When I attended Affiliate Summit West in January I heard John Chow say that his biggest blogging mistake was building his brand on JohnChow.com . His reason was that he doesn’t think he can ever sell the name. I told him that I know of several cases where building a brand of YourName.com didn’t inhibit the ability to sell in the future. To be fair to John, he would never sell JohnChow.com even if he had nothing sitting on it. After all, he didn’t name his child until making sure the domain name was available.
One prominent example of someone selling TheirName.com website is Dan Kennedy. When he sold GKIC, it included the Dan Kennedy brand. Dan still writes for them, and is still the face behind the brand…but he managed to exit from the investment, and probably for a hefty sum. I consider Dan Kennedy to be one of the smartest marketers of our time (behind Robert Cialdini), and I have no doubt that he put some thought into building his DanKennedy.com brand as well as Glazer Kennedy Style Marketing.
The argument of course to building on YourName.com, like I did with DavidMelamed.com is that it’s building value for you. In the future, one venture might disappear, but your name will always be the same. Regardless of where life takes you or what you do in the future, building your credibility and audience on yourname.com lets you build credibility that suits you.
At this same session at ASW14, Syed Balkhi, insisted that the best way to build a brand is on a descriptive and brandable name like his WPBeginner.com brand. He continued that your brand name will reflect on you as an individual, so if you build a brand on a descriptive name and people know you built it you will get that same credibility and have an asset you can sell easily.
Think about the name Shoemoney for a second. It is a perfect brand name. Not only is it a persons known nickname, it is also a name that is synonymous with the general idea of the Shoemoney blog, which is money making strategies for anyone. Skills to pay the bills and cash you can store in your shoe. The brand can easily be sold and it also builds Shoemoney’s personal brand. The truth is, law firms are almost all named after the partners in the firm and law firms sell all the time. If you have consistent revenue there is no reason you can’t find someone willing to buy the potential of those future earnings from you. Still, choosing the right name is crucial for business.
There is a great book, written by Claude C. Hopkins, the man believed to have invented one of the greatest advances in marketing, The Coupon. He invented it to test messages against each other. Coupons were originally created to measure the results of your marketing and strategies.
Claude wrote a book that David Ogilvy said should be required reading for anyone in marketing. I personally read it at least once a year. It is an easy read, and it has timeless advice. It’s called Scientific Advertising, and I highly recommend you read it. One of the things in marketing that I find fascinating is how one day everyone says marketing is changing and the next day I read a book written 70 years ago advocating the new strategies of today. I think the reality is that many of us are on the same journey, but at different stages of development. As you gain more knowledge and experience you start understanding things better, and many things you dismissed decades ago now come into focus and make sense.
Simon Sinek said, “If You Don’t Understand People, You Don’t Understand Business.”
John Carlton once told me that, “Human Nature Hasn’t Changed Since The Caveman Days.”
This leads me to a fundamental rule of marketing, especially in a dynamic world. The fundamentals about what drive people hasn’t changed, so the packaging of your marketing might change, but your core message should not change. Much like I discussed in my post about sustainable strategies in a dynamic world and Melamed Style Marketing.
Back To Claude Hopkins and his timeless branding advice about choosing the right name. Claude explains that there are three types of brand names one might choose.
1. A descriptive name that aids the advertising – “There is a great advantage in a name that tells a story. The name is usually prominently displayed. To justify the space it occupies, it should aid the advertising.” His examples are Cream of Wheat and May Breath. I think in today’s age, a good example would be Groupon, which sells coupons for groups or Facebook which was a book/directory of faces.
2. Coined terms, or in our terms, brandable names – These include names like Google and Yahoo. They are a blank slate and with enough advertising can come to be as powerful as a descriptive name that aids the advertising. However, without massive distribution, a blank slate brandable domain does not seem to be the optimal choice.
3. A generic term that can mean different things to different people. An example would be Outreach Center, a car donation charity in Brooklyn. What outreach is it? Is it outreach for kids at risk, is it religous outreach, or is it blogger outreach. Because it is a generic name, it already stands for something in peoples minds and can’t be associated with a brand. Claude goes on to say, “When a product must be called by a common name, the best auxiliary name is a man’s name. It is much better than a coined name (brandable name) for it shows that some man is proud of his creation. This message is key here.
My biggest pet peeve online is navigating to an about page on a website and reading some generic message about nothing and no one. I want to read about the founder, I want to meet the team, I want to connect with a fellow human being. When I go to the about page, freaking tell me about you, not about how talented you are at paying someone $5 bucks to write a few paragraphs of empty fluff.
All marketing is communication and authentic communication is person to person. Choosing your own name as the brand you build a blog on shows that you are proud of your work. Proud enough to not hide behind fences but put your face to the work. Proud enough to be transparent and most important, willing to connect with others as an individual. All things considered, if you are thinking of starting a blog I advise you to build it on your own name, you can still sell it, and it works great. The only exception to this rule is if you can get a name that aids in the core messaging.
For example, Shoemoney, or if you are focusing on a niche, like WPBeginner and don’t care if your name is behind it or not. However, if you are starting a company, I would advise you to put some thought into what type of name will resonate with your audience. For example, I have a brand called Tenfold Traffic, and a Brand called Customer Hunter Corp. Both serve as PPC and content marketing agencies. Yet, most of my clients hire me through DavidMelamed.com. Why? Because they got fed up with the agency model of being pawned off to a low level account manager and wanted to work directly with a ppc specialist. In fact, this has become my core value proposition.
That being said, I once had a guy hire me saying, “I used to work with a REAL AGENCY,” and then went on to describe one of those shady seo shops that is only good at one thing, taking your money. This guy didn’t view me as a serious company, but rather an individual he can walk all over.
Another example is the Junk Car space. Many companies in the industry use multiple brands to generate leads. If people are expecting a page to be a small junkyard website, you might be more effective with a domain like, “JimsJunkyard.com” versus “carscash”. Both are decent names, but one has a personal touch. One invokes trust, or at least humanity, while the other could easily be a spammer. That being said, if you are branding a new medicine, you probably don’t want to call it, “DavesElixir” but rather “penicillin”.
Each market and each consumer has different expectations of what a name means in a market. Take the time to see which names resonate best with your industry, and go and create a name that suits you. WARNING: Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with the name. While there are certainly better names than others, there is never just ONE name that can work for you. If someone else owns the domain name and wants to charge you $80k to buy it…change your freakin name!
There was a great post on Copyblogger last week about a band called Death that was offered a record label deal if they would just change their name. They were in love with their name, refused to change it and all but went undiscovered until the end of their lives. So, take the time to choose your name properly, but be sane enough to change it if need be.
Here are a few tools I lean on to find good name ideas.
Here are a few more tools you can use to choose the perfect domain name.