Up and coming news about the new domain name extension might be generating headlines, but among domain investors, 2013 might be the year of the brandable domain name.
Brandable domain names generally consist of names bought primarily for naming a company, rather than their search engine optimization value.
A combination of factors have made brandable domain names come to the fore in 2013.
1. The Silicon Valley Tech Culture
Silicon Valley and potentially Stephen Colbert have made playfulness much more accepted in naming.
This linguistic playfulness has it own rules such as affixing -ly or -sy to real words. This limits the number of possibilities, which must then pass what industry insiders call the “radio test”.
This tests listeners on know how to spell a word if they heard it on the radio and, would a radio announcer know how to say it just by looking at.
Evocativeness of the actual use also plays a role in valuing brandable domain names. A word that’s a play on a highly commercial phrase in an area that generates a good number of funded startups such as mailsy.com would add to the desirability.
In addition, certain prefixes such as lux- for luxury or sol- for solar can add to the value. A catchy name that communicates what a startup is and does can be a valuable asset when competing for venture capital against a large number of startups.
Startups have been increasingly named after their product, such as Facebook, which traditionally has looser naming standards than companies that have sought a high level of dignity and weight in their names.
2. Ease of Trademark and Branding
According to the owner of brandable domain name boutique Popcentric, who is also an attorney, “That made up words can be much easier to trademark, in which building a brand is an important factor for most customers.” He went on to mention that wasn’t a hard and fast rule and that dictionary words could also be trademarked there use was not related to the actual meaning of the word. This would be the situation with say Apple.
3. Google Crackdown on exact match domain names
The words in a website URL have long influenced the position in search engine results. Having a URL that exactly matches its keywords, has been a great boost to SEO. However, in 2013 Google launched an update targeting “low quality” exact match domains to thwart the tactic of launching a large number of low quality sites for a particular key phrase.
How Google does this remains unclear, but this update is credited for giving a big boost to the demand for brandable domain names as an alternative.
Representatives from Google have also mentioned brand recognition specifically, is a strong SEO indicator.
Made up words also make it easier to brand since the companies don’t have to distinguish themselves against a preexisting and established meaning of the word.
The response from domain investors has been phenomenal with over 10 “brandable boutiques” being launched in the past year such as Icbrands, Excitemental, Popcentric, and Brandroot. There are also over five hundred forum posts on the keywords “domain name forums.”
The innovation in domain naming and branding will continue enriching our commercial linguistic landscape. We should all expect major news outlets to continuing covering the brandable domain names that will be tomorrow’s brands!