Tips for Choosing a Catchy Domain Name

How easy was it for you to come up with a name for your business? If you’re lucky, a great name popped into your head before you were even sure you were going to start a new business at all. From there, everything was smooth sailing and you didn’t have to think twice about what to call it.

But for the not-so-lucky among us, choosing a business name can be a mind-numbing process. Maybe you’ve considered dozens of combinations, and yet you feel like there is an elusive name just out of reach. It’s such a common problem that there are people who create entire businesses around helping other companies create clever names for their parent organization, brands, and products.

If choosing your business name was a struggle, you may not be happy to hear that choosing a catchy domain name involves a similar process of brainstorming and introspection.

But the good news is that you already have a business name from which to jumpstart your domain name brainstorming efforts. And better yet, you can use an automated, free tool like Nominus to generate some additional ideas.

Once you have some options, how do you decide which is the best?

A good domain name accomplishes the following:

  • It evokes an image or idea: Like a good business name, a domain name should hint at (or spell out in no uncertain terms) what the user will discover on your site. Or, the name should make the user feel a certain way. If you run a site that publishes inspiring stories, a good domain name will have a positive connotation, for example.
  • It can be spelled after hearing it once: Stay away from homophones! If you’d like your site to benefit from good old-fashioned word of mouth marketing, it needs to be spelled exactly as it sounds. Avoid using commonly misspelled words, or you might end up buying a second domain name (the misspelled version) to redirect traffic to the correct site.
  • It can be pronounced after reading it once: If you followed the “can be spelled after hearing it once” rule, this one should be easy too. Users who aren’t sure how to pronounce the name of your site may have a more difficult time remembering how it was spelled. Avoid tongue twisters, foreign words, made up words, and jargon.

You will be sending visitors to this site for years to come. Do yourself a favor, and make sure that your chosen domain name meets the above requirements. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating potential visitors.

The Role of a Domain Name in Marketing Campaigns

Modern audiences don’t have long attention spans. The average person sees plenty of business and product ads online, on TV and on the street, and hears advertisements on the radio too.

The first hurdle between you and your potential customers is simply getting their attention. Your audience has seen the best campaigns that hundreds of marketing firms have been able to come up with. Having competitive marketing strategies and plans is an important step.

But the second piece is convincing them to take action. In most cases, your marketing efforts will direct people to visit your website. Online advertising makes this super easy, because your audience just has to click the ad to go to your site.

But with TV, radio, and print ads, you must also be memorable, so that your audience will remember to visit your site the next time they sit down at a computer or pick up their mobile device.

Will your domain name stick in their mind? Will it evoke curiosity? When they are finally ready to type the URL, will they spell it correctly?

The answer to all of these questions should be a resounding Yes! And to accomplish that, consider the following:

  • Keep the domain name short: Shorter names are simply easier to remember.
  • Use a new gTLD (aka extension): Take advantage of new options like .law or .play to save space, evoke an image, and/or clarify the purpose of your business.
  • Stay away from clever spelling: It worked for Flickr and Tumblr, but don’t bet on it working for you.
  • Make sure the domain isn’t too close to your competitors’ domain names: If your audience spells the domain name incorrectly, you don’t want to risk sending free business to your competitors!

Yes, You Can Change Your Mind Later

That’s right; you can certainly reconsider and change course down the road. But the hassle and cost of changing to new domain name, plus the additional costs to rebrand marketing material, may be a big headache in the end.

Spend some careful time up front considering the pros and cons of all your domain name options. Your ultimate goal is a catchy domain name that practically markets itself and lends itself well to word-of-mouth marketing. Make sure it does the trick!


Disclaimer: The views and opinions stated in this post are that of the author, and Return On Now may or may not agree with any or all of the commentary.

Feature image provided by the author under a CC Public Domain license, courtesy of artist Flash Alexander.