I’ve received countless emails and questions during my speaking presentations about selecting the right domain name. I want to address all of these questions in this post and give you a few strategies you can use with domain names to brand yourself, your business, your content or all three. I’ve spoken about the importance of protecting your personal brand in the digital age, but now it’s time to give you real strategies.
Step 1: Choose your strategy
Many people skip this step because they get excited and/or hear one of my talks and immediately want to protect their personal brand by securing this domain name. These individuals might have the right idea, but have forgotten one keyword: marketing.
- Corporate branding: Your strategy for registering a corporate brand is simple, just use the company name. Before you name your company, you should already have the domain name. If it’s taken, then move on or try to purchase it from someone else immediately. Otherwise, when your brand becomes more successful (your business is worth more) a third party might charge you 10x more for that same domain name. It’s much better to pay the ~$7 upfront.
- Personal branding: The first thing you want to do is Google your name. Depending on the results, your strategy will be different. If you have a common name, your strategy will be different than having a unique name.
- Unique: You won’t run into any problems owning your Google results (you will be the master of your domain).
- Common: You will have to brainstorm different name options.
- Asset branding: A content-driven website, such as a blog or podcast, that is branded under a single domain name, and possibly sub domain names (subdomain.domain.com). An example is advertising.ducttapemarketing.com. Of course this “asset brand” could become a corporate brand if one of the objectives is to monetize it.
- Redirect branding: I think one of the most innovative approaches to domain name branding is to redirect a domain to a single source. For instance, purchasing joemaddenvideoresume.com and redirecting that to a video resume on YouTube. This way, it’s short and logical enough to include on a resume or another website for promotional purposes.
Step 2: Purchase the domain names
- Corporate branding: If you’re looking to brand your business, then register yourbusiness.com, yourbusiness.net and yourbusiness.org. The reason you need all three is because someone else could purchase one or both of the other two and build a business around it. Also, your competition might be tempted to purchase the other two to piss you off or confuse your customers.
- Personal branding:
- Unique: Use fullname.com.
- Common: You can use firstmiddlelastname.com, nickname.com, or showname.com. A nick name could be shwibbs.com (my nickname from college). A show name could be iJustine.com. If all else fails, register a set of keywords that you want associated with your name and in between the <title> </title> HTML tags, put those keywords followed by your full name, such that “Personal Branding Blog – Dan Schawbel.”
- Asset Branding: If you are branding a blog or podcast series, then purchase either namepodcast.com or nameblog.com, where name equals the name of your show or topic. I see no problem with using just name.com for an asset branding strategy, as long as you find some way to call attention to the media people will be exposed to when viewing your site.
- Redirect Branding: You should purchase the title of your promotional item, such as yournameresume.com or yournameportfolio.com.
Step 3: Point domain names at hosts
Aside from redirect branding, you will have to purchase hosting space in order to fire up your website, which will be connect with your domain. Services such as GoDaddy, Host Monster, Bluehost and 1&1 provide you with packages, where you can purchase a domain name and a host for a single price (domain names are usually free with hosts).
Here are some strategies for you:
- Corporate Branding: Connect yourbusiness.com with an associated web host and redirect/forward your other domain names to it (.net and .org).
- Personal Branding: Take yourname.com and pair it with a host. You should decide if you want your brand’s homepage to be a blog (install WordPress.org) or a static webpage.
- Asset Branding: This is very similar to the other two options, depending on the type of asset and goals behind it.
Why do branded domain names matter?
One of the mistakes I made early in my personal branding career is that I used wordpress.com to host my blog for free (the blog you are reading). Don’t worry because in 2009, there will be a complete overhaul! Branded domains are important because they are credible, rank high in Google and give you branded email addresses that you can use for business purposes.
If you have any domain name questions please leave them in the comments or email me.