Brandable versus Generic domain names

A quick look at the Sedo or AfterNIC weekly sales reports indicates there is a good dose of brandable domain names amongst the top 20 domains sold and they are fetching a good price. On the other hand, if you visit any domain name marketplace, you are likely to find that most of the domains listed are generic domain names with the exact keyword match. Which brings us to the BIG DEBATE! Should a Domainer go for generic domains or brandable domains?

Brandable domains may not mean anything but they are quirky, unique and quite memorable. Most of the world’s popular online portals have been built around brandable domain names.  Examples of these include Google, Twitter, Opodo, Groupon, Expedia, Orbitz, WordPress, RoomKey, Facebook, Pinterest, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Xing, and many other fancy names that startups have been using in the last two decades. Generic domain names on the other hand constitute descriptive keyword rich English words that users are likely to type into their search engines when looking for products and services. Examples of generic domain names include DallasRealEstate.com, DallasLawyers.com, CheapFlights.com, CheapAccommodation.com, NewYorkPets.com and many others. As you can see, the generic domain names deploy exact match keywords that you and I are likely to use to look up stuff on the web. They are quite good for SEO work and usually sell fast on the domain aftermarkets but why is the top end of the market only interested in the brandable domain names?

It is difficult to figure out what goes on in the mind of the entrepreneur but what if Flickr had been founded as PhotoSharing.com, LinkedIn as ProfessionalNetworking.com, or Google as InstantSearch.com, would they hold the same magic over us? What makes a startup choose a brandable domain name like Cloudr.com as opposed to CloudHosting.com? Both names are memorable but one is quirkier. Therein lies the obsession with brandable names. They offer product differentiation which is missing in the more “ordinary” generic domain names. That is why most companies, particularly the online startups, are keen on grabbing unique brandable domain names which are seemingly meaningless but have a powerful resonance with most audiences.

Choosing brandable domain names that will fetch 5 figure or six figure sales values in the domain marketplace requires incredible imagination. Many domain companies specializing in the “brandable” niche have large teams of linguists and brand professionals who carefully select the highest value brandable names that can be used in building robust online brands. A quick review of the last few months’ Sedo and AfterNIC’s Weekly Sales Chart shows brandable domain names, whether 4L, 5L, 6L or 7L are still fetching top dollar. For example, eLend.com was sold for some $140,000 and chrono went for some $45,000 in April sales. This week’s top sales has included HumanPro.com, 30Seconds.com, the 3L ftm.com, youshot.com, the 9L revelator.com, salesfront.com, grapeful.com and wonderzine.com amongst others, all of which sold for over $2000. Quality brandable domain names are often referred to as diamonds amongst a pile of gravels and with a good reason.