A recent study hints that startups might actually alter their entire brand name just to land a .com domain name. Read on to find out why this may not be such a good idea for your company.
We’re always talking about how important it is that you equip your new startup with a domain name that’s going to be memorable and catchy for your future customers. But are some startups taking the idea of having their desired .com domain name a little too far?
A study by Clutch, a research firm out of Washington DC, found that 88% of startups have a .com domain name, but 41% of them are “invented names” that have absolutely no meaning. In other words, almost half of the startups we’re seeing are settling for an obscure company name in order to land a domain name with a .com at the end.
The research from Clutch showed that only 16% of startups choose a name that’s actually descriptive, while 26% choose something experiential, 17% are evocative, and as mentioned before, 41% are entirely invented words or phrases.
The main reason for this is due to the high demand and low supply for .com domain names. It seems like all of the good ones are gone, and only bizarre or even fake words remain for .com domain name options. Many startups are scared to take the risk of registering a gTLD and want to stick to the more comfortable domain name extension we’re all familiar with.
It’s interesting to note that the trend for naming a startup has gradually changed over the last few years. For example, before 2012, 75% of companies used a name that was either descriptive or experiential. In today’s startup world, the number has nearly flip-flopped.
We’re not saying that inventing a word to lead a business is necessarily a bad idea. For example, look at Google or Ebix. However, it seems like many startups are getting carried away with brand name choices so they can land a .com domain name as well as stand out from the crowd.
Kristen Pembroke, director of client services at a popular branding agency called Catchword, said:
“A lot of what goes on with naming styles and trends stems from the challenges of securing a domain or trademark. It’s gotten to be so challenging for major startups, and for everyone really, and so there are a variety of ways for businesses to get around that.”
So that might explain why we’re seeing company names like Xobni, Thoof and Doostang…
Is there a solution?
Choosing a name for a startup is a decision that will take hours of collaboration, research and oftentimes rigorous testing. But most would agree that it’s not worth having a brand name that’s entirely irrelevant just to be able to get a .com domain name.
Our suggestion is to explore alternative domain name extensions through ICANN’s generic Top Level Domain name program. There are now over 700 domain name endings other than the traditional .com. You can choose an industry-specific gTLD, such as .tech or .marketing, or a more generic domain name ending like .online or .xyz.
There’s no denying that .com is still the default for most people when it comes to domain names, and we don’t see that trend changing in the near future. However, it’s much better to have a feasible company name coupled with a gTLD than to have a name like asoi23f.com.