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Swift 6: Things to avoid when naming your business or buying a domain

By Nick Leech - September 12, 2017

So you’ve decided to launch an online business. That’s great. But picking a name for that business can be a real headache. In this quick video I’ll talk you through six things you need to avoid when deciding on your business name, and buying a domain name to go along with it. There’s nothing complex or technical in here, but there is some crucial advice that will help you to avoid some potential costly mistakes. I hope you find it useful. And as always, for those who prefer reading, you’ll find a copy of my script below the video.

Oh, and you can click here to buy a domain name from 123 Reg.

Hello and welcome to the latest 123 Reg Swift Six. This week we’re looking at things to avoid when naming your business and buying your domain name.1 – Using a name that’s already taken

A very obvious one this, but it’s still something you need to think about. At the very least, picking a business name that’s already taken will confuse customers. At worst, you’ll end up being sued for breaching someone’s trademark. And of course, if you use a business name that’s already taken, the chances are the domain name will already be taken too. Do plenty of research before you settle on a name. Be sure to check registered trademarks to avoid legal issues, and also check if your preferred company name is available as a domain name.

2 – A complicated name

Facebook, Google, Apple. They’re all names that are short, easy to spell and easy to remember. And you also know that if you put “.com” after any of those names, you’ll end up on that company’s website.

Now imagine a business called something like THJL Top Kent Plumbers. If I was to remember that name in 30 seconds time, I bet you’d have forgotten it.

So what chance does a potential customer have of remember a business name like that? And when you turn it into a domain name, it gets even less memorable. THJLTopKentPlumbers.com sounds and looks terrible.

Keep your business name and your domain name simple. Avoid using special characters. For both memorability and easy of typing, your name should be as short as possible.
Short names are also easier to share on social media where character limits exist.

And whenever your name is listed either on the search engine results page, on an email, or even in print, a short name gives you the advantage of space.

I also strongly suggest you avoid numbers and hyphens in your name. And this is coming from a business with both!

Speaking from the heart, it creates lots of hassle if you have to explain that the number in your domain is a numeral rather than a word.

And the word ‘hyphen’ when passed verbally doubles the size of the domain.

3 – Losing out on your domain

You’re launching a business. You’ve got the perfect name. You check for a domain name and it’s available, but you don’t need a website just yet, so you don’t buy your name.

After a year or two of growth, you decide you’re ready to expand into online sales. You go to buy the domain name that matches your business name… And you can’t because someone else has snapped it up.

This happens all the time, and it can be really frustrating. Yes, there are way to get a domain back from someone if they’re cybersquatting. Yes, you might have a claim for trademark infringement.

But that stuff is expensive and time consuming. So it’s always best to buy up matching domain names as soon as possible. The cost of domain names is nothing compared to the cost of prolonged legal action.

4 – Following trends

As names are in limited supply, misspells or linguistic twists on regular words have become commonplace. Think ‘flickr’ or ‘bit.ly’. It’s even become trendy for tech companies to use an ‘io’ domain.

Consider carefully if you believe this will be a long term trend or will mark out your brand as from a particular era, one which fashion may move on from over time.

Picking a name because it’s on trend can leave you with a business that sounds outdated. If that happens, you might have to rebrand, which will cost you money you might not be able to afford.

Pick a name because you like it, not because you think it’s on trend.

5 – Choosing the wrong domain extension

Should you go with .com or .uk? Or both? With so many domain extensions out there, picking the right one can feel daunting. So instead, look at the process as avoiding picking the wrong extension.

So when it comes to .com vs .uk, either would be fine if you’re looking to focus entirely on UK customers. But if you wanted to sell to US customers then you can rule out .uk as it’s not relevant to that market.

There are also plenty of alternative domain extensions for you to choose from. And the same rule applies. Starting a coffee business based exclusively in London? A .london would do the trick. Planning to expand across the UK? Then you could consider a .coffee.

If you’re still struggling to decide which extension to use, then we recommend that you get a .co domain. This short, sharp extension has proven incredibly popular with brands like Coca-Cola, American Express and Google, thanks to its memorability and availability as well as its general applicability to businesses, regardless of their location or industry.

One other thing I’d recommend is to register your brand name in as many of the well-used domain extensions as you can, and redirect these to your domain of choice. This prevents competitors grabbing those domains and gaining visitors who were actually looking for you.

6 – Deciding on your own

Choosing a business name may feel like a very personal decision. But really you’re looking for a name that your potential customers will like and remember.

So get out there and do some research. If you’ve got money to spend, you might want to go for some full on paid research into your potential name.

If you’re on a shoestring, you can just ask some friends what they think.
Try to gather honest feedback about what appeals and what could be improved. It doesn’t mean that you need to change your choice but you might want to emphasis particular benefits in your early marketing efforts, if the name in itself doesn’t communicate them clearly.

So that was “6 things to avoid when choosing a business and domain name”. I’ll See you next time.