Naming a Business or Choosing a Domain? … Consider This!
In the old days … that is, before the web and more recently social media and search … choosing the name for your business was a simple matter. If your name was Bob and you were a plumber’s apprentice, there finally came a time for you to spread your wings and go off on your own. Now in charge of your own destiny, you set off for the local print shop to buy your first business cards and maybe some flyers and postcards. “Bob’s Plumbing Service”, you proudly said to the typesetter … “Serving the Metro Area Since …. well, today”.
The story repeats itself a million times worldwide. Naming conventions based on heritage, location, cute iterations (we love the myriad combinations of “Shear” when it comes to hair cutters), rhyme, industry or size. Historically, this was never much of a problem, in fact, sometimes it was downright funny.
Examples of humorous names abound; Juan More Taco, A Den of Antiquity, Wok Around the Clock and Mickey Mao’s. But none of these businesses faced the problem that arises today when a “commonly named” business tries to brand itself online or in the social space. Businesses with names longer than fifteen characters can forget about owning their brand on Twitter, and if you are thinking at all about (and of course, you MUST) extending your brand online, remember the web is global … so there is always a chance that one of the other 7.4 billion people on the planet might have already registered your name in .au or .uk.
So what is a new business to do? For a truly new business, as in one that is still in the planning stages, it is fairly simple. Research. Research, before you name your new business. Find out if the name is available online, on Twitter, on Facebook. Be sure the dot com is available if you have your heart set on that most popular of URL extensions, rather than a dot biz, dot net, or dot tv. Plan on naming for ease of recall and intuitive keyboarding, for instance if your name is to be BiState, don’t get cute and call it BuyState, unless you plan on spelling it every time you mention it, and secure both domain names anyway, so that someone doesn’t squat on it or worse, link it to a competitor or porn site and hold it for ransom … yes, this happens.
For an established business, the challenge is much greater. Some true giants of industry have been caught embarrassingly unaware by the fact that somebody already owned their name. McDonald’s had to buy their domain name away from an individual, and Hyundai, GM, Disney, Sears, Nike, and Kellogg were not fast enough to claim their names in the social space initially either. In fact, some of the smartest marketers in business blew it when it came to preparing for the social media wave. Even Berkshire Hathaway, a company owned by one of the smartest and wealthiest businessmen in the world, Warren Buffet can’t use his company name on Twitter … It’s simply too long.
For business owners today, there are a few options. Some have actually changed or shortened their existing names or added numbers to secure their own brand. Others have opted to incorporate a part or all of their USP or tagline or a convolution of their name that makes sense. So Bob’s Plumbing Service, while too long for Twitter, may settle for @PlumbBob, or @DripsNoMore.
So while neither JuanMoreTaco.com or BobsPlumbingService.com are available as URL’s today, your business name, if it is unique … may be. Just make sure that you brand it similarly across all channels, including your email. So it looks like this:
- Company: Juan More Taco LLC
- Website URL: www.JuanMoreTaco.com
- Facebook: Facebook.com/JuanMoreTaco
- Twitter: Twitter.com/JuanMoreTaco
- Instagram: Instagram.com/JuanMoreTaco
Bob’s Plumbing Service is “Proudly Serving the Columbia, SC Metro” by the way, albeit with a placeholder website … but at least he has ‘branded’ email.
Need help with a naming convention? Seek out a professional. Seriously, this is not something left to amateurs. there are naming laboratories that charge six figures to come up with business names. While not something the average business needs or can afford, at least consult with a creative team, or spend time thinking about what makes the most sense, long term for your name or brand across the many social and online channels available.
And for Pete’s Sake, (@ForPetesSake is gone by the way) … ask your customers to like you, follow you and interact socially with you, but tell them how. Don’t just generically ask them to “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Instagram”, give them a direct link to your profile. Search, in social media is not as intuitive as it is on Google™, without a direct link, they might not even be able to find you, so show them the way.
When planning for our new agency, we carefully considered names and took all these things into account. So The Ad Buyer could be TheAdBuyer.com and we could use @HireTheAdBuyer in social media. Don’t leave this to chance, you might get lucky, but it is wise to check with a professional before you set anything in stone.
Paul Evans is Director of Agency Services at The Ad Buyer