Beyond the dotcom: why it pays to be creative with a domain name

Lisa Box, SVP of Business Development, Identity Digital, discusses the various benefits new top-level domains (TLDs) have brought startup founders, and what entrepreneurs can learn from their successes
Lisa Box
Dotcom graphic

Amidst all the planning, strategising, and excitement that comes with building a business, some things will naturally get more attention than others. Brushed aside as a mere detail, for some entrepreneurs, a domain name is purely functional. A collection of numbers and letters leading to a digital space they’ve claimed as their own.

And that’s true: function is important. But the truth is, the right domain name can serve a multitude of purposes beyond just being an address to a piece of digital real estate. In fact, with the recent boom of new TLDs — the collection of letters after the dot — entrepreneurs have new opportunities to not just elevate their branding but state their values and company mission by using clever suffixes to their domain names. What that means is that entrepreneurs no longer need to rely solely on a traditional domain name for their branding and can now get creative.

Businesses like Levels.fyi, Co.school, and CulturalCurrents.Institute are strong examples of this creativity, highlighting what a unique web address can do for a company. Regardless of the industry or the size of a firm, looking for a memorable domain has proven to be a powerful tool in helping firms stand out in their respective, competitive sectors.

Brand and domain become one and the same

Creating a brand name, vision, and mission is one of the most exciting phases when starting a business. One firm, however, was able to tie all three of these elements together in one: Co.school. The firm’s name, domain address, and mission statement were all encapsulated in these two words.

The company aimed to help individuals advance their communication skills so as to collaborate more effectively in the working world. Kevan Gilbert, the CEO of Co.school, highlighted how important it was that their brand name and logo explained who they were and what they do in just a couple of words. This ensured the company was memorable for its consumers no matter the medium - whether a web address or social media handle.

Championing transparency from the dot

Today's markets are rife with competition and disruption. With so many startups and established players around, standing out online is the key to reaching your target audience. Some opt for quirky, made-up words as their calling card. But in busy industries, clarity can work wonders, too. That’s exactly the route that founders Zaheer Mohiuddin and Zuhayeer Musa took in 2017 when they founded Levels.fyi.

The company aimed to resolve the endemic issue of opaque salaries for job hunters in the tech industry. The domain they chose uniquely spoke to both their offering and their promise of transparency and clarity.

By opting to go for an alternative domain name, their web address became synonymous with their brand without losing any clarity on the service on offer. Since its founding, the firm has rapidly become the go-to source for tech job candidates seeking salary information - so much so that it even caught the eye of industry giants like Google and Amazon.

A direct address to your audience

Standing out is not the only thing that matters when it comes to domains. To be seen and heard by the target audience, savvy entrepreneurs can speak the language of their industry from the heights of the address bar.

That’s what Cultural Currents Institute (CCI), a full-service PR, marketing, and branding agency, did. Merging their specialism in applied psychology and behavioral sciences with the media’s need for credible insights and resources, the name speaks to the agency’s position as a provider of both.

This strategic decision definitely and immediately delivered results. By changing nothing more than the extension, their web address jumped 31 points in its domain authority. Jack Carpenter, the founder of CCI, expressed how the company’s site visits tripled with over 25,000 visitors in a single week - all without spending a dime on advertising.

Find the insight that works best for your venture

A traditional domain name is a tried and tested candidate for many - and there’s a reason it’s endured in its popularity. And for many, it remains a solid option for entrepreneurs, no matter the industry.

The thing that’s clear is that traditional domain names are no longer the only option for success in digital spaces. As new TLDs for domain names grow more popular, entrepreneurs shouldn’t just take note. They should take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to them to get creative via this powerful new tool.

Written by
Lisa Box
Written by
January 18, 2024