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Domain Names and Brand Recognition

By Staff

Unlike grade school, where four Emilys in a class were denoted as Emily S., Emily C., Emily A., and Emily P., the internet provides no allowance for Company.com A and Company.com B. Your domain name is your name itself, and even a company with a similar corporate identity cannot hold the same domain name, which means that only you have that unique online identity. Other companies closely monitor the possession and expiration date of domain names they want – some hosting companies even offer “Domain Watch” services – and if you’re one of the unlucky few who procrastinate renewing your domain name and have it registered out from under you, you’ll lose all of the brand recognition you’ve worked so hard to build.

How do they work?

You may have noticed that, after entering certain domain names, the text in the address bar becomes a string of seemingly random numbers that still points to the same page within a website. These numbers compose the Internet Protocol Address, or IP Address. IP Addresses are similar to house numbers as each one is unique and points to a distinctive computer acting as a web server. Yet, like phone numbers, these strings of digits are a lot more difficult for people to remember than text values. Developers realized that many users wouldn’t want to carry IP Address books with them and instead developed the concept of domain names through the Domain Name System (DNS).

In practice, this means that entering YourWeb.com in the address bar of your browser (or as an email address) actually points to the IP Address on the server that houses the web pages on YourWeb.com.

How should I choose a domain name?

First, brainstorm a list of words or phrases that would commonly come to mind when thinking about your company, your products, or other concepts associated with your business. You want customers to instantly make and keep a connection between your domain name and your business, as this means they’re more likely to return or mention the name to their friends.

Keep your ideas short and sweet – no more than 20 characters – as anything longer becomes difficult to remember and irritating for a customer to type.

After compiling a list of possible names, head online and see whether or not they’re already registered to other businesses or individuals. The next section will provide names of sites and companies that can check statuses for you. Whittle down your list by deleting those that are already registered and get some outside opinions. Send the list of potential domain names to employees, previous customers, colleagues, and even friends and family. This will give you an accurate idea as to the possible response future customers and visitors will have to the different names.

I’ve decided on a name, so what do I do now?

You should register your chosen name as soon as possible. The web works in seconds, not days, and waiting can mean that another company may come along and register the name before you have the chance. You have two options when registering domain names: the do-it-yourself route or having your ISP register it on your behalf. The first option requires a small amount of skill online, while the second can sometimes carry nominal fees.

If you decide to register the domain name on your own, choose an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)-accredited registrar. These are very easy to find through a simple online search for “domain name registration” or “domain registrar.” You’ll find it in your best interest to shop around – while they all offer the same basic registration service, some sites charge upwards of $25 for one year of registration while others charge less than $10.

If you’d rather have your ISP or hosting company handle the registration, simply contact the company’s customer service department and provide them the relevant information (domain name, number of years the registration should last, etc.). They should already have your contact and company information, so registration should be quick and simple. You pay for that convenience, however, as this route eliminates your opportunity to shop around for a better deal.

How do I make sure I don’t lose my domain name?

As discussed above, losing a domain name can result in a loss of brand recognition and online identity. Unlike the physical world, you can’t post “Company A has moved to SiteB.com” signs on a site someone else now owns. Domain names are typically registered a year at a time, which requires that you renew the name before the expiration. Most registrars offer reminder services that begin several months before the expiration date, so avoid procrastination and re-register immediately. If business is going well and you can afford to do so, renew your registration for a longer period of time and completely avoid the stress of renewing for up to 10 years. While renewing, check to be certain that all of the information the registrar has for your account is correct. Correct telephone numbers and both physical and e-mail addresses are vital, as registrars will use these records to contact you regarding urgent issues pertaining to your domain name. Make it a point to update this information any time you or your company moves.

Without a relevant, simple-to-remember domain name, your customers and colleagues can easily move on to the next similar business. Would you run a business without a consistent logo or even a business name? Of course not, and an effective domain name has the same impact online.

           

 
     
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