Making Brands

In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure.
— Seth Grodin, entrepreneur & author

Domains are Brands

The quote, just above, is part of the new branding discussion now. What is a brand, to begin with? A brand is the total picture that people summon up about your business or company, what they will report that you are. Therefore, your brand is not merely your identity, name and logo; it begins there, but it is more: it includes the total you’ve managed to communicate across to your customer. What they have perceived.

You build your brand daily, in your website, your name, your business practices and behavior, your products and prices, your mailings and email, your ads, your calls, your employees and their behavior. If you have a physical business as well, the physical premises and all its doings form part of it as well.

We of course are focused on the online interactions, especially the name. Brand names have been very different in recent years. In the beginning, businesses created websites that were not much more than information pages, topped by their business name, then some description about them. Many didn’t even bother having an interactive website, it was often a directory page simply there to look up and see what their address, phone, and type of business was.

Then real online stores and online ordering connections appeared, which still tended to use the company name or one close to it. Then came generic domain names: A one, two or three-word general domain that described your main product or service was finally seen as a valuable commodity. Later, the world online began to consist of niche markets, and generic terms were sometimes not as descriptive as these businesses needed. They sought narrower audiences.

Now, the generic domains (and even Exact-Match Domains) are surrendering to online brands. A memorable name may be better to have than a domain that is a description of your product, because the way recommendations are shared across social media networks means your name needs to get out there. You don’t want all those Facebook people going to Google and running a broad search again; they will come up with results other than you and the traffic gets dispersed.

You need a great name. Probably a short one. And contrary to the recent past, it doesn’t even have to “pass the radio test.” Now, it matters more if the name can be READ. Names such as Tumblr and Flickr don’t pass the radio test, and they don’t have to. We see those names all the time, and know just who they are. The internet is a medium that is read, first.

The Gaming Domain

A name that can be said as a word is the easiest to turn into your brand. After that, a domain of letters that have a rhythm when spelled out are the next easiest. But if it must be spelled out, it needs to be very short.

Can you have a name that is 4 letters that don’t make a pronounceable word but people still remember? If the letters are easy to say, yes. Examples —,, Or if a visitor can remember what they stand for or look like, yes. Example —, Four letters may be a limit to people’s patience in what they have to remember. Fortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to saying letters out loud for radio and TV stations, and many businesses. Acronym brands (which use the first letters of a company’s longer name) will seldom be more than 4 or 5 letters. Examples — BP, IBM, ESPN, ALCOA. Notice that once the name reaches 5 letters, it’s far more likely to need vowels and be sayable as a word.

Ways to help a non-pronounceable domain get recognized

1. Determine how you want it to be pronounced, and send that message. could be said as “Crave.” Use the dictionary word in the text here and there on your site pages so the visitor recalls it.

2. Assign the letters to words. might become a site title such as “Rabbit Nurse and Doctor Zebra” or “Radio Nerds Dial Zero,” or the “Right-Next-Door Zone.”

3. Make your logo do the work.
Make so visually pleasing it gets remembered. Remember EXXON? Its signs stand out in the night, and its connected Xs make a Cross of Lorraine.

4. Divide and conquer: Split your name into 2 parts and title your page in a way to help the visitor remember. might be: “CZ Execute.”