Listen to Alan Dunn talk about whether or not acquiring the perfect .com domain name is important.


Alan Dunn: 00:50 Hello. Today is December 20, 2019, and in today’s episode, podcast episode number six, I’m going to talk about whether or not you really need the perfect .com domain. I’m going to break this topic into six specific questions. Number one, how do you brand your company? 2, how do you plan to grow? Number three, how do your customers interact with you? Number four, what promises do you make your customers? Number five, where is your target market? And number six, what is the best version of your domain name?

Alan Dunn: 01:30 So let’s start with how do you brand your company? How you position your brand name is one of the most important answers on whether or not you should consider buying the best version of your domain name. If your company is called White Rabbit Consulting, for example, and all your customers, staff and marketing team understand that the name of your company is White Rabbit Consulting, not White Rabbit, then purchasing White Rabbit Consulting may be the more logical choice. However, if you are branding yourself just as White Rabbit, then you want a short domain that is just that, White Rabbit. Ask almost any marketing expert and they will tell you that name consistency is a critical element of any marketing plan. For many companies, the way consumers remember your brand depends entirely on how you market it.

Alan Dunn: 02:22 Number two, how do you plan to grow? Along the same lines of branding, I think it’s also important, if you can, to think about the future direction of your company and ensure the name you are branding with doesn’t box you in, or possibly present legal challenges. Uber is a great example of both here. According to an Investopedia article, Uber originally operated on the UberCab.com domain, but in October 2010 were served a cease and desist order from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. One of the main issues cited was the use of the word cab in Uber Cab’s name. The startup promptly responded by changing the name Uber Cab to Uber and bought the Uber.com domain name from the Universal Music Group. Looking back, this forced Uber to change its domain, but it was also a perfect move since Uber is a technology company, and even the word cab is not always the primary word used for a taxi in every culture. Uber today, on the other hand, is now a global verb for catching a ride.

Alan Dunn: 03:32 Number three, how do your customers interact with you? Understanding how your customers interact with you is also critically important. How we use the internet is growing. For many companies today, especially tech companies, the only real direct interaction with customers is through an app or website. In short, customers are not emailing the company directly, but rather, filling out forms within an app or website, talking with chat boxes, and more. Essentially, for these companies, the world has moved from paper to email to apps. On the other hand, if you are a company where the primary form of communication is through email, then it’s probably critically important to get the best domain name for your company. Think about it, have you ever emailed someone at Uber.com for help? Probably not. However, the odds are you have emailed your doctor’s or lawyer’s office direct.

Alan Dunn: 04:32 Number four, what promises do you make your customers? Trust. Security. Safety. What promises you make to customers is another critical answer which defines how you should approach a domain name acquisition. If you are a small ice cream shop, then your marketing may be around the number of flavors offered, the organic materials of your ice cream cones, or something more product orientated. Whether or not you own the best .com is probably less important. However, if you are a big data company and promise your customers the best online security in the world, then owning a second tier domain name is, well, a little embarrassing, because it shows you are likely not the best in your business, and unintentionally, even compromises the level of promises you have made. As Paul Graham, co-founder of Ycombinator, wrote in 2015 within one of his well-regarded essays titled, Change Your Name, “The problem with not having the .com of your name is that it signals weakness.” This statement is still very true today, especially for large companies.

Alan Dunn: 05:46 Number five, where is your target market? I love this question because I think for many people this question is quite debatable. In the United States, the .com domain name has essentially defaulted to being the country’s top level domain. However, in many countries, local ccTLDs, think .ca for Canada, .co.uk for the United Kingdom, are just as high in local trust as the .com extension. There’s also the sense of national pride, which the .com just doesn’t have. If your market is specific to a local market, then owning the .com may not be as quite important as simply owning the best local version of your domain name.

Alan Dunn: 06:33 You know, interestingly enough, if you refer back to the article Paul Graham wrote, he started the essay by saying, “If you have a US startup called X and you don’t have x.com, you should probably change your name.” You see, the assumption was a USA startup, not a startup located in France with only local customers as the target market.

Alan Dunn: 06:56 Number six, what is the best version of your domain name? Well, human nature, especially in the US, defaults to .com, this human nature has also been taught to us by collective billions spent around the world promoting .com by business owners. Today, the world, and marketing dollars, are also shifting and many successful companies operate on extensions like .co, .io, and in a relatively newer field, .ai. In my opinion, the world has hit a tipping point where the .com simply is not always available, and much more money is being spent creating trust and awareness for a handful of other extensions. Note, I said handful.

Alan Dunn: 07:47 If you can afford the .com, it’s still the most highly sought after extension. However, depending on your answers to the above questions, whether or not you need the .com is also changing. What you do need, however, is the best version of your domain name, in the best extension available. An extension which has been adopted, an extension your customers already know, an extension your customers already trust, and one which doesn’t compromise the values you say you have.

Alan Dunn: 08:20 Thank you for listening, and don’t forget to subscribe or visit NameCorp.com for more information on buying or selling a domain name. Have a great day.


Listen to Alan Dunn, a 20-year domain name industry veteran, share domain name stories and talk with other experts and founders around the world. Go inside big and complex transactions, common domain name questions and more. Domain Stories available on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotifyStitcherTunein and Pocket Casts.

Follow Alan Dunn on Twitter @alangdunn and @domainstories, and visit Namecorp.com for more information on buying or selling a domain name.

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