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Discoverable vs brandable domain names

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Choosing the right domain name can be difficult. We’ve touched on Discoverable vs Brandable domain names briefly before, and in this article we’re going to look a little more closely on the differences between these two types of domain name, and what you’ll need to consider before choosing one or the other.

If you’ve been looking online for tips on creating the perfect domain name, you’ve probably come across a variation of the following list. A good domain name should be:

  • Short
  • Memorable
  • Easy to pronounce
  • Easy to spell
  • Not too similar to competing domain names
  • Not somebody else’s trademark

That’s a very useful list, but it’s probably more useful for evaluating a domain name after you’ve chosen it, than it is for helping you to create one.

The first thing to note before you start building your domain name is that unless you’re prepared to spend a lot of money, you can probably forget a domain name on .com, .org or .net that’s a single, real word. Most of those have already been snapped up, either by other businesses or domain speculators. If you’re set on having a single, real word as your domain name, you should consider one of the newer domain extensions (TLDs) – you might get lucky.

On the flipside, if you’re set on having your domain on one of the more established TLDs, then you’re going to have to get creative.

Discoverable vs Brandable domain names

A discoverable domain name is one that will be found by people who don’t know about your website stumbling across it through web searches. They’re descriptive, and made up of a keyword or keyword phrase; something like ‘dublin-fish.com’ for example.

A brandable domain name, by contrast, is one that evokes only a particular brand – your brand! Brandable domain names are often unique, made-up words – like Squidoo.com for example. There are numerous advantages to a brandable domain name – it’s unique to your brand, which will help raise brand awareness, and because it’s unique, it will help your website show up in the top search results for your name.

Which should you choose?

Which type of domain name you go for depends on how you intend to market your business. If you plan to rely on organic search traffic, rather than paid search listings and creating a ‘buzz’ around your brand by getting mentions on blogs and in the media, than you’ll want to go for a discoverable domain name.

On the other hand, if your marketing plan is built around just such ‘buzz’-building, then you’ll want to go for a brandable domain name.

Creating a brandable domain name

Creating a good brandable domain name will take a bit of work, and a lot of creativity. The best brandable domain names are ones that are unique words, but which are connected to the website’s purpose in some way. Think of Flickr.com, for example – it’s a play on the flicker of light that’s essential to photography. Or Zune.com, which is a play on the word ‘tune’.

Compound words – like YouTube – are a great strategy for creating a brandable domain name. You’ll need to draw up a couple of lists of words related to your brand, then get to work pairing them until you find something that works.

Suffixes – another popular way of creating a brandable domain name is to add a suffix to an existing noun. Think of Friendster.com, for example. Because this has been quite a popular way of creating brandable domain names over the past number of years, you might have to get creative with the suffix that you choose, especially if the noun you’re using is a common one. Google ‘list of English suffixes’ and get creative!

Your last choice is to just make up your own word! It worked for Etsy.com, and it could for you, too. This last choice will take quite a bit of imaginative, blue-sky thinking but it does mean that your brand domain name will be totally unique.

Bear in mind when creating your brandable domain name that it should sound good, and trip easily off the tongue. A name like Syncplicity, for example, is awkward to say and to spell, as is something like Sclipo (both now defunct websites). If you’re going for a domain name that evokes your business in some way, make sure it is indeed evocative – the name of the now-defunct website Fairtilizer.com, for example, would lead a casual browser to think it sold some kind of fertilizer; in reality it was a music website!

Main image: Robert Stinnett