a nationwide pharmacy had the website drug.dealer, would you ever forget it?
Short – as we said above, people will sometimes type your domain and therefore the shorter the better. Also, the shorter something is, the more memorable it tends to be.
When a domain is long, it can be mistyped. Long domains also don’t confer the same amount of trust as short domains which we intuitively know to be better and more expensive and therefore likely to be a legit company.
Every domain name is one-of-a-kind, which means you can keep your brand identity separate from other businesses.
Consistent with your brand – The best domains are those that amplify your brand. Ideally, if you could get your domain to be an exact match of your company name, that would be the best outcome. It makes intuitive sense that Microsoft own the domain Microsoft.com. This is easy for customers to remember and most people just guess it (correctly).
It can work to use your tagline or a product name as your domain, but bear in mind that not every person out there knows your tagline off by heart. For this reason, we recommend exact-match domains as the best choice.
Consistent with social handles – Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provide an opportunity to reach out to potential customers and build a loyal following.
Choose a domain name that is available as a handle (or username) across all the social platforms you use. This makes it easier for customers to find you and creates a stronger brand identity.
A global top-level domain – You will sometimes see companies using country-specific domains like .us, .uk, .es, .io
The reason they used these is because their desired .com was gone. The problem is that these domains are intended for country-specific businesses. If you were a global multinational, it might make sense to have your Spanish site on an .es domain and your German site on your .de domain. The issue is that these restrict your google rank and search engine performance. It’s better to use a global top level domain like .com or .inc
What are the challenges of domain branding?
Choosing a company name – The first part of the process is choosing a company name, but let’s be honest, this is often really hard. You want to pick something that sums up the enterprise, is unique to you, captures your personality and hints at the end outcome and promise you make to customers.
Not only that, but you have to stand out from the competition and have to find a name that isn’t already registered as a business in your jurisdiction.
Domain name availability – Here’s a little secret you already knew – all the good .coms are gone. Genuine businesses with that name across the world have bought that domain, and if they didn’t, then plenty of scalpers have bought attractive domain names just to sit on them and make a huge profit later. A third of the most highly priced domain names aren’t even in use – they are just owned by people waiting to sell them to genuine businesses.
Going round in circles – You find the perfect company name but then the domain name isn’t available so it’s back to the drawing board. Even if you got both company name and domain name, then if the social handles are taken, it’s still back to the drawing board. Eventually this becomes too much and a sense of urgency leads you to choose a domain with a prefix like hello- or get-
Worse yet, you choose a nonsense name for your business like Flipzee because flipzee.com is actually available. You are literally choosing to name your business a nonsense term rather than communicate who you are.
How to find the best domain name for your brand
Knowing that you optimize your brand strength by choosing a domain that is short, memorable, consistent with your company name and social handles sets you up for success. Now you actually need to do the work of finding the optimal domain name for your brand.
Choosing Domains for an existing company
If your company is established, then your optimal choice will be determined by the company (brand) name and your existing social handles. Brand strength here is achieved by reducing friction. Your customers will appreciate when your web domain echoes consistency with your company name and indeed your social media platform handles.
Your objective is to find a domain consistent with company name and social media handles and to find the shortest and most memorable domain that yields that consistency.
You might find that the ideal .com is taken but there are plenty of other options. There is a domain suggester tool at .inc domains which can suggest the best available premium domains that are short and match your company name.
Choosing Domains for a new company
If you are setting up a new company and you are in the process of defining a brand or company name, then this is the perfect moment to choose domain name.
Ensure that you choose a brand name that has an available company name (check this name is available from the appropriate company registration office of your state/country). Then check the social media handles are available using the free .inc domains social media username checker tool.
At this point, you can use the domain suggester tool to enter your candidate company name and get a list of available premium domains that are short and a great match. At this stage, incredible brand consistency is within your reach.
Domain branding is a way to choose a domain name so that it multiplies and enhances the consistency of your brand.
You want to choose a domain name that is consistent with your company name and social handles. You also want a domain name that is short and memorable.
Using the free social media username checker and domain name suggester can help speed up your research. It’s worth spending the time on defining your brand and including your domain branding from the earliest moment.