How One-word Domains Became Branding Goldmines
Lemonade. Nest. Snowflake.
These are all brand names of companies that don’t sell what their names suggest. Lemonade doesn’t sell lemonade; it sells insurance. You can’t buy a bird’s nest from Nest, but you can buy a connected thermostat. Snowflake won’t ship snow to you, but you can use its cloud data platform.
These three companies represent an evolution of naming over the past couple of decades and are examples of the hottest names these days: one-word dictionary terms.
There have been a lot of trends in company naming.
When the web was new, e-domains were hot. Just add an ‘e’ to the front of a term, like eInsurance, and your company name was suddenly cool.
Apple made ‘i’ the more popular prefix, and suddenly companies were adding ‘i’ to the front of their names.
Name not available as a .com? Just drop some vowels: Flickr, Tumblr, Scribd.
Or remember the trend when everyone added an -ly to their name, such as Bitly?
These have all been trends, and trends come and go. Choosing a name that’s trendy has a big pitfall. At some point, that trend dies and the company looks dated. Having an ‘e’ in front of a name makes it look old now.
One-word Domains Aren’t A Trend
One-word company names aren’t a fad or trend. They’ve been around since well before the Internet. Companies have long named themselves after individual words that don’t have anything to do with their products.
Apple will sell you a phone or a computer, but it doesn’t stock apples. (If it did, they would be very shiny, easy to eat, and cost a fortune.)
Amazon.com is one of the earliest examples of Internet companies choosing a single word for a brand, at least that survived the dot.com bust. Amazon is a river and region. Amazon.com started by selling books and has never sold tour packages to the Amazon.
Nowadays, the holy grail of branding is being able to lock down a one-word domain and get the matching .COM domain: Cover.com, Clover.com, Bolt.com, Carrot.com.
But high demand for simple, easy-to-remember domain names means high prices.
Last year Carrot.com sold for nearly $600,000. Joyride.com sold for $300,000, and Voice.com sold for a record-smashing $30 million.
Alternatives To One-word Domains
Because most companies don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on domain names, some still use a one-word brand, but they get creative with their domains.
A company called Compound uses GetCompound.com. Cabin chose RideCabin.com.
Others choose an alternate extension such as .IO or .CO.
Made up words also work, but they don’t lend as much prestige and they need to be easy-to-spell.
Choosing something other than the exact-match TLD .COM comes with its drawbacks, though.
Carrot started its business with the domain OnCarrot.com. Even though the company was called Carrot, people started referring to it as On Carrot. Also, other companies adopted the Carrot brand and this caused confusion. Eventually, when it had enough cash, the company bought Carrot.com.
Investing in One-word Domains
Clearly, one-word names are the holy grail in branding and that won’t change anytime soon. Domain investors should consider adding one-word domains to their portfolio to take advantage of this. If the price of these domains is outside their reach, they should consider buying one-word domains in alternative top level domains.