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Activity Forums Q & A Startups 9 Clever Solutions if the .com Domain Name of Your Brand is Taken

  • 9 Clever Solutions if the .com Domain Name of Your Brand is Taken

    updated 2 weeks, 3 days ago 0 Member · 1 Post
  • David

    Member
    October 31, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    After countless hours refining your brand story, brainstorming names and designing your marketing materials you have finally come up with a stellar brand name for your business. You complete all the official paperwork to register your business under this name. Finally, you go to the registrar of your choice to register the .com domain name that matches your brand name. To your shock and horror you find that it has already been registered. You are not alone, this happens to countless new businesses every day. You can’t go back in time. So what do you do? Try to buy it This one seems so obvious, however, many people just give up when they find that the domain name is registered. Type the domain name into your browser and see what it resolves to. If you get a landing page indicating that the name is for sale then contact the owner to see if you can acquire it. If the page is parked at a registrar or the domain does not resolve to a website then use Whois or ICANN Lookup to find out who the registrant is and contact them. The above is actually a good situation to be in because at least it means that the domain name is available. If there is a business using the domain then it can be extremely difficult and even impossible at times to acquire it. Many business owners say “we will buy the domain later when we become a big company and can afford it”. Even if you’re a unicorn and can afford it, the business might still not want to sell it to you due to the value that it provides to them. What do you think is happening with Cruise Automation which was acquired by General Motors and Cruise.com. There are numerous other cases exactly like this one. Would you sell a domain name that your entire business depends on? Rebrand All your marketing materials contain this name. All your customers know you by this name. You have incorporated with this name. You tell yourself that rebranding is not an option. However, the truth is that on average businesses rebrand once every 7-10 years for a variety of reasons. If you cannot acquire the .com domain of your current brand name you could see this as an opportunity to find a new name. You should ask yourself why you are in love with this name and cannot let go of it? You are not married to this name. Even married people get divorced every day! Paul Graham, one of the founders of Y Combinator, doesn’t mess around telling you why in this situation you should change your name. Append an industry identifier to your brand name If you can find a natural and short industry related word to append to your brand name then go for it. This can add extra meaning to your domain name and retaining a .com extension has the benefit of preserving trust. Even a massive company like Tesla was using the domain TeslaMotor.com until 2016 as the domain Tesla.com was already taken. Do not append inc, llc or corp to your domain name as it’s redundant. The only people who care about the legal name of your company are the taxman, law enforcement services and people suing you. It’s just ugly and the world doesn’t need anymore ugly domain names. Prepend your brand name with a verb We only suggest doing this if prepending a verb to your brand name leads to a powerful call to action. The type of example that works is something like GoNeural.com (this is an actual domain name we have available for purchase). We see many examples of businesses using verbs like “try” and “get” which are just weak. Don’t do it unless it sounds really good like TryHarder.com or GetSmarter.com. Use a company slogan If you have a powerful company slogan that is short and memorable then this strategy can work. A great example of this is JustDoIt.com which redirects to Nike.com. Of course in this case, the slogan isn’t actually their main domain name, but you get the point. Use a country-code TLD (ccTLD) There are actually 3 types of ccTLDs. There are those in general usage across all industries like .co. It is an alternative abbreviation for company as well as the ccTLD for Colombia. There are those that have been adopted for specific industry usage such as .io (tech startups and the ccTLD for the British Indian Ocean Territory) and .ai (artificial intelligence companies and the ccTLD for Anguilla). Finally, there are those that only have country specific usage like .de for Germany and .ca for Canada. The later type is acceptable if your business activities are primarily tied to a specific country and you have no intention to expand globally. The former types are acceptable if you operate on a global scale and/or are in one of these industries. Note that having a domain name with a ccTLD has minimal impact on your ability in Google to rank globally. However, the downside of ccTLDs is that they lose direct (type in) traffic to the .com version of the domain and are perceived to be less trustworthy by customers. An important point to mention is that if you are based in the United States, using the .us ccTLD is not really a viable option. Customers expect reputable businesses in the United States to have a .com extension in their domain name. Use an alternative Top Level Domain (TLD) You could opt for one of the historic generic top level domains (gTLDs) such as .org or .net. If you are a non-profit organization then .org is even better than .com, so use it. However, if you are business then .net suffers from the same downsides related to trust and direct traffic mentioned above for the ccTLDs. You will have exactly the same issue using one of the numerous new gTLDs. If you go this route then at least make sure that whatever extension you have to the right of the dot matches with your brand name. Great examples are Home.loans or Poker.club. Try to register the domain name on expiry You could wait and check if the domain name expires using a tool like Domain Monitor. If the domain expires and the registrant does not renew it then you may be able to acquire the name either through a backorder service, an auction or registration. This can be a risky approach if the domain is in high demand as many more people will become aware of it. Go the legal route According to trademark law, the first entity to use a trademark in commerce is considered the owner. Note that a trademark covers specific classes of goods or services. So if you used the name (or a confusingly similar name) to market your businesses products or services prior to the domain name registrant acquiring the domain name, you may have a case. In such circumstances you may be able to prevent them from using the name or require that they turn the name over to your possession. It’s important to note that the name does not necessarily have to be a registered trademark for you to take legal action. The trademark is established by your use of the mark for particular classes of goods and services. You have several options to enforce your legal rights. You can submit the matter to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to be resolved under its Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) and seek a ruling that the domain name be transferred to you. Also you can file a trademark infringement lawsuit seeking damages and compensation and a court order that the registrant transfer the domain name to your possession. We give these tips as practical solutions for businesses in this predicament. However, we stress that if your brand name is [brandname] then ideally your website should be at [brandname].com. Intuitively this is what your customers expect and trust. – by hq overview DotEvoke – –

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