I recently encountered a wonderful little women-owned business with a fighting chance to really succeed. I love everything about this innovative, creative little company. But unfortunately they did a poor job of choosing a domain name, which I think just might doom them to failure. I want to keep this company anonymous, so permit me to fictionalize a bit.

This company provides products and services for women interested in a particular lifestyle which is pretty typical and commonly encountered in middle-class America. This lifestyle crosses all ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic lines, although this particular company specifically targets women in North and Central America. The company wanted to have a young, “funky” tone, so they decided the company name would end with “Chicks.” The problem is that when this company chose a name, they neglected to set up their domain name at the same time. After getting their marketing started, they realized that the domain was already taken — and what’s worse: it was taken by a pornographic website. I mean, pretty seriously hard-core porn. Yikes.

What I would have done was to stop all the presses and either negotiated a purchase of the domain from the porn folks, or scrapped my existing work and chosen a completely different name. But this company elected to keep their name, instead spelling it with an “x,” ending the name in “Chix.” Now, every time they tell someone their URL verbally — they have to say “be sure to spell it with an “x.”

I wonder how many times somebody has looked for them online only to be inadvertently confronted with a screenful of porn. This is of course completely opposite (and even opposed to) the image that this company wants to portray, and they have had many problems because of this.

Whether you have a startup company looking for an angel or you’re a one-person shop looking to freelance, one of your very first steps is to come up with a good business name and domain. In days of yore (I was tempted to use an old-timey font to write that!), it was enough to have an effective business name. But these are new times, and now an effective domain is just as important (if not more so).

I’m not going to write about how to name your business. There are many books and great blog posts about that, particularly from the SBA and Entrepreneur.com–and here’s my own post about it to get you started: More on choosing a domain name for your business. And if you’ll permit a shameless plug for my own business, I’d love to help you name your company or product! Contact me if I can help.


The moral of the story

While you need to get onto your state’s Secretary of State Office website and check to make sure your chosen company name isn’t already taken, you also need to go online to make sure that an appropriate domain name is available too.  Save yourself from potential issues like the “Chicks vs. Chix” company above and deal with your domain and business name at the same time.

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