Lessons From 2012: It’s All About Short And Brandable

I thought tonight I would take you all into a time machine with me so we can travel all the way back to 2012. I learned a lot of lessons in 2012 and you can bet I’ll be sharing many of them with all of you. One of the most valuable lessons I learned directly from my own personal sales and the prices I sold for was the incredibly value and liquidity of short brandable domains.

When I started-out in the Domaining world I was all about exact-match domains, two words, three words, four words, I didn’t care, I just wanted to exactly match terms with high search volume. While this turned-out to bode well for me on the development side, it didn’t do much on the sales side.

What I found is that a new company that builds cellphone apps wasn’t necessarily excited by a domain like CellphoneApps.com. Instead they wanted something short and brandable like Apperly or Appersize. More often than not they would opt for a brandable one-word domain, most of the time they wanted .COMs but if they didn’t have the budget for it I found .ME and .CO to be popular alternatives.

When I would present exact-match domains that described the category the company was in, I found that many companies still pushed for the one brandable that they had in mind. Of course I can’t speak for all buyers, I can just talk about the experiences I had.

The big lesson I learned is that we are entering a time where short, brandable domains are king. Yes, .COM is still king and short brandable .COMs will always fetch the highest prices. That being said there is a market for short brandable names in other extensions like .ME and .CO.

One final lesson within this lesson was that .NET and .ORG aren’t as cool as they used to be. I found end-users tended to prefer a .ME or a .CO to a .NET or .ORG. In fact, not a single end-user I worked with would consider a .ORG because they all didn’t want to be confused with a non-profit and thought they would have to constantly explain to people that even though they were a .ORG, they were not a non-profit.

I think Michael Berkens says it best in what was one of my all-time favorite posts:

In the world of 1,000 new gTLD and what we have already started to see is for domainers is going to be all about branding. It’s not about the domains or the extension but about brandable domains which would give an end user an memorable internet presence.” (TheDomains – It’s Domaining 6.0 & It’s Is All About Branding)

So while you might be excited about buying BuyElectronicTrumpet.com, know that the hottest electronic trumpet maker in the world might want something like Trumpetly or Trumpet.me, even if “buy electronic trumpet” get 10,000 exact-match searches. Remember, Domainers care about things like exact-match search volume, end users care about creating memorable brands.

Morgan

Co-Founder at Fashion Metric
Morgan Linton was born in Berkeley, California but spent nine years traveling the world as an early employee for digital music startup Sonos. In 2007 Morgan founded Linton Investments, a domain name and branding company that has helped some of the most recognized startups in the world acquire their top choice domain name. In 2012 Morgan left his full-time job to co-found Fashion Metric, a next-generation platform aimed at changing the way guys shop for clothes online.

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Bako.com January 2, 2013, 8:00 pm

    End users need to get in the habit of buying both :)

  • SF January 2, 2013, 8:01 pm

    And someday they will realize …They Should Have Gotten Both!

  • @Domains January 2, 2013, 8:09 pm

    By short brandables do you mean made-up words or simply something pronouncable that isn’t a dictionary word? Those probably work for .com, if it’s a .me or .co they would probably prefer a dictionary word. A made up word on a .me or .co gets too confusing.

    My best sale (and highest initial offer) for 2012 was on a five letter pronouncable .com (made up word), so I see what you’re saying here.

    It’s all about the best keywords in .com being taken now, or out of reach price wise. What are going to be the secondary keywords and extensions that people will settle for going forward?

  • Kevin M. January 2, 2013, 10:33 pm

    As always a nice sharing post Morgan. But…

    It seems to me, per your posted scenario, that you’re more-so describing selling start-ups, or company’s looking for a branding identity domain for their business’ name. That’s different than selling a domain to a established entity whereby their name is set, but EMD’s and descriptive generics would be beneficial to their online marketing efforts. Per your Cellphone Apps setting above, yes they may prefer to buy and name themselves Apperly or Appersize, but they’d be dam fools not to want CellphoneApps.com also, as that is their business forte. And you, or any dn seller, would be a fool to not have seen, and exploited, the opportunity to sell them ‘both’ appropriate domains. Just pointing out different domains fit different needs for buyers, and different and more opportunities for sellers to sell them more than one name.

    ;-) Happy New Year to you and Daina!!

  • Morgan January 2, 2013, 11:15 pm

    Agreed @Bako.com and @SF!

    @Kevin – good point and very true, preference definitely does vary by buyer. That being said I do think that there are many more buyers for solid one word domains (dictionary and brandable) than there are for exact-match names. Happy New Year to you too my friend :) Let’s discuss more over a beer!

  • Bruce Diller January 3, 2013, 6:22 am

    As Rick Schwatrz has been fond of saying ‘it’s all about the radio test & .com is king’

    I own a .com that an app developer reached out to buy from me. He made a very low offer I countered and he set up his app on a .mobi extension.
    Short story is MY .com got lots of traffic (and sales) thanks to his marketing and his app failed misrably dispute GREAT reviews and public attention.

    People remember what they hear ONLY if they have something in the real world to anchor it with… Short memorable and .com

  • Logan Flatt January 3, 2013, 8:54 am

    Thought I’d give an actual case study example of what Morgan is talking about here.

    On 3/22/11, I paid $79 at NameJet.com for Tabletize (dot) com. No other domainers wanted it apparently.

    On 6/24/12, I sold it for $4,500.00 as a Buy Now at Sedo.com to a tablet app development company in Milan, Italy (despite the “-ize” being an Americanism of the rest-of-English-world use of “-ise”!).

    After Sedo.com 10% commission, that’s a 5,026.28% return on investment after a 460-day holding period. Not too shabby.

  • Logan Flatt January 3, 2013, 9:03 am

    Regarding .org, I think good, three-letter .org domains are still viable.

    On December 14, 2012, I sold ilf.org at Afternic.com for a 130.98% ROI after only a 19-day holding period following an NameJet.com auction. End user buyer had a website up at the site within the week.

    The key here is good letters in the right positions, not crappy letters or good letters in the wrong positions.

  • Leonard Britt January 3, 2013, 6:50 pm

    My largest Spanish domain sale was a short, brandable .COM with zero GAKT search volume. However, the seven-character name made sense for an auto website and a Colombian news publisher bought and developed the name.

  • voxala.com January 12, 2013, 10:50 pm

    Brandable domains are smart investments if you know how to pick them. I’ve seen some really horrible domains that people try to pass off as ‘brandable’… like cloap degeg, lodeb… What? lol

  • Irfan July 25, 2013, 4:54 am

    Just read Elliot’s view about brandable and followed a link from there to here. I appreciate both views for brandable and are true. I think, a balance approach is needed. Get the EMD’s as well as brandables like some companies do — they have a brand but they buy generic domains also.

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