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What’s in a (domain) name? Here’s how the right one boosts your brand.

by John Marshall
Published on 16 January, 2018
brunodionmarsh

Way back in 1994, Josh Quittner, a journalist for Wired magazine, purchased the domain name ‘mcdonalds.com’

Below is an excerpt from the article he wrote about his stunt:

‘Are you finding that the Internet is a big thing?’ asked Jane Hulbert, a helpful McDonald’s media-relations person, with whom I spoke a short while ago.

statue of Ronald McDonald

Of course, to contemporary eyes, this question seems sort of adorably out-of-touch. The Internet, it turns out, was poised to be a Big Thing indeed.

But while McDonalds wasn’t interested in purchasing mcdonalds.com initially, they did eventually buy it from Quittner (after the story ran), who then donated his hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit to charity.

Nowadays, domain names are even more valuable. In 2010, for example, the web address ‘insurance.com’ sold for $35.6 million (£27 million), making it the most expensive domain name ever sold.

The takeaway here is that custom domain names are worthwhile — not just for megalithic corporations, but for small business owners, too.

What exactly is a domain name?

Each website you visit has a domain name (right now, for example, you’re on blog.ueni.com)

Domain names were first created as a technical shortcut for Internet users, a nominal stand-in for Internet Protocol—or ‘IP’—addresses, which are each composed of a unique number series. Rather than force web browsers to memorize the IP address associated with each website they want to visit, early Internet pioneers created domain names.

Think of domain names as being like the contacts stored on your mobile phone; when you want to call someone, you only need to select his or her name (because you probably don’t know the number to dial by heart).

While you can use third-party sites to purchase a domain name, the actual body in charge of registering them is called Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization based in California.

At present, ICANN reports that there are 252 million domain names registered worldwide.

Business man showing business card

Your domain name is an extension of your brand name

Let’s say your name is Jan and you own a bakery. Let’s call it ‘Jan Kneads Cake.’

Hi, Jan.

Listen, Jan, if you create a website for your bakery using a DIY website builder like SquareSpace, you’ll be required to purchase a custom domain name through them, assuming you want one.

But you should want one.

Otherwise, your website address will be something like this:

squarespace.jankneadscake.com

That’s just not as catchy.

Now imagine you paid a construction company — let’s call it We Build Stuff Inc. — to build your brick-and-mortar bakery. But only on the condition that, when you told customers its location, you had to say, “It’s at We Build Stuff Inc., dot, 12 Pine Street.”

Don’t kid yourself, Jan: words are powerful and brand names matter. So if you want to showcase yourself as a pro, don’t sound like an amateur. Custom domain names add credibility and boost your brand name recognition; the easier your name is to remember, the more likely someone will.

Sure, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

But roses.com is owned by Florist’s Transworld Delivery (FTD), a billion-dollar floral arrangement company based in Illinois.

Domain names are not all equally sweet.

When you pick yours, make sure it’s short, easy to pronounce and hard to forget. You wouldn’t give out blank business cards, which made it hard to find you. So don’t go with a bad domain name that customers won’t remember.

Make sure the world (wide web) knows your website is yours

If you own a business and you’ve gone to the trouble of launching a website, you deserve total ownership.

When you subscribe to UENI, we’ll now present you with a list of available domain name options. Simply select the one of your choice, and that’s it — you’re done. We’ll deal with ICANN. And we’ll take care of assembling your website for you, too. And we’ll create your Facebook Business page. Oh, and we’ll verify you on Google Maps. Plus other stuff.

To launch your website with UENI, all you need to do is approve our finished product. Subscriptions start at £34.99 per month, and there’s no obligation — you can cancel anytime.

At UENI, our philosophy is pretty simple: we put small business owners first.

We don’t think our name should ever come before yours.

After all, it’s your domain.

 

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John Marshall
brunodionmarsh
John Marshall is a writer, editor and strategist now based in London. His work features on TimeOut (New York), Thrillist, The Huffington Post, and MTV Networks, among others. Follow him @brunodionmarsh
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