Five Tips to a Great Domain Name

Some say that all the good ones are taken.

Finding the perfect domain name to represent your business online can feel like searching for the perfect mate. You fall in love with a name or concept, only to find its been “cheating” on you with a different company – already committed to serving someone else’s brand. 

Just as there a lot of “fish in the sea,” domain names and variations abound! Don’t lose heart. You simply have to be creative and open to some alternatives.

Maybe you’re tempted to change your business name so you can get a domain name that matches. Hold on a minute! Let’s look at some phrasing options before you turn your existing branding on its ear.

Let’s say your business name is Ray’s Pizza. And there are lots of other businesses that go by a similar name. Online, you find that “” is taken. Here are some ideas for alternatives that work, that still support your online brand.

1. Add a Hyphen.  Adding a hyphen between each word in your domain phrase can open it up to more online possibilities. “” It also can make it easier for people to read your business name through its dot-com phrase.

2. Add Words that Make Sense.Adding a simple word or two to a base phrase already taken can also open up availability. It also can help you stand out so you don’t get mixed in with the others similar to you. For instance, a pizza shop might use its location, “RaysPizzaOnFifth,” or a description, “OriginalRaysPizza” or “RaysPizzaOnline” to stand out.

3. Use a Command.Part of marketing is getting your base to do what you want them to do. Why not incorporate that in your domain name! Invite them to use you! “GoToRaysPizza,” “ChooseRaysPizza,” “HungryForRaysPizza” are a few variations. I’m sure you can come up with a few for your own industry.

4. Drop the Business Name. Sometimes a clear, simple phrase with a keyword can be even better than using your real business name – especially if the name of your business is tough to spell or to remember. “Ray’s” is easy enough, but what about “DiGiacomo’s Pizza”? Instead of frustrating people trying to find you online who can’t quite get your name right, try restating it all together. “EatMorePizza,” “HotFreshPizza,” “PizzaMadeFresh” could all work really well.

5. Add Your Location or Territory.Some businesses only serve a certain corner of the world. If you want to focus on being the one to call for people in your region or town, you can also add that to your domain name to help you stand out. “PizzaForSoho,” or “RaysPizzaCleveland” – your site visitors will know they’re at the right site. The same goes for other industries… “OfficeCleaningDallas” … “NursingCareInBoise”… “ChicagoBusinessMarketing” … you get the picture.

Those are just five tips to get you started. If you have more to add, just leave a comment to share! 

Your domain name search doesn’t have to end in heartbreak. Taking a slightly different approach can even help you stand out in the minds of your audience. Just be sure to be clear, be true, and make it easy for folks to find you without having to spend much time figuring it out. All it takes is the right words.


Changing Minds by Changing Words

  Finding the right words – crafting an exact persuasive image – is like using your pen as a surgeon’s scalpel. Of course, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to craft a strong slogan, but those delicate shifts in word choice can certainly affect how people’s brains process the message.

I’ve purposely avoided political topics in this blog, which may explain my silence over the past week or so. (“If you can’t say anything nice…”) But here are a few interesting shifts in propaganda on hot topics worth noting.

GLOBAL WARMING: Is it getting cold again? The latest Farmer’s Almanac claims that we may have a long, cold winter this season. They cite lots of natural indicators, like early fog and more nuts on the trees than usual.  Globally, there are many scientific sources (from actual meteorologists) who fear that global warming may simply be popularized bad science. My three lousy science classes in college do not really qualify me to form an opinion on this matter – I’m just focused on the words.

So, when it’s February in northeast Ohio, where’s Al Gore when you need him?

Well, it’s tough to host a Global Warming rally in the snow. So the advocates carefully shifted the conversation to “Climate Change.” Smart move, as the climate is always changing. That’s what climates do. How can one argue against that?

The well-crafted shift from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change” helps keep their momentum.

WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE: Here’s a hot one… the abortion issue. How a bloody means of birth control has been linked to women’s status in our society and their economic well-being is beyond me. But the movement may be taking a more direct approach to their propaganda.

“A Woman’s Right to Choose” as a slogan may be losing effectiveness. To counter that, in comes “A Woman’s Right to Privacy.” From Choice to Privacy. A brilliant shellgame of words that completely changes the argument. After all, who dare take a stand that a woman shouldn’t have “privacy,” when what they really want to say is that they shouldn’t kill their unborn child. It changes the argument completely.

The scary thing is about such propaganda on both topics is that the public may hardly even notice the change in words at all, only that their opinions on the topic may be changing. The power of a strong word choice can be mesmerizing. 

If shifts in words can create shifts in public opinion when it comes to hot topics like these, imagine what a powerful slogan or tagline can do for you when it comes to your business.

You don’t necessarily have to change the argument to win. But the right words can help change minds and grow your base like never before.

Slogan Sandwich: Messages Have Layers

 Yesterday, as I drove past a deli in my neighborhood, I saw a banner advertising a brand of lunchmeat.

The sign read: “Take Back Lunch” with the company logo below.

Maybe my mind is wired differently than most, but I immediately thought that if you have to “take back” your lunch, then you must’ve lost your lunch for some reason.


Associating “losing your lunch” with a line of deli meats may not have been the marketing team’s direct intention. Nonetheless, it follows the train of thought of some consumers.

I’m sure this company wanted to encourage people to pack their lunch, to make time for themselves while enjoying a great sandwich using their meats and cheeses. But so many other slogans could accomplish this goal without a hint of… well, vomiting.

On the bright side, it did get my attention… and it certainly helped tattoo the brand on my brain. It’s probably just not the initial impression they were looking for.

Moral of the story: Don’t be so married to a slogan that you block out other interpretations of your message. Invite opinions, test it out, and be open to the feedback. It helps build a stronger message… and that’s what it’s all about.

How Slick is Google’s name “Chrome”?

  Some small businesses claim it’s getting harder to find a short, interesting short word that really sums up a new product they’re launching. One that grabs attention and has an appropriate meaning. One that “fits.” I disagree, so let’s have a look.

Google recently launched the beta of Chrome, a new type of Web browser. Folks who use it seem to love it. But I’m more interested in its name.

A recent piece in “Name Wire” discussed this topic. The author seemed to doubt its value, saying its too much of an “insider” name (the word “chrome” means something to them when it comes to industry jargon). You can see for yourself at 

Let me clarify… I’m no chip-head. I’m not a computer geek or expert when it comes to code or programming or such. I can navigate my way around a Help page pretty well, but that doesn’t count here. So I feel pretty comfortable in looking at Google’s naming as Mrs. John Q. Public would. And I really like it.

For most PC users, Google’s Chrome is an add-on feature to help “make the Internet run faster.” When I think of the word “chrome,” I think of Pimp My Ride. I think of Father’s Day antique car shows where one is blinded by the workmanship of chome enthusiasts. I think of chrome as a shiny automotive aftermarket add-on for hot cars to make them look even more spectacular. Just as racing stripes make a car look faster, chrome makes it look more expensive. And way cool.

So to me, Chrome on my computer will bring the perception of “cool,” speed and quality in an add-on customized, pimp-my-ride kinda way… then the name more than works.

Let’s hope the browser works half as well!

When is a Campaign not a Campaign?

Go to fullsize image Earlier this year, I was given a wonderful opportunity to create a slogan and branding identity for a capital campaign for an educational non-profit. The challenge was that we couldn’t use the word “campaign” or “appeal.” 

Now, for those of you who have been around the block before when it comes to development and institutional advancement (aka “fundraising by asking”), you know that almost every campaign calls it like it is… a campaign!

But not this time.

The leadership didn’t want to use those words because they didn’t want this particular effort to be confused with annual fundraising appeals that go on every year. This was different. It was a chance to make a real difference with the proper approach.

You see, thanks to several million-dollar-plus gifts, the non-profit was in a position to keep the ball rolling and to seek out other large donations from its constituents – those who may be inspired by the generosity of the few.

The word we used is “Momentum.”

Sure, it’s all about “keeping the drive alive,” to quote the cliche. It’s finding the right expression to open people to the idea of giving, instead of boring them with a “been there, done that” message.  

Words to encourage action – what good fundraising writing is all about.

Patron Saints of… Marketing?

 It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”
                                             – St. Dominic de Guzman

When you’re creating a brand, you’re crafting a message you hope will resonate and last for a long time. One that makes you stand out… one that is memorable.

I’ve always been curious about how the stories of people (and their messages) have been able to survive through the ages. When you consider historic saints, for instance, you typically have a crazy rebellious person of legendary actions. Heck, some were so persuasive that people today still devote their lives to them, or honor them in quiet ways. How many St. Francis of Assisi statues decorate gardens in your town? Quite a few in mine.

One of my favorite saints is Saint Dominic, who must have been fantastic at the art of persuasion. He started the Order of Preachers back in 1215. Born of wealthy parents, he traveled parts of Europe, sharing stories with people and correcting false information about Christian teachings. To help make his point about the perils of a worldly life (versus living simply), he practiced extreme self denial, wore uncomfortable clothes and slept on the floor instead of the beds provided.

In other words, he wrapped himself in his message.

Saint Dominic and others like him are fine examples of how personal branding can last for centuries – if your message is authentic and if its done right, with the right intentions. Here are some examples:

1) Logo and image – A dog with a torch in its mouth, and a star from his chest are both visions his mother is said to have seen around the time of Dominic’s birth. Now they’re part of his iconic images.

2) Consistent message – History books say that Dominic never spoke a work unless it was to praise God. Not a word. No “do you think it will rain?” No “these sandals are killing me.” Not a word that was not consistent with his message and his mission.

3) Stand out in the market – Dominic was passionate. He knew his market, who he wanted to persuade, and he was inspired to be as different from the existing “brands” (heretics) as possible. In his dress, in his behavior, in his message… “It is not by the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of retainers, and richly-hosteled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth.”

4) Words supported by image – He wrapped himself in his brand, and he acted in a manner completely consistent with his message.

When you consider your own branding approach, both personally and corporately, what messages do you send? Are they consistent with the mission and goals for your business – and for your life?

When you offer “the full package,” you may not earn sainthood, but you’ll certainly be a top choice in your market to reach the clients who need you most. Be inspiring, and may your journey be Blessed!

Connecting the Dots

 New taglines and slogans often reflect a shift in a company’s marketing. Sometimes it can be a change in the company’s service focus entirely. Sure, the words can say whatever you want them to say. You can make claims out the wazoo, but you need to go back in and connect the dots internally for your external promotions to work best for you.

Here’s an example. Glass and window business uses the catchy line “We fix your panes.” But their service is inconsistent, and their technicians are gruff – to they’re actually a real pain to deal with. Disconnect. Bad for business.

Catering business uses the slogan “Because Good Just Isn’t Good Enough.” But their fare tastes like cream of mushroom soup is the base for every sauce, and their foil-pan presentation is far from ideal. In fact, “good” would be an upgrade for them! Disconnect. Bad for business.

When you’re ready to update to a fresh slogan for your business, be sure it reflects the true nature of what you do. And be sure its message is exemplified throughout every aspect of your operations – including every employee and every customer interaction.

Sometimes words simply aren’t enough. And today’s clients are cynical and savvy enough to know when you’re less than authentic. Be sure your marketing message resonates throughout your business actions. Anything else is an opportunity lost.