domain name choice: getting it right
3.02 CHOOSING THE RIGHT DOMAIN NAME - GENERAL ADVICE
In subsequent sections we will look at creating domain names for specific purposes, each having different criteria for the selection process. There are, however, some principles that are generic to all purposes - though their proposed application will be the ultimate decider. These basic principles include:
* Length - in general, when picking a name, less is more. However, as you will see, this is not an absolute. If a long domain name is the right domain name for its purpose, then that is the one you should register.
* How easy is it to recall the name? If you expect customers to remember your domain name, then it must be easy to recollect. In some instances this is where short or generic domains can be best. On the other hand, if you knew my company name was Charlesworth that's what you would remember - all 12 letters of it. For me to have a website on 'charles' because it is shorter would only confuse the issue.
* How will it be communicated? The medium - or media - in which customers will engage with your domain name will influence your choice. Considerations include:
- Radio (verbal only) - particularly relevant for radio advertising, there cannot be any confusion in what is being said. Vocally, 'two', 'to', 'too' and '2' all sound the same, but as part of a domain name each is different
- Print media (visual) - this is where short and memorable can be moved down the list of essential criteria as users will be able type the domain into a browser whilst reading it from print
- TV and outside advertising (brief visual) - not only are short and memorable important, but being aesthetically clear and easy to read also come into the equation
- Telephone (verbal only) - similar to radio, but add in the potential for distortion and the speaker's accent or pronunciation
- Word of mouth (verbal) - in this case the context can be important. Teenagers, for example, might expect 'for' to be '4'
All of these issues are addressed in the following sections, but here's one example to get things started.
MACH3Turbo.com is the domain name used by Gillette (a Procter and Gamble company) in the advertising for their men's razor of the same name. The interesting thing here is that Gillette actually present the domain name as I have here, with the same use of upper case letters as they use on the packaging of the product, ie 'MACH 3 Turbo' is the brand logo. Whilst this practice should be applauded, there is a caveat to the use of numbers in a domain name. If Gillette ran an advert for the razor on the radio and the voiceover made the comment 'for more details go to our website on mach three turbo dot com' - what would you type into your browser, 3 or three? I checked. Gillette hasn't registered machthreeturbo.com. I think the company could have stretched their marketing budget to a cover an extra name, don't you? There is a further lesson to be taken from this example. If a domain name is to be communicated only verbally, consider the way the recipient would spell what they heard. If I heard the phrase 'mach three' I would immediately associate it with speed through the air and spell it accordingly (as it is in this product). In a less than scientific experiment I asked my wife and her sister to write down 'mach three'. One wrote 'mac 3' and the other 'mack three'. I would accept the argument that the MACH 3 Turbo is a men's razor, and so they might be more likely to associate 'mach' with speed, but it is a thin argument.
Another product that uses a number in its name is Wall's Magnum Seven Sins ice cream, which uses magnum7sins.com as its domain name. However, Wall's recognized the numbers issue and registered magnumsevensins.com as well - well done them.
DOMAIN NAMES IN PRACTICE :
the Internet is global
Your website can be seen around the world, which means your domain name will be read by folk of various nationalities whose first language is not that in which the name is presented - so beware of word combinations being lost in pronunciation. For example, UK energy provider Powergen (now re-branded as Eon) found itself fielding embarrassing questions about their Italian division's website's domain name - powergenitalia.com. What made this so frustrating for them was that Powergen had no Italian division - the name belongs to an Italian battery firm that was unaware that running the two elements of its name together in its domain name would prove amusing to English speakers. Not really that big of a deal, but in a global market it is worth checking.
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Copyright copyright 2009 Alan Charlesworth. All rights reserved.
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