Monday, July 31, 2017

How Many Domain Names Does the World Really Need?

Note: The official version of this white paper is available here.  While the one shown below is substantially similar, it is the website version that will be updated to reflect any additions or corrections, and we suggest that you use it for reference purposes.

It is easy to find how many domain names are currently registered. An interesting question to ask is how that compares to the number of domain names that are needed globally. While it is not possible to calculate a precise number, we can make an educated estimate. We provide that analysis in this paper.  This gives us an indication of the growth prospects for the domain name industry, including what component of the market are likely to see the most growth. This analysis may also help inform whether additional new global top level domains (gTLDs) are needed.

How Many Businesses Globally

We start with the premise that the majority of domain names will be utilized by businesses. The number of companies registered on the major stock exchanges is only about 50,000 (you can see the statistics from the largest stock exchanges here).  But most businesses are small and private, not registered on any stock exchange, so we must dig a little deeper for the relevant number of businesses.

For many countries information on how many businesses are registered (at different dates) is given in this resource from the World Bank. For example, in 2007 (the last date with data provided) there were 2.5 million businesses registered in Canada.  In 2005, the last year with data for the United States in the directory, there were 5.2 million businesses registered there, while the United Kingdom had 2.5 million businesses registered in 2007. The population of Canada in 2007 was about 33 million, the USA in 2005 about 300 million, and the UK in 2007 about 61 million. These data suggest a ratio of one registered business per 12 to 60 people.

It is likely the ratio will be less in developing countries, but the goal of this analysis is to predict the number of domain names needed in the medium term future, when development levels become more equal.

If we take the larger value, and assume it could be applied to the entire world population, this would suggest that, with a global population of about 7 billion people, the number of businesses globally might be about 120 million.

Alternative Method

We could estimate the number of businesses in the world another way.  It might be argued that the number of businesses should scale as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), rather than according to population.  Data on the GDP of different economies is given here.  Applying this method, the Canadian economy represents about 2.3% of the world total, so if we scale the 2.5 million registered Canadian businesses to obtain an estimate of the world total number of businesses, we get about 106 million businesses globally.  If we use the USA figures of 5.2 million registered businesses in an economy that (by GDP) represents 24.7% of the global total, we scale to an estimate of about 21 million businesses globally.

These figures agree to an order of magnitude with those obtained in the previous section, although suggest a slightly lower value.  Therefore, considering both techniques, let's revise our estimate of the number of businesses worldwide to about 100 million. The advantage of the second method is that it should more properly handle the mix of developed and developing economies.

How Many Domain Names Per Business

While many businesses will use a single domain name, larger companies use additional domain names, both for different facets of the business (and/or specific product lines), and in multiple countries in which the business operates.  I could not find good statistics on the average number of domain names per business, although a response on Quora estimates that a typical large technology company owns thousands of domain names, many of them unused. A lot has been written lately about domain names owned by the Trump organization, and it appears that the number is at least 3000. Many large companies now operate in a hundred different economies, or more, and need at least that many domains to protect their brand with country specific domain name.

On the other hand, the majority of businesses are essentially a single person, or a few people, engaged in one activity, such as a local contractor or an independent professional.  Most of these need only a single domain name, or possibly two with the second used in marketing and directing to the primary company domain name.

It is probably safe to argue that the average number of domain names per business is higher than 1 and less than several thousand. I think the range is not really as wide as that though, and surely it is at least several, but on average, not more than several dozen.  Let's somewhat arbitrarily assume that the average number of domain names 'needed' per business is 10.

Number of Business Related Domain Names

If we combine data from the previous two sections it suggests that the number of business domain names needed globally would be about 10 times 100 million, or about 1 billion domain names. It should be stressed that we have implicitly assumed that businesses in all regions have reached a technical, marketing and communication stage similar to that of major developed market companies.

But What About Non-Business Domain Name Needs?

Of course many organizations that are not businesses register and need domain names - professional organizations, educational institutions, etc.  It is perhaps even more challenging to estimate this number.  One way to get an estimate is to consider the number of .org domain names relative to the number of .com.  At the current date there are about 128 million .com domain names registered, and just over 10 million .org domain names. This might suggest that the needs of other organizations is of the order of 1/10 the number of domain names needed by businesses, although other organizations disproportionately use country code and alternative gTLDs, so it is likely the 10% estimate is too small, perhaps significantly so. We will assume that organizations that are not businesses might use 20% of the number of domain names utilized by businesses. Therefore we estimate the total number of domain names needed, both for businesses and other organizations, is of the order of 1.2 billion domain names.

What About Domain Phrase Needs?

Recently there has been interest in using domain phrases in marketing campaigns and redirections. For example Names.of.London and NamesThat.win both offer these services (and undoubtedly many others as well).  It appears likely that creative uses of domain name phrases will increase significantly in the near future. Will this significantly increase the demand for domain names? The answer is probably not, since a single domain name is used with multiple first words, so the total number of new domain names is limited (essentially numerous sub-domains are used to support multiple phrases concurrently). While we see extensive growth in domain name phrase/expression use in the coming years, it will probably contribute only slightly to the total domain name market.  Nevertheless, this is an example of the use of domain names in ways that were not foreseen even a few years ago.

What About Personal Domain Names?

In the near future will most people claim a personal domain name?  If this were to happen, the potential market for domain names would be much larger, of the order of the global population of 7 billion.  Clearly at the current time many people have no ability, or interest, in acquiring and using a personal domain name.  Some promote the Montenegro country domain name (.me) as a personal website extension, and that TLD has grown in popularity driven largely by the personal domain market. There is a significant market for personal domain names, and it will probably continue to grow strongly in our opinion.  However, we do not foresee a time when essentially everyone will have a personal domain name. We estimate, somewhat arbitrarily, that perhaps 1 person in 25 globally will want and have the resources to obtain and utilize effectively a personal domain name. This would suggest a need for roughly 280 million domain names for this purpose, or the total number of domain names needed globally for all purposes would be almost 1.5 billion by our analysis so far.

Other Uses for Domain Names

Will applications for domain names emerge that we don't even foresee now? For example, will one or more large retailers assign a domain name to each individual product, or will the ISBN system assign a domain name to each book product? Will advances in biotechnology, or other areas of science, lead to big data situations which are most efficiently handled by assigning a large number of new domain names? Will the structure of the Internet of Things emerge to assign individual domain names to each connected product? It really is not possible to meaningfully estimate the domain name market related to new technologies, but it probably makes sense to include some factor even though it is highly uncertain. We arbitrarily suggest that there might be a need for 300 million new domain names for use in ways not currently conceived and related to modern science, technology and innovation. Therefore we increase the total to 1.8 billion domain names.

So How Many Domain Names are Currently Registered?

A recent report shows that the total number of domain names registered is of the order of 330 million domain names currently registered, with .com and .cn being the most widely held TLDs. Of that total, there are about  27 million new gTLD based domain names,

A good question is how many of these domain names are in active use, rather than simply being held for resale, and what fraction of these are potentially useful in meeting the market need for new domain names. One way to estimate this is to look at what fraction of domain names are parked.  Among the new gTLDs the parked fraction is typically a bit over 60%.  The parked fraction is less for country code and the traditional gTLDs. Of the 330 million registered domain names perhaps 100 million are not actively used and it could be argued that many of these will not be attractive for future use and therefore do not contribute to the future domain name need. That is, perhaps 200 million useful domain names are currently registered.

How Many New Domain Names Are Needed?

Therefore this analysis suggests that there is a need for almost 1.6 billion additional domain names. This will be driven primarily by business uses (about 60%), although non-business organizations, personal domain names, and future domain needs related to technological developments will all play significant roles. The market will decide how this need is met, through country code, traditional gTLDs, existing new gTLDs, closed TLDs, and not yet released newer gTLDs. We summarize in the next section the key results of this analysis.

Executive Summary

  • We estimate the number of businesses globally currently at about 100 million.
  • If on average each business utilizes 10 domain names, this suggests a business domain need for about 1 billion domain names.  
  • Domain name needs of organizations that are not businesses might require about 200 million domain names, bringing the total to 1.2 billion.
  • The growing tendency for personal domain names may add another few hundred million to the potential market.
  • While the domain phrase/expression market will grow significantly, the total impact on number of needed domain names is limited.
  • Future uses, not specifically predicted, related to advanced science, technology and commerce may add another few hundred million domain names.
  • This analysis suggests that the total domain name market is about 1.8 billion domain names.
  • There are currently about 330 million domain names registered, but probably only about 2/3 of those are potentially useful.
  • The analysis suggests the need for about 1.6 billion new domain name registrations.
  • This analysis would suggest that the number of domain names to be registered can increase from current levels by roughly a factor of 5.


Final Notes

This analysis is based on the concept of Fermi Problems, first popularized by physicist Enrico Fermi. He famously used the method to accurately estimate the number of piano tuners in the city of Chicago, and to estimate the energy of a nuclear blast from the displacement of a paper at considerable distance from the blast. The Drake equation, that estimates the number of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy, is another well known application based on similar principles.

The technique cannot provide a firm number, but does provide a more reliable estimate than simply proposing a figure, and makes the assumptions of the components which go into an estimation. It would be possible to use Monte Carlo methodology, based on uncertainty estimates for each component of the analysis, to express likely uncertainty ranges in the final result. Given the difficulty in assigning the component uncertainties, I decided that at the current time the precision of the analysis does not warrant an attempt to use Monte Carlo techniques to estimate overall uncertainties.

One of the biggest uncertainties in the analysis is the number of domain names per business.  Should that number be at the lower end of our suggested range (about 2), this analysis would suggest that the total number of domain names needed is much lower, with business needs almost met by current domain name registrations.

This analysis is offered to the community without any implied or explicit warranty with respect to accuracy or applicability. We welcome comments and corrections to the analysis presented here.

The author, Dr. Robert Hawkes, MSc, PhD, P.Phys., is a physicist and author who has employed data intensive analysis techniques in physical sciences. He operates several websites, including NamesThat.win, a site specializing in science, space and technology related domain name sales and use of domain expressions for marketing.

This paper is ©R. Hawkes, all rights reserved.  If you would like to reprint the article please contact the author for permission and conditions. You may quote small sections in news or review articles without specific permission.  You may also freely link to this site without prior permission.








Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Free Expression Offer for Nonprofits (NOW OVER)

Note that the time period for this promotion has now ended so we have deleted the links in the article for application.  Follow us on Twitter or this blog to be informed if we offer the promotion again in the future.  Thank you.


The Contest

Earlier today we announced a contest in which up to two nonprofit organizations can win an absolutely free 3 month domain expression rental from us.  The procedure to apply is simple: just fill out this form (link deleted since contest over) telling us a bit about your nonprofit organization, what phrase you would select, and how you would use it in a campaign.
Free offer for non-profits to rent an expression without cost or obligation.


Imagine an expression such as young.innovators.win, we.redefine.fun or help.diversify.science pointed to any web page you choose (it can be on your own website or a Facebook page, your Twitter profile, a book on Amazon, etc.). Just to show you how they work, we have made the above links live, but at the moment they point to our own Rent an Expression page.

Technical Requirements

The beauty of Rent an Expression (RaE) is that there are essentially no technical requirements for you - no domain to register, no new website to develop and host.  You simply tell us the URL, and we direct it to your designated page.

Rent an Expression in a Campaign

What you do, is for the period of the expression rental promote the phrase through means such as Twitter, Facebook, word of mouth, publications, etc. This can be useful for time specific marketing, such as for a contest or event, or as a way to highlight a feature of your business or organization. Anyone who clicks on the expression in your campaign materials, or who enters it as the URL in a web browser, will go to your designated page.  Since the expressions are simple to remember, and don't involve any domain hacks, they are effective in promotional campaigns.

Yes, Virginia, This Contest Really is Free

The contest offer for non-profit organizations is really free.  You are not signed up for something you need to later unsubscribe from, and there are no hidden charges. You don't provide us with any payment information.  Our privacy policy says we only use your email address for information related to your entry (and administration of the expression).

Why are we giving this away? 

Partly, after having assisted various non-profit organizations we know that funds are often tight, and any assistance can make a difference in you meeting your goals. Non-profits make real differences in lives, and they deserve our help.  Of course we also hope that the promotion of the contest will help make our Rent an Expression service better known, and will lead to us getting some paying rentals.

How to Win?

We plan to select up to two organizations to win a free expression. Each organization can only submit one entry, even if their are multiple people involved, so coordinate so only one entry is made.  Our selection of winner(s) will not be entirely random.  We will consider the nature of your organization and your proposed use of an expression.  So make best use of that line or two describing your organization and how you would use the expression! If we rate several entries as approximately equal in worthiness, we will do a random selection between them.

How to Apply

How do we apply again?  OK it could not be much easier! Head over to the form here (link deleted since contest over), fill in all required fields (make sure you select your desired expression using the pull-down menu). Perhaps browse our expressions and ideas before filling out the form.  The contest deadline is Aug. 2, 2017.  We will notify winners by Aug. 4, 2017 and the link should be live shortly after that.  The free link is available for a 90 day period and will automatically cease after that time (if you want to extend it beyond that you of course can do so with a paid rental, and we even will give you 20% off the current prices for that).

What Does The Question About You Promoting Link Mean?

This is totally optional, but if you click yes we will list your link on our namesthat.win website, on our Twitter stream, here on this blog and possibly in other ways.  This will help your phrase get known in search engines, and probably help with your campaign. Your chances of winning the contest do not change if you select yes or no with respect to us mentioning your campaign.

What is a Non-Profit?

We do not require that you be a registered charity, simply that your primary purpose is not to make a profit. So most NGOs would qualify. Maybe you are a youth organization, science or children's centre, environmental group, etc. You can be large or tiny. If in doubt about if you qualify, just tell us about your organization in a query.

Is This Contest Only Open to Certain Regions?

No, you can be based anywhere, or everywhere!

How Long Has Rent an Expression Been Around?

We have been in the planning and domain acquisition stage for more than a year, including technical testing, but only went public with the program and website in June 2017.

But We Are Not a Non-Profit!

While the free offer is only available to non-profit organizations, our overall Rent An Expression program is certainly open to businesses! You can see the prices here, most of your questions about how it works should be answered on this page, see the available expressions here, and when ready sign up for the service with this simple form.  Up until 7 days after an expression is up and running you can cancel it without obligation and owe us nothing. Please don't confuse the two forms - the links in this paragraph are for a paid rental, while the links in the previous section are for non-profits entering the free contest.

Do You Give Away Other Things?

Occasionally.  Check this page where any new discounted and free offers will be listed. Some day we plan to give away kindness, really.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Do YOU Mean By Win?

Our recently launched website is NamesThat.Win, and we wanted to take the opportunity to discuss what the word 'win' means. As part of that, we urge you to consider what a 'win' would be for your online presence.

The idea of a domain name and an associated website being a 'win' can be interpreted various ways, including the following.

  • The website should reflect positively on your organization. While content is clearly critical, as well as attention to detail, the impression starts with the name you adopt. Yes, the name can be catchy and even cute, but always in a tasteful way.
  • Honesty is critical. The name and website should reflect what you are about in a clear way. Never use a name to try to pretend your organization and goals are something that they are not. Many will disagree, but I say don't use a .org TLD if you are not an organization, and don't use .com if you are not a business. I wish there were controls so that someone could not use .science if they have nothing to do with science!
  •  The website should be informative.  After I visit your website I should feel that my time was well spent in terms of the valid information that I got in a timely fashion. Even if your primary goal is to sell a product or service, your website should provide information to help a potential purchaser make an informed decision, and provide support documentation. 
  • Is the website sustainable? Is it designed so that you can reasonably do what is required to keep it current? Is the total cost sustainable in terms of the value that the website brings to your organization.  If you go for a premium domain or an expensive .com, can that cost be justified.  Too many people rush into owning too much home for their means, and I find some companies do the same with respect to a domain name.
  • The name should be location appropriate.  If you plan to only operate in a single country, with essentially no customers beyond the borders, it does make sense to use a country specific domain name. Research shows that these are more respected and trusted. However, if your vision extends beyond your home country, seriously consider starting with a gTLD, or possibly multiple TLDs with a common first name. It will be interesting to see how the .gdn (which stands for global domain name) takes off - so far it has seen limited adoption, although that is increasing.
  • Almost all websites should feel current. While achieving this will depend partly on the website design, having current content is critical. Also, start with a name that feels current. Some domain names just feel ordinary and old. I realize adoption has been slow, but I think that the new gTLDs offer real opportunity here. Make social media interact smoothly with your website - it is easy to have your Twitter feed display on your website.
  • Think about the goals of your website. Is it primarily to sell, interact with clients, provide support, contribute to public understanding, provide advertising revenue, or make your organization better known. Make sure your website, including the domain name, is congruent with these goals.
The last point brings me to the primary focus of this post. Before you consider available domain names and how much you are willing to pay, or how you will design and host your website, start with the goals you have for your online presence.  Make a written list, and get the opinion of others on your list, revising it as appropriate. 

So why did we select NamesThat.win? We believe in the long term value of the new TLDs, so wanted to use one ourselves. Also, we see value in using an expression as part of a name, for some clients, and wanted to model that.  As a small operation, but with potential customers from around the world, we wanted a global TLD. Considering sustainability, the domain name was reasonable to purchase and to renew (we have it registered for 5 years). We feel that your consideration of names ideally starts before you have registered a company name or domain name, so we wanted the word 'name' not 'domain' in our website. 

We considered whether .win was appropriate, but feel that a key part of your planning process should be to set your goals and decide what would constitute a win for you. 

Ultimately we plan to offer four types of services.
  1. Sell domain names particularly new gTLDs with a Canadian connection, or in the areas of biotechnology, education,  investing, outreach, science, space, technology, and travel.
  2. Rent domain name expressions for use in promotional campaigns, mainly in the areas of education, science and outreach.
  3. Write and distribute white papers on domain name options.
  4. Provide consultancy on domain name options in areas of education, outreach, science, space and technology.
The first two of these are available now, and we expect to add the last two by late 2017. Ultimately our goal is to help you clarify your goals, to set criteria for evaluating success, and ultimately to help you 'win' by achieving success in those goals. 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Namecheap Sale On Now

In case you have not heard, the folks at Namecheap.com have a sale on right now. Not only are they offering certain domains at just $0.48 USD (plus $0.18 ICANN fee) for one year registrations, but they also they have a great deal on 5 year domain registrations at just $5.58 USD (plus $0.90 ICANN fee). 

The new gTLDs that are in the sale include .science, .win, .bid, .trade, .party, loan and a number of others (20 in total). During the sale you can get the details and complete list here.  While one year .top are offered at the same price, the 5 year offer does not apply to .top TLDs.

We are particularly pleased to see the excellent 5 year price, as that will encourage purchases by those who really plan to use the domain name for a website, and not simply hold it for resale. To get the special deal on 5 years make sure to select that time period (it will default at 1 year).

Note that the multi-year savings only come in when you select 5 year period.  If you select 2 year, the second year will be at the regular renewal rates.

A bit after they started the sale for new registrations, they also offered the same great 5 year rate for renewals of the same new gTLDs. 

One thing to be alert for, I have noticed that they will show a domain at the $0.48 per first year rate, even if it is a premium name, but when it is added to your cart if it is a premium domain it will then show the much higher price.  So do make sure that the price is what you are expecting before you pay and check out.

We don't know how long this will be active, so why not pick up those desired domain names now? The Namecheap system is easy to use with all operations intuitive and transparent.

A Canadian Site: Excellent Domains

We recently came across the ExcellentDomains.ca site that sells a good selection of Canadian linked domain names, as well as showing the prices paid for some that have sold. While there is a pretty strong bias in favour of .ca versus the nTLDs, it is really nice to have this single site with so much Canadian content. According to their reported prices, CreditCards.ca sold for $650,000 followed closely by Jobs.ca at $600,000.

The business is maintained by Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz and members of her family from a site in Ontario. Her personal story is a very interesting one, that you can read about 
here. She is an award winning member of the domain name community, and is frequently a keynote speaker.

Domain Names as Real Estate

People sometimes ask me to explain the whole domain name - web hosting business, and I find the following analogy helpful. While I know that the comparison of domain names with real estate is widely used, I think the following account has some unique characteristics. 

I tell them that owning a domain name is like owning land (well really it is more like leasing land for a certain period of time). You need that land before you can build a house (see next paragraph). Just like the price for land varies greatly, so does the price for domain names. An important criterion for the price of land is the location - land near a city normally sells for more than land way out in a rural area. The similar idea to location for domain names is the top level domain (TLD), some are more valuable (like 
.com.org or .net) and others less so. But just like not any piece of land in a city will demand a good price, just because it is a .com domain by itself does not mean it is valuable.

The new top level domains (nTLDs), things like 
.site or .xyz or .design, are sort of like new subdivisions that are being developed. Initially land there commands a lower price, even if the long term prospects look positive.

Some country specific domain names require you to be from that country to use that domain name. For example, I live in Canada, and .
ca domain name holders must reside in Canada. That is sort of like regions that have rules about foreign ownership of real estate. For the most part the nTLDs don't have specific requirements; you can own a .science domain without being a scientist (I don't think it should be that way, but that is a topic for another post!).

But while location is important, it is not the only thing that matters. Perhaps you really want a site with a nice view or forested property or privacy, these may matter more to you than location. In the same way you may be able to get just the perfect name with one of the nTLDs, so that name will be valuable. Just as we have observed with many cities, land further out has become increasingly more valuable over time, I expect that the nTLDs will increase in value gradually as acceptance grows. The acceptance will require that some people build good reputable websites on the nTLDs.

If you want both a great location and special features, for example waterfront property on a large lot near a city centre, that will indeed cost a lot. That is why a few domain names, mainly 
.com, go for such high prices.

The land analogy to domain names suggests another truth. Land is only valuable if it serves the needs (and desires) of someone. A domain name is only valuable if someone will desire it and find it useful for their purposes. While various factors enter into an evaluation of domain name worth, for example, is the TLD respected, is the name easy to remember and spell, does the name reflect your organization positively, etc.

After you purchase land you usually have a house built, and the analogous concept is to build a website. While you need land to build a house (well if we exclude strata developments, mobile homes or house boats!), the land by itself is not enough for a place to live (unless you want to live in a tent permanently!). Also, you don't need to build the house right away, and that is like those who hold domain names, hoping that they will become more valuable in the future. A good domain name without a good website is a wasted opportunity, so it does not make sense to build a poor website on a premium domain name.

In life our needs change, and most of us live in several homes, in different locations, over our lifetime. That may happen for your organization or business needs. You may need to purchase additional domain names, or may decide to rebrand yourself with a new domain name.

You also don't want people to confuse you with an unsavoury person who lives in the same city. Let's say there is someone who lives in the same area that has almost your name, and he has been in trouble with the courts. You want to take whatever steps are possible to protect your own good name, so people won't be confusing you with him.

For people to find your house they could use the GPS location that you give them (that would be like the IP address in the world of websites), but most will look in some sort of directory to see where you live. The domain name server (DNS) has this role, linking a specific numerical address to the domain name that you have registered. There are actually many DNS on the internet, but they rapidly share the information, so if you move your website to a new location they will be able to find you at the new location.

Just as you can sell land alone (domain name by itself) or land with a house (website with the domain name), both domain names and complete websites are sold in the market. While there are domain name advisors, and others who will act as agents for a domain name purchase or intermediaries in the sale, a standardized domain name agent like a real estate agent is not firmly established.

If this analogy is helpful, feel free to use it. I hope you find just the right domain name! 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

For a really small venture, maybe keep it simple

In most jurisdictions you do not need to register a business name if the name you use is your own unaltered name – e.g. if I called a photography business Victoria Fine Photography that would need to be registered as a business name, but if my names was Jane Doe and I called it Jane Doe Photography I would not need to go through the business name registration process.

I still could register under another name, and there would be advantages in doing so, such as protection from another Jane Doe starting her own photography business under a confusing similar name.

Mainly if you want to have a very small business, with just yourself part-time doing the work, with little potential for legal or financial liabilities,  you might want to keep things as simple and inexpensive as possible.

A one-person business is called a sole-propietership. You still pay income taxes on money that you make, but you will be taxed as an individual. Keep in mind that any legal or financial liabilities are held personally, so you do not have the protections offered by registering a company.

You can still operate a sole-proprietership under a name other than your personal name, but you will need to register that business name.

You still want to have a website, though, and this is where some of the new TLDs come into play. In the case cited, a great domain name might be JaneDoe.photography or JaneDoe.photo for example.

So what are your choices in TLD extensions?  The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) maintain a TLD listing (nicely arranged alphabetically) of the current possibilities.

Some good TLD choices for professionals working under their own name are the following:
  • .accountant
  • .attorney
  • .author
  • .catering
  • .construction
  • .consulting
  • .dentist (or .dental)
  • .design
  • .doctor
  • .education
  • .engineer (or .engineering)
  • .farm
  • .finance (or .financial)
  • .fitness
  • .marketing
  • .photographer (or .photo)
  • .productions
  • .professional
  • .plumbing
  • .realtor (or .realty)
  • .studio
  • .toys
  • .training
  • .vacations
Keep in mind though that being on this list just means that some domain registrars handle that TLD.  It certainly does not mean that all registrars do. If you hope to keep your domain registration, DNS (domain name serving) and web hosting all within one service, for example with Namecheap.com, it's a good idea to explore options before you commit to a name.

Check to be sure of any regulations in your area with respect to business names. An excellent article on Naming Your Business by Canada Business Network has links to the various provincial sites.

The Fine Print: We are an education service, and nothing you read here should be considered individual legal or business advice. Briefly our background is that we have owned a business, managed numerous websites, and registered many domain names. While every attempt has been made to be current and accurate, any details important to the reader should be independently verified. We are members of Google Adsense, so you will see some ads from them on these pages, and also are members of several affiliate programs including Amazon, HostPapa, and Namecheap. We only join affiliates if we use that service ourselves, and have had a positive experience.  Unless we explicitly indicate otherwise in a post, we have not been offered compensation by any company or organization for any post or recommendation.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you consider a name for your business, club or organization.
  1. Is the name descriptive?  If someone hears the name, and did not otherwise know about your organization, would they have an idea about what it about?
  2. Is it positive? If two names are equally descriptive, but one has a more positive connotation, then go with that. But be careful about being so positive others will regard the name as silly or frivolous. Ideally your name should be 'feel good' positive, as in the most effective media advertisements.
  3. Is it easy to remember? If you expect people to tell others about your service, or to look for it on the web, it helps if they can easily remember the name. People being able to spell it is important too! I registered the name and domain chignecto.ca, and it was in many ways a good name for the service: unique, part of our story line, available, legal.  But people unfamiliar with the name have constantly misspelled it!
  4. How unique is the name?  You don't want confusion between you and someone else, so this argues for a name that is easily differentiated from others. Be creative as a team when choosing a name for your startup.
  5. Is the name available?  This is necessary but sometimes overlooked.  You want the name to be available both as one that can be registered as a trademark and/or business name in your region, but also as a domain name and possibly on social media, for example as a Twitter handle. 
  6. Can it be abbreviated?  Some names can naturally be abbreviated, and that is usually a plus,  helping make the name easy to remember.  Make sure that the abbreviation will itself not be a negative though (some time ago a Canadian political party almost adopted the name Canadian Reform Alliance Party).
  7. Is it legal? You are not allowed to use a name that would be deliberately confused with another business or organization. Before registering your business name this will be checked, but it is good at the outset to make sure your name is not too similar to an existing name that operates in a similar business.
  8. What TLD is natural for your venture? You should think about the domain name at the same time as you consider the company, brand, or organization name. Now that we have many top level domain (TLD) choices, you should ask yourself if one of these makes more sense than the generic ones. For example, if in the design business. surely a name ending in .design makes sense, or if you are naming a new club, why not use a .club TLD?
Picking names is both easy and hard! It's easy, because you start with a good knowledge of what you want the name to reflect, and probably already one or more choices in mind. It's hard because there are so many potential options, and the choice will be important to the success of your venture.

You should be involved, so never farm out the entire name selection process to outside firms.  That being said, those with experience and expertise can provide invaluable expertise.  Even if you decide not to hire a name consultant, you should at the very least bounce your proposed names off colleagues and friends.  This is too important a decision to base only on your opinion, no matter how creative and smart you are!

The Canadian Business Network have a helpful short post that includes their take on questions to ask yourself when choosing a name, along with the legal requirements with respect to business names in the various provinces.

Want a second opinion? This article in Entrepeneur on 8 mistakes to avoid when naming your business is well worth a read.

This site is about giving you help as you decide on the name that will represent your business, service, or organization. 

In all our posts please feel free to comment, even if you disagree with the advice we offer!

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Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions t...