and Brand Recognition
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 youre
one of the unlucky few who procrastinate
renewing your domain name and have it registered
out from under you, youll lose all of the brand
recognition youve 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
wouldnt 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
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 theyre 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 theyre 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.
Ive 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. Youll 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 youd rather have your ISP or
hosting company handle the registration, simply
contact the companys 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 dont 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 cant 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.