How do you choose a name for a new company? There might be many rules in that book, but I will tell you rule number one: no matter what the new company will do, make sure its .com domain name is available. If the .com name is not available, and you are absolutely, definitely, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt convinced your market will stay local forever, you can confine yourself to the .co.za domains.
But wait. There is a problem. Many, and I mean many, of the names you would want to call your company are no longer available. And if your company is going to be an online one, and you need a catchy, short and memorable name, then really … good luck.
I have been toying with the business plan of an online company for some time now, and I know that now is the time for me to launch it. Usually, I have the name set in stone before I even finalise the business model, but in this case I knew I needed something spectacular and so I set aside the name choosing until this weekend.
None of my first 30 options were available. None. I thought I would beat the system and find myself some cool isiZulu words to register, because they have a lot of Xs and Zs, which is a cool thing now, you know.
Guess what? Every name I chose from the dictionary had also already been registered. For example:
But that is not all. Domains usually cost about $10 to register, but if you have a cool one that others might want, you can sell it for a premium. And I mean premium. Are there any takers for these?
Team.com: $300 000 (sorry, sold!)
Dudetube.com: $18 000 (also sold)
If you are wondering what people do with these domains, you might want to read a post I wrote earlier this year, “How to make $70-million without really trying”. In short, many of these domains are filled with pages full of ads, and the domain owner is hoping that you will click on the ads and make him some money. Even at only a few cents a click, if you multiply that by a multitude of users and then you multiply that by a multitude of websites, you can, in theory, make some good money. Eric Edelstein recently wrote about how he made $200 in one day, using just this method.
So the best way to choose a name for a company? My advice is to take two completely unrelated words, and put them together to form a new name. No mater how weird it sounds at first, with the right branding and marketing, it will become completely accepted. Think of YouTube.com as an example. Using colours as the first word will run you into problems, as most of those domains are also taken (Yellowpen.com, Purpleballoon.com and Redtiger.com are all taken). But Avidmouse.com and Roundplus.com are available.
Also, it goes without saying, although I have said it many times before, if your name is available as a domain name, buy it now!
I myself own about 30 domain names, of which I actively use about five. The other 25 are sitting on some virtual shelf, waiting for me to find an extra 20 hours in the day so that I can create the killer companies that were the inspiration for the domain purchase in the first place.
As for my latest purchase, this past weekend? After exhausting my isiZulu options, I decided to take two isiZulu words and mesh them up. I now am the proud owner of Amazaza.com. If you think that looks too much like Amazon.com, let me be the first to tell you: that’s a happy coincidence.