Nontraditional domain extensions hit the mainstream when Google rebranded as Alphabet and chose the new domain name of abc.xyz.
Nearly every article about the corporate restructuring focused on this element of their new brand.
It’s unlikely they would have gotten the same widespread coverage if they’d used alphabet.com as their domain. Or instead branded as Google Ventures LLC or some other bland holding company name.
Instead, their use of a domain extension that played on their new organization’s name turned a business reorganization into a successful brand launch.
So should you jump on the alternative domain extension bandwagon too? Or would a not com name potentially be harmful to your brand? It depends in large part on your brand persona.
The new domain extensions such as .finance, .agency, etc. provide a cost-effective way to signal to customers that you’re a brand that isn’t happy with the status quo. This makes them ideal for companies with a challenger brand persona, or who are presenting an innovative product.
The Not Com Advantage
A not-com domain allows you to create a brand name that’s both meaningful and descriptive—and easier to remember. People have a hard time remember long, cumbersome names. A fun domain name that describes exactly who you are and what you do can provide a boost to word-of-mouth referrals. It may even create a legion of raving brand fans.
Soul.camp is a good example of how the domain name became an embodiment of the brand, and helped create a sense of community. Soul Camp is described by its founders as an “adult sleep-away camp” that offers a wide range of soulful activities—ranging from meditation to yoga to paddle-boarding. Intended to be a “spiritual Disneyland” that provides campers with “a plethora of soulful activities”, it was originally promoted through a website with the unremarkable domain name of soulcamp2014.com.
Once the founders—each working in branding at their day jobs—saw that new .camp domain extensions were available, the new domain became a core part of the business plan that took this passion project from a one-off event to a fledgling business. This nontraditional domain extension has also become a key conversion factor for their millennial customers.
“The ‘dot-camp’ name is a positive thing for us because it’s a discussion piece,” says co-founder Ali Leipzig. “People think it is so cool.”
How a Domain Can Show Commitment to Your Craft
When starting out building a personal brand, many creative professionals create a website using their name. But with parents buying their child’s dot com domain names before they’re even born, it’s increasingly difficult to secure a short, memorable name. And harder still to build a brand around it.
That’s the situation Meg Lebschaur found herself in. As a fledgling photographer, procuring her meg.photography domain was a key component of her marketing strategy.
“My whole life I’ve had a problem with people pronouncing Laubscher or spelling it,” she says. “If they can remember my first name, Meg, and that my industry is photography, they can easily find my website.”
Now, when someone searches for Meg and photography, her domain turns up in the top five of the 15,700,000 search results. By pairing who she is and what she does in her domain name, her domain name provides a good SEO boost. The commitment to the .photography domain also tells potential clients she’s committed to the craft, not someone trying to market themselves as a jack-of-all-trades creative.
When Not to Go Not Com
Despite the many advantages of choosing a new domain extension for your website, there are a few situations where it may not be the right choice for your business:
- Competitive confusion. If your biggest competitor is TechPRagency.com and you buy TechPR.agency, you run the risk that you may drive customers to your competitor’s site. Or worse yet, that competitor might sue you for copyright infringement.
- Less tech-savvy customer base. If you sell primarily to an older demographic, or one that is less reliant on technology, they may not be familiar with new domain name extensions. They may be used to seeing legacy names and there could be a steeper learning curve when explaining your website address.
- Highly regulated industries. When you’re part of a highly regulated industry, you have to be very careful about any implied benefits or outcomes in your marketing materials. And that includes your domain name. A financial advisor might want to think twice about purchasing a .guru or .expert domain. That said, there are a number of relevant new domain extensions that can make it pass your legal and compliance teams’ review.
Picking the Right Not Com for Your Brand Personality
Your perfect domain name should be descriptive, be memorable from a branding perspective, and act as an SEO boost to help your business get found in search.
To come up with a name that does all of this heavy lifting, first think about your brand value proposition. You are a company that does what, for whom, and to what result? For example, you might be a marketing consultant that works with San Francisco Bay Area food manufacturers on branding for international products. In choosing a name that reflects what you do, you might consider foodmarketing.international, internationalfood.marketing or even internationalmarketing.kitchen.
Another approach is to start by thinking through your brand personality. What three words would you use to describe what makes your brand’s voice different from your competitors? If you came up with being a sherpa, being innovative, and being a bit irreverent, the same consultant might consider foodbrandingsherpa.international, internationalfoodbranding.expert, or even internationalfood.guru.
To explore whether a new domain extension may be right for you, visit name.kitchen and try one of these approaches and see where the exploration takes you. You just may find yourself on the way to creating a standout brand.