What is a brand-matching domain and why should you care?
May 12, 2018 (Sat). I often use the term brand-matching domain in my writing. What do I mean and why is it important?
A brand-matching domain is a domain where its name part is identical to a brand. In the case of a company name, I consider the part of the name that consumers remember is its corporate brand. Also, the domain extension is preferably .com because it is globally recognized and the virtual world is global.
To illustrate the concept, let’s use Jack Ma’s company as an example. The company name is Alibaba Group Holding Limited but consumers mostly remember it as “Alibaba”. Therefore, “Alibaba” is the corporate brand and Alibaba.com is a brand-matching domain. If you are not sure how your company name is actually referred to, look for news stories of your company and see how your company name is mentioned in the news. Otherwise, ask your customers, suppliers, and people associated with your company.
The largest internet companies set trends, so it’s worth the time to study them. Here are the domains of the Top 10 internet companies as reported on Wikipedia: Amazon (Amazon.com), Alphabet ( abc.xyz), JD.com (ditto), Facebook (Facebook.com), Tencent (Tencent.com), Alibaba (Alibaba.com), Booking (Booking.com), Baidu (Baidu.com), eBay (eBay.com), and Netflix (Netflix.com). Nine of of the ten companies use brand-matching domains and .com is the preferred extension. If you aspire to become like them, then a brand-matching .com is essential.
What happens if you do not own your brand-matching domain? First, remember that consumers are busy and overloaded with information, so they can’t easily remember your domain if it does not match your brand. Specifically, there are two major risks: (1) Your visitors may end up going to the wrong website. (2) Confidential emails may be sent to the wrong place.
If you do not own your brand-matching domain, acquiring it later can be very difficult. Ask Elon Musk. In 2003, he created a motor company called Tesla Motors, Inc. and he registered the domain TeslaMotors.com. Unfortunately, the general public refers to the company as “Tesla” not the longer “Tesla Motors”. So, Elon Musk had to acquire the brand-matching name Tesla.com, which took him 13 years and many failed attempts before Tesla.com became his corporate domain in 2016.
In China, years ago a small company called Jiang Dong started an ecommerce platform on 360Buy.com. Then, it acquired its brand-matching domain JiangDong.com. It went one step further in 2012 by spending $5 million to secure JD.com, which has propelled the company to become the 3rd largest internet company in the world. See the power of a good domain!
If you are a startup founder with absolutely no budget for a good domain, what can you do? Well, there is good news! You can use a free name generation service such as LeanDomainSearch.com to create a .com domain that can be registered for about $10. Just make sure that you decide your brand and secure the matching domain at the same time. This guarantees that you can go global on day one.