Should businesses use a brandable name or a descriptive one?

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The debate continues and both sides have good points.

For as long as I’ve been in the domain investor community there’s been a debate about what the best type of domain name is for a new company.

Is it a category-defining domain name such as RunningShoes.com? Or is a unique domain that can be branded, such as Amazon.com, better?

Some people say brandable domains are always better. I think depends.

One of my most enlightening interviews this year was with Seth Newman, CEO of BIGNAME Commerce. His company owns Envelopes.com, Folders.com and Bags.com.

Clearly, he’s a believer in category-killer domains. But there’s a catch. He thinks these names make sense only for product categories that people don’t shop for by brand.

People generally don’t think about brands when they search for envelopes. Jeans are another matter; you probably have a favorite brand you usually purchase and that’s how you begin your search. So Envelopes.com is a great name for an envelopes company. Jeans.com is a good name for a jeans seller but it doesn’t have the same benefit.

There are also problems with having the top level domain be part of your brand, and if you are a company like Envelopes.com, then .com is a big part of your brand. The problem is that third-party seller sites like Amazon won’t let your brand have a domain in it. So you have to come up with a new brand on these sites because you don’t want to call yourself just “Envelopes”.

Another problem with category-defining names like these is that your category might change. If Amazon.com started as Books.com, it probably would have had to change its name. (Books.com is owned by Barns & Noble.)

My favorite domains for brands are ones that conjure up an image and are memorable. BlueApron.com is a good example. Apron=cooking.

It’s worth noting, however, that BlueApron has spent a rediculous amount of money on branding and advertising. Not everyone can. Still, even for a small company, something like BlueApron.com may be better than FoodKits.com.

And note that these brandable descriptions are made up of real words, not ones that are made up and difficult to spell.

 



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