According to an article written by Erin Griffith and published in Fortune, “[t]he latest trend in startup names is regular old human names.” The “human” brand names are becoming popular because they supposedly help to “humanize the software they’re selling.” The author also discussed other startup branding and domain name trends that have occurred, including the trend to use a .LY or .SY domain name.
Most interestingly, the five startups that were cited in the article (Oscar, Alfred, Benny, Lulu, and Clara) don’t use exact match domain names for their websites. Instead, they use domain names that contain their name within the url.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see who owns the exact match .com domain name, and here’s what I found:
- Oscar.com – Owned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences because of their Oscar Awards.
- Alfred.com – Owned by a publishing company of the same name.
- Benny.com – Owned by someone named Ben.
- Lulu.com – Owned by a company called Lulu Press.
- Clara.com – Privately registed and listed for sale in the Archeo marketplace. Domain name is currently parked.
With the exception of Clara.com, it seems that all of the other exact match .com domain names are developed and not listed for sale. This likely makes it less confusing if a prospective customer directly navigated to the exact match .com domain name looking for the company with the same name. If they were confused about where to find the company’s website, they would likely visit Google and search for it that way.
Interestingly to me, the author wrote that “choosing a startup name used to be all about scoring the domain name. That has become less important with the rise of mobile, where users find apps in by searching an app store.” My opinion is that the exact match .com domain name is not nearly as important as the product or service, but owning the exact match .com domain name will help consumers find the company much more easily and eliminate an opportunity for confusion if another company owns and uses the exact match .com domain name. There is a reason why companies like Wedgies.com start out on an alternative domain name and then buy the brand .com domain name at a later date.
As someone who buys domain names for investment purposes, it is important to know about the startup branding and domain name trends, and I don’t think I would have noticed this without reading the Fortune article. I happen to think the domain name is still an important piece of the puzzle.