What’s in a (Domain) name?


Internet Domain Name can be an effective tool in the marketing strategy for new e-commerce businesses. An easily remembered (or associated) name can attract visitors to web sites. With most common names already taken, this article explains the importance of selecting appropriate domain names, and provides information on domain name registered process.


Domain Name Registration, Internet Marketing Strategy, Branding, E-commerce marketing.

In Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare posed the question, "What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". This question has proved paradoxical for companies being faced by new challenges of electronic commerce, and seeking the competitive edge that would make their business successful. This article provides information on the topic of Internet Domain Names which can be considered to be the calling card for attracting visitors to web sites. With an exponential growth in web commerce, ‘web-enabled’ Internet companies are employing unique strategies for marketing web sites to first-time and repeat consumers.

The Domain Name System is technically quite complex, but basically it is responsible for translating IP addresses (such as to human-readable format (such as www.1800flowers.com). Typing the domain name in a web browser would cause the system to look up the destination address where data will be sent. Using domain names makes it convenient to remember alphabetical words or phrases without having to remember long numbers. Using analogy of telephones, compare this with dialing 1-800-FLOWERS versus 1-800-356-9377.

Few years ago Network Solutions, Inc. had a monopoly for registering domain names. Last year the White House appointed a non-profit group, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, to regulate domains so other companies could compete with Network Solutions in providing names for top-level domains. Today there are more than 50 companies that register domain names in the top level domain. The most common global top level domains are:

.COM - used for commercial and personal sites

.ORG - recommended for not-for-profit organizations

.NET - recommended for companies involved in Internet infrastructure

.EDU – recommended for educational institutions

.MIL – used by military agencies

.GOV – used by government organizations

Other international domain names such as .co.uk, .ac, .sh, .ws etc. are also available for registration but have to be registered within that country since each country maintains its own domain name registry. For country domain names, example, .in for India, there are additional regulations to be followed, such as the company must be on file with the registrar of companies and the domain must serve network within India, and applicants at the time of registration are required to supply their local IP network block number and other ISP related information while registering.


Registering a domain name today involves few easy steps. In many cases the ISP hosting the web site also provides domain name registration service. However, if a domain name needs to be reserved without actually hosting it at the present time, this can also be done online by going through the registration process online and following the steps below:

  1. Select a catchy domain name and check its availability at a registration site (such as http://www.register.com ). When selecting a name, one must be careful that it does not infringe or violate any trademark or intellectual property rights.
  2. If the name is available, contact information, e-mail address, and a registration free of $70 per domain for a two-year initial period will have to be provided.
  3. Contact the web hosting service or ISP to assign IP number to your domain name.

Once registered, the domain name resides in a central database and the name servers point to the web server where the site is located. This process happens on the back-end and is transparent to the user. Domain names can also be transferred between ISP’s if needed.


Selecting the right domain name is closely tied to one of the four P’s of Marketing (Product, Place, Promotion, and Price). The Promotion component involves personal selling, mass selling, sales promotion, sales personnel, advertising, media selection, and copywriting. Branding a business using a domain name becomes important since a company’s brand is often associated with a concept with a product or service. (What comes to mind when you see the word ‘Lexus’?). If chosen carefully, a domain name offers that right blend of what a business stands for. It also takes a while to be established in the minds of people which is all the more important why appropriate domain names must be chosen. Advertising agencies and branding firms offer services to help companies select domain names consistent with the company image and product/services offered.

Due to the importance of domain names for business and the lucrative market provided by e-commerce, the obvious names have already registered by legitimate businesses or ‘cybersquatters’ who hope to sell the names in the future at a premium to companies. The government has passed an anti-cybersquatting consumer protection act that protects business from opportunists who have registered company trademarks as domain names in bad faith. Registering names may infringe on trademark and patent laws (see, "Give us your domain name", Silicon India, December 1999). There are domain names being auctioned off at Ebay and also sold at professional domain-name auction blocks. Compnaies often go to great lengths in acquiring relevant and appropriate domain names. As an example, one of the online beauty stores catering to women in their Internet Marketing Strategy had wanted a name that was easy to remember. However, the domain name they finally chose was already registered by a parent for her six-year old daughter since it happened to be her first name. The company approached the parent and was able to get the domain name transferred. The price? A trip to DisneyWorld, fully paid college tuition, and stock options in the company for the six-year old. Not a bad investment by any means! Other Domain Names have also been traded for millions of dollars with purchasers (individuals/corporations) believing that common names would drive business to the site and add marketing value that in the long run would exceed the cost of purchasing the domain name.

With most of the common words in the dictionary being taken already, how do you choose a domain name? Here are few guidelines:

  • Domain names should be short and easy-to-remember so they can be typed without errors. Longer names increases the chance that a user may not have it written down and find it difficult to recall into memory.
  • Domain names made from initials are usually not a good idea unless the brand is familiar to everyone and is very common (e.g. IBM).
  • Domain n should be associated with product, service, or company image making it easy to recall.
  • Companies should register alternate names for and re-direct information to one web site so the user has a feel for ubiquitous web site, which can lead to brand identity.

Personal Domain Names

Thinking of going into a consulting business in the future? Want to just put up family pictures to share with friends and relatives? Want a name that people you know would find easy to remember? Why not consider registering your name as a domain name? Similar to automobile vanity places, this would create a recognized identity for friends, family, and business contacts who know you by name. With a web site registered as your name, just by introducing yourself, you have given someone your web site address. It presents practical, professional, and exclusive identity. Creating a brand identity is the first step to establishing a presence. Even if you don’t need it right now, reserving it for the future is a small investment that has long term advantages.

The web has permeated our personal and professional lives and continues to impact our daily activities. Interacting in a new channel necessitates creative ways of thinking for social and business interactions. With the merits of domain names clearly apparent, one should seriously consider registering personal or business domain names quickly before someone else stakes a claim to it on the Web real estate.

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