The smart way to name your business  

Brandable domains: why branding agencies hate them

Posted on May 01, 2015 by Vince Bridgman

Why branding agencies hate brandable domains

It’s easy to see why branding agencies don’t like brandable domains.

For a start, they’re a threat to their traditional way of doing things. Buying a business name off-the-peg is the complete opposite of creating a bespoke name from a detailed brief. A branding expert would argue that you can’t name a business without a deep understanding of its objectives, its products, its marketplace and its culture.

There’s a problem with that argument; what if you don’t know any of that stuff yet? Startups rarely know what their business is going to look like in six months time, let alone a few years. Tailoring a name to an imagined vision of a business can lead to the inconvenience of a rebrand down the line. Whereas a less-specific brand name, chosen more by instinct than logic, can give a company the flexibility to develop or even reposition itself without later rebranding.

The 'right way' to get a business name

A branding expert might also claim that an effective business name only emerges from a methodical process that includes a great deal of analysis, brainstorming sessions and rigorous filtering to arrive at a shortlist …followed by market testing to help with the decision.

In principle, we buy this argument. Unfortunately it ignores commercial reality for many businesses, who simply don’t have the time or budget to use a branding agency, even if they wanted to. They need a pragmatic alternative, and sometimes they just need to sort it. Today.

Another reason branding experts can be sniffy about brandable domains is that they disagree with a ‘domain-first’ approach to naming. They would argue that you should “find a great business name, and then see what domain you can get”. But this opinion overlooks the absolute, mission-critical necessity of owning a strong domain name in today’s business world, and leads to the compromise of imperfect and often awkward domain names. 

Domain name = brand name

Like it or not, a business name and a domain name are integral, symbiotic partners in developing a brand. Treating a domain name as an after-thought is to ignore the un-ignorable commercial influence of the internet.

Of course, a brandable domain still has to contain the vital ingredients for developing a strong brand: relevance, differentiation and engagement. This means that finding the right brandable domain is very, very hard.

But naming a business isn’t easy, however you go about it. Brandable domains provide a useful, viable, and perfectly respectable naming solution for many businesses.

Of course, branding agencies disagree. But they would, wouldn’t they?


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