Trademarks are important and give companies legal protections around their brands. But domain names have become just as important if not more; and not only domain names but user names around social media. I saw the article below today in the Wall Street Journal and I believe this is just an early example of a problem we are going to see more and more.
If you want to grow today, you not only need to use trademarks and reserve domain names, you need to reserve your proper user names under social networks. If you did a good job in choosing a name for your company this isn’t too hard to do. But if you delay you can lose important opportunities to market your business. Here are a few ideas that might help you take advantage of this.
Choose A Good Name
It might be too late for some of you, but if you are naming a business or a new product, here are some considerations…
Check with your domain registrar to ensure that the name you choose is available as a dot.com domain name.
There are two philosophies about choosing a business name. Both have valid points:
1.) Choose a name that is very unique and make it into whatever you want to.
This philosophy states that it is smarter to define your business around whatever unique and smart sounding name you can come up with. It’s easier to find an available dot.com and to reserve the name under any/all social networks. Many very successful companies have done just this (think Google, Facebook, & more).
The other benefit to this is that it allows you to move into more than one area of business and doesn’t limit you by the name… OR
2.) Choose a descriptive name that simply states what you
This philosophy states that you should choose a business name that is descriptive of your business or product and try to acquire the dot.com domain name that matches. If you have or can acquire a very descriptive domain name, this has been successful for many online ventures such as Hotels.com and many others. It’s not always easy to get descriptive dot.com domain but if you can then it can give you a head start and some generic type-in or direct navigation traffic to your web site.
Regardless of the direction you choose keep the following in mind…
Use A Dot.Com Domain For Your Website – Try to get a dot.com domain for your business or product. You will benefit by the massive amount of advertising that goes into the dot.com ending on television, radio, and other media.
Stay away from using dashes in your domain name. If the names you are considering are not available without dashes under dot.com, keep trying. By using your imagination you’ll be able to come up with something you like and that meets the criteria we are discussing here. It may take some time but you can do it and it is worth the effort.
Your Name Should Be Easy To Say And Spell – You are going to be telling people to look you up on the Internet and to email you every day. Why pick a name that makes that job more difficult. You don’t want to have to spell out or explain a variance in your business name to every person that hears about it. That can get old real fast.
http://BrandBucket.com If you choose to go route #1 and create your own unique name, this site offers some ideas and, for a fee, some interesting and well-thought-out brand-type domain names along with logos.
Stay Away From Cute Text-Talk Spellings – like Cars4u or WeCome2you, etc. These offer too many chances for error and are examples of how complicated it can be to explain a name to future consumers. Think of how many ways you can spell 4 or 2 (4, four, fore, for, 2, too, to, two). Don’t do this to yourself, your employees, or your future web site visitors.
Consider The “Memory Test” – At any given time that you send out an ad or a message meant for consumers, they may or may not be ready for your product. But if they become ready in six months, will they remember the name of your business or of your web site? If not, you stand to lose significant business.
Poll Your Friends and Relatives – Spend some time polling your friends and relatives on the best name for your business or product. Consider running a poll or two.
http://Pickfu.com – This site allows you to poll random Internet users in a very short period of time and very inexpensively. Get other people’s opinions very cheap.
Use a Short Name / Domain Name – Short names are usually easier to spell and easier to remember.
Protect Your Research – While checking if the dot.com domain name you want is available make sure that you are logged in to your registrar’s web site and that the look up is done securely (under https). This is because there have been reports for many years that con artists spy on domain name whois lookups to find good ideas and then register names to extort the original thinkers who are checking for them. Although no one has been able to prove who these people are or how they do this, the coincidences are too close for comfort. So the best known way to prevent this is to do your research while logged in to a trusted registrar while doing so and using a secure connection.
http://NetworkSolutions.com , http://Name.com & http://Moniker.com all offer secure whois domain name look ups when you are logged in. It appears that http://Godaddy.com doesn’t (although I like them as a registrar).
Protect Your Name On Social Networks – Once you decide upon the best name check at least the most important and popular social networks for your user name and open an account to reserve it in as many as you can. If you don’t have a lot of time to do this then use a service.
http://namechk.com / – This site checks almost 90 social networking sites for your user name. You can click on any of the available ones to get to the site and register.
http://knowem.com – If you prefer to have someone do this for you, try Knowem.com. For various fees they will register your name across as many social networks as you want.
Protect Your Brand Globally – If your company does business globally, you’ll need to protect your brand in many of the other countries around the world by registering your domain in the various country-code top level domain names such as .co.uk and .de (Germany). The best way to do this is to use the services of a specialty domain registrar that does this type of thing such as http://Safenames.com or http://MarkMonitor.com .
Consider a Trademark on your business or product name. Trademarks are important if you are planning a national or global marketing effort.
http://LegalZoom.com – As I write this LegalZoom.com is advertising basic trademark protection for as little as $600 US dollars including the Government filing fees.