11 Jan 2017
The Branding And Domain Name Dilemma
We are told that our visible branding (company name, logo, colors, graphic style, fonts, etc) is fundamental to our startup. It not only determines how others may judge or assess us, but also serves to influence company culture, team ethos and how we connect with the outside world.
No pressure then.
This article will look at the story of how we decided on the name Smashbomb. Sounds easy, right? Read on!
We collectively decided that the best way to build a startup name shortlist was to start at the domain name and decide from there. Here was the very basic domain name criteria we had:
- .com domain name only
- 2 or less sylabuls
- Positive sentiment
- Social brand options available
- Not a misspeling
- Google search checked – no ‘passing off’ potential
- Brand-friendly (something a protective partner brand would be happy to promote)
Now, to be clear, we did seriously consider a .co domain name and enquired about a fair few. I have nothing against .co domain names at all and believe they have some clear positives, namely that they can make a startup look new, savvy, and fresh. In our case though, we decided that a .com domain name would be a clear preference as we were confident we could find a domain name and brand name strong, yet obscure enough to be available (or at least reasonably priced for acquisition).
It Really Isn’t Easy To Find A Good Domain Name
So, we knew that we needed a name that avoided any variation of the word ‘reviews. We consider our startup to be very different from all of those review portals and the word ‘review’ gave the wrong impression of what we are fundamentally about.
With this in mind, we considered names that covered our main USP – the fact that our platform is primarily about recommending items to your followers, not just adding a review on a semi-anonymous basis to a static page.
So, it followed that naming our startup based around the word ‘recommend’ was considered as an obvious option. This was the first route we took and found the following shortlisted options:
- Recommendy.com – contacted through whois
- Recommendly.com – for sale by owner
- Recommend.it – for sale by owner
- Recommending.com – for sale by owner
- Recommendations.com – contacted through whois
- Recommendal/recommendl – unregistered
- Recommends.com – for sale by owner
- Recommendage.com -unregistered
- Reccle.com – unregistered
- Reccy.com – contacted through whois
- Recoo.com – contacted through whois
- Recoodle.com – unregistered
- Reccs.com – for sale by owner
- Recc.com – for sale by owner
- Recitude.com – unregistered
- Recutable.com – unregistered
- Recommended.com – contacted through whois
- Recky.com – contacted through whois
After much deliberating we weren’t convinced this was the way to go. The names felt very serious/corporate and didn’t really underpin the fun/light outlook we had for the site. Also, our startup would be much more than just a recommendation list and so we felt that too much emphasis on the word ‘recommend’ would be short sighted. It could bite us on the bum!
We moved on.
Next we researched around the word ‘discover’. After all, we were also building a discovery engine – all the time that the people you are following are recommending items to you (or not recommending them), you are in ‘discovery mode’. We considered names like discoveree.com (for sale by owner) but again, quickly realised that it didn’t feel ‘right’.
As time went by, we built a long list of domain name options, many of which were completely irrelevant to our concept but insanely brandable. Here are a few available ‘brandable domains’ we considered that were within our price range:
- mangle.com – for sale by owner
- drawl.com – for sale by owner
- though.com – for sale by owner
- yacker.com – for sale by owner
- yackety.com – for sale by owner
- yoggy.com – for sale by owner
- bloodhound.com – for sale by owner
- moomoo.com – for sale by owner
- snerk.com – for sale by owner
- hubmarine.com – for sale by owner
Again, nothing really stood out.
We then considered the concept of user recommendations being instantly recognizable as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or ‘hit’ or ‘miss’. We liked it. We were immediately excited about the potential ‘word of mouth’ value of this. Could this concept enable our brand name to infiltrate peoples everyday language? “Hey Bob, people have rated Product X as a ‘hit’ so it must be good, whereas Product Y is a complete ‘miss’. You get the idea.
Thing is, the words ‘hit’ and ‘miss’ were unoriginal, flat-feeling and they barely stirred the imagination. We needed something that would be unique, instantly recognisable, and that would make sense within our ethos and branding.
We thought of a whole bunch of different options but eventually decided on a positively-rated item being displayed as a ‘smash’ and a negatively-rated item being displayed as a ‘bomb’ (i.e, to be avoided!).
We subsequently acquired smashbomb.com and moved onto the physical branding journey. This was just the start.
I will keep you informed!
p.s, don’t forget to be one of the first to play with Smashbomb. Join us as a beta tester below…