I started this out with the article last week with “What’s In A (Domain) Name?” and went so long that I had to continue it here. You'll find that many of the good name ideas are taken. So with the points mentioned previously (Identify, Keep It Short, Use Simple Common Words), you’ll be looking outside the box for a domain name. What's the exception then? You won't be using simple common words. If you are going for a Web 2.0 name, you’ll be making up words that people may not intuitively get without having it explained to them. If you are using your own name, it may be more common than you think but it is far from being on the tip of the tongue of one person in every household. But if you do it right, you are on your way to having everyone know your name.
This exception is more like an excuse. I would like to start by saying I don't put much stock in fads. Just like there was a shift from the internet to web 2.0, there will be a shift to the next advance in our online culture. We look back on things we did in the past that were then cutting edge as quaint now and even sometimes ridiculous.
People want to try to get a taste of the success of companies like Google and Apple. They seem to think that by making up a name with two “o's” in it or putting an “i” on the front of their business name or product, they can replicate that success. The evidence is in people naming businesses and products i-whatever even when it has absolutely nothing to do with Apple or Apple products. Additionally, we are hip deep in oodles of websites with domains that have two “o's” together. It is to the point where the Yoo Hoo drink company may have a solid case to sue every one of them for diluting their brand's impact.
The last thing you want to do is spend time and money building up a name and a presence that is drowned out by all the “me too's” as the online world yawns and moves on. You want to stand out and be noticed. And you want to remain standing out and being noticed for as long as possible.
If you have gobs of cash you can throw away on fads and have no problem changing your brand to meet the latest fashion, you can simply ignore the previous paragraphs. You can also contact me and I'll be more than happy to help you change your campaigns on an ongoing basis. :^)
Web 2.0 sounding names do have their place. You can create a name that is able to be trademarked. Having a made up name that you have trademarked can help prevent the nightmare of someone trying to challenge your right to that domain. Just be sure to do your research before making the final move, purchasing your domain. A good place to start would be the trademark database. You want to be sure you don't give anybody valid reason to come after you or your domain. Don’t include another business' or organization's trademark, tradename, or product name in your business, product, or domain name unless you have written permission and a legitimate business relationship.
Bottom line: If you think it takes too much time and money to find a good name that has nothing to do with anybody else's business, compare that to a trademark infringement suit. Two companies that viciously defend their trademarked brands are Disney and Ebay. However, you may have never heard of the company that you infringe upon. That does not mean much. You will still lose all that you worked to build under that name.
When You are the brand
You can't go wrong with your own name as your domain. Your name is good when your business has multiple divisions. You can house them under the single domain on one site like this: xyz.com/marketing/. Or you can use sub-domains to separate them as in: marketing.xyz.com.
Your name may not always be available. It is a big world. It’s quite possible you have a family name and someone who came before you has already snapped it up as a domain. Marketers often have this problem. The standard seems to be adding “who is” or “work with” to their name. You can even use “meet” as a prefix. These are powerful concepts. You’re using curiosity with who is by asking a question that begs for an answer that people need to know, “Who is John X?” “Work with John X” invokes the imagination to consider the possibilities of what working with you would hold.
I’d like to add two more prefixes, “why” and “excel with.” In my opinion, the question of “why” is a bit more provocative. “Why” reaches out and smacks people who don't care about “who is.” It asks why and that is enough to get people asking themselves “Why is the question being asked?” What is significant about this person that the question of why is attached to their name.
“Excel with” is somewhat promising. I mean that it implies that people will succeed by working with you. That's the message you want to send, right? Not if you are fearful of any possible threat of liability for someone who doesn’t succeed with you. It's true that the rewards go to those willing to take the risks. You’ll be alone in the field standing out from the crowd. And that is where you want to be to get the most business. People who want to play it safe will avoid it like the plague until enough people are using it that it has lost its edge.
That's when you start looking at adding a keyword that identifies what you do, combined with your name that separates you from pure keyword using competitors. That helps you get the traffic for your market and those who are seeking you out specifically.