Why Don’t Some Startups Use Their Domain Name to Brand Their Company?

I don’t get it. I was reading another article on TechCrunch yesterday about a startup company whose brand name is different than the domain name that is being used by the company. I understand that many “cool” domain names aren’t available in the .com, but in my opinion, the company should use another domain name that matches their brand, even if that means coming up with a unique name.

Take the payment company known as Square for example. Square.com has been registered for many years, so they had to use SquareUp.com.   Why not just brand themselves as Square Up instead of causing consumer confusion. Should the company grow extensively, they can afford to spend the money to buy Square.com and then rebrand as Square. This way, there’s no confusion and they’ll control both domain names. Sure, customers who go to Square.com will realize they’re in the wrong place, but why would any company want to take a chance that they would lose a customer.

Yesterday I read about a startup called Lookout, and I visited Lookout.com to check them out. As you can probably tell by the title of the article, they aren’t using Lookout.com, which was registered many years ago. Instead, they are using MyLookout.com, which isn’t a bad domain name. I would think they could match it up and use My Lookout as their brand.

Assuming 15-30% of a start-up’s traffic is type-in traffic, it doesn’t make sense to add confusion to the market while increasing the value of the other .com that is parked and will earn more ppc revenue. As a result of this, the domain owner would be less likely to negotiate to sell the domain name, fearing that the company would try to entrap them by negotiating. Further, there is little reason to sell a domain name whose traffic and revenue consistently grows.

Many people will argue that the domain name isn’t as important as the product or service being offered, and I agree wholeheartedly. However, I think it’s silly to be known as one name but have a different domain name. Square and Lookout are just two of many start-up examples.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. how about the iphone/ipad app called iteleport. There domain name is nowhere close to the name of the app. If they had a whole suite of apps i would understand but they only have iteleport (which is a fantastic app that allows u to conttrol ur desktop/laptop from you ipod/iphone/ipad). And get this, they have tons of t shirts and caps with iteleport all over the place but do not own the domain name. go figure

  2. Very good and seemingly common sense point Elliot. This just proves the fact that no one is an expert in everything and in effect everyone constantly keeps learning something new! This is why us, full and part time, domain investors/developers need to keep educating and in turn profiting from those businesses that do not realize the sheer importance of aquiring and utilizing the right domain name for their particular businesses.

  3. Don’t be too hard on these companies. Not easy or cheap to buy the dictionary term.

    Also, start ups have investors and investors have a say in how the money is spent. Domains fall under the marketing budget and the marketing budget is lower on the list compared to many other components of a start up.

  4. Rob, I think Elliot is saying these companies don’t need to buy the expensive domain, they just need to brand themselves as the domain they get. So if you can’t get Square.com and get SquareUp.com, then brand yourself as SquareUp

  5. I had that…
    I had started doing media work under the name LevTec Media, but levtec.com wasn’t available.
    I’ve tried contacting the owner, and it sounds like he isn’t willing to let it go for anything within what I’m willing to spend now.
    So I got levtecmedia.com, and I’ve been using that,
    The only problem is if I want to add a part of the company, I’d have to get another levtec something .com domain name, and I can’t build on different parts on levtec.com.
    But it’s probably not worth the cost anyway, and better to spend the money on marketing…
    And I did get a few .co domain names, levtec.co among them…
    But I’m not ready to use a .co domain name as my main domain name, though I have a few other short names I registered that I would use for email, and to forward to my main domain.

  6. I think the only alternative would be whereby people are benefiting from brevity. One of the most prominent has to now be Angel List. They still use Angel.co, despite owning angellist.com.


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