Choose your business name on domain availability

When you’re launching a business or a brand, a check for domain availability has to be part of the brainstorming.

I worked with Shannon McDonald to launch a hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia. Initially in late 2008, she wanted the product to be the Web presence of a print product she wanted to call NEast Magazine.

It’s not where we ended up.

That domain and the shortened NEastmag.com were then used by a now defunct snowboarding magazine. So we thought more seriously about branding. We decided developing a Web first brand didn’t have to mean we couldn’t someday offer a niche print product if the value was there.

So we went hunting for a domain that fit. Our intention then, as it probably should be for most when possible, was a five to seven-letter domain dot com name that was the same as the brand.

While for brand protection, she bought others, eleven-letter NEastPhilly.com fit and flown well since.

Now, as dot coms get crowded and more crowded still, we’ll see the evolution of upper level domains — geographic specific options like .philly and perhaps more respect for .nets and .infos — but for now, you want it short, you want it a dotcom and you want it the same as your business or brand.

If your domain is long, try to grab something in shorthand that can forward there — like tphilly.com for TechnicallyPhilly.com and WDSTL.com for We Don’t Speak the Language — or get creative with an action, like how I encouraged friend and author Eric Smith to grab ReadTextualHealing.com for the novel he’s self-publishing.

Because by now, existing legacy businesses are online, and no one should start any business ever again without a Web-first mentality. So the question of what your domain will be has to be an early decision.

When going to the clever and strong staff blog of alt-weekly Philadelphia CityPaper, I still often type theclog.com, which of course they didn’t buy when they launched the brand. The Washington Post got picked on for launching World Wide Wilbon without grabbing the domain.

There are countless more examples, of course. So be sure, in discussing a product’s name, the availability of a related domain is also part of the process.