Choosing names are hard whether it’s for your child, your pet fish, your boat, or your brand. There are a few ways you can go about creating a name for your business, you can coin a completely new term like Google, you can adopt a common generic word like Kayak, or you can use a combination of generic words and keywords like Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW).

One word, generic brand names are highly valued in the domain world. I’m betting if you have a brand name that is a common word today, but you don’t have a website for it yet, it will be near impossible to secure your brand name in .COM. This is because it is either unavailable or being sold for a ridiculously high price. Domainers and domain name sales indicate that generic word names are valuable, that’s how some are selling for over 2 million like and which sold for 2.8 and 2 million USD respectively. I don’t doubt there are domainers who have gone through the entire dictionary and attempted to register any and every generic dictionary word in .COM, waiting for the right brand to come along with deep pockets. If you’re a small business or start-up you won’t have as lucrative of a budget to spend on your website address so you’ll either want to re-think your brand name or re-think your online branding approach.

We may never know if there is a certain formula that can determine what makes a name good and what makes it bad. A good practice is to say the word aloud and share it with at least five friends for their feedback. Is it a strong and powerful word that resonates well? There may be a case for brands who have keywords in their name or brands who create a unique name having an advantage over brands using generic words as their name. If you want that strong one-word brand name but you don’t have a large enterprise budget you can consider new and alternative domain endings. At the very least it’s something you should take into consideration when registering a name for your brand, especially if you are a small business or start-up.

Each option has its pros and cons:

Brands who create a unique name

Advantages: limited to no competition in acquiring names, trademarks, etc.

Disadvantages: zero recognition, gives no indication of what your brand does, requires heavier emphasis on branding

Brands using a generic word

Advantages: short, powerful name

Disadvantages: high competition in .COM

Brands who have keywords in the name

Advantages: rank higher in search results according to this case study, tells people who you are and what you do from the name, more availability in website options with the New Domains (new gTLDs), memorable

Disadvantage: can tend to get wordy if more than 3 words

A name is important because it’s the way a company introduces itself but a name isn’t everything – it’s what you make of it.