So it’s a couple of weeks before the launch of ‘the new brand’. This may be a new brand altogether or the evolution of an existing brand but either way, the marketing folk have done themselves proud: The new logo has been approved and the inviolate brand standards have been created and chiselled in stone and PDF. The new signage has been printed and is itching to be uncovered so that it can broadcast its glorious new message across the earth.
Only one thing left on the to-do list… the new website. There’s plenty of time of course, after all we still have a couple of weeks though we don’t have much money left (custom embossed, gold-foiled business cards with a multi-syllabic laminate finish don’t grow on trees you know). Websites can be made quickly (my friend is a web designer and he’s whipping up new things overnight) and surely they don’t cost much. After all, it’s not like anything needs to be printed, it’s not like anything needs to be made, it’s not like websites are real. We’ll just use one of our new brochure designs as a template and whip it into shape.
That’s the plan!
Reality is a harsh mistress however and soon this group of well meaning people, who are typical of many businesses these days, will discover that they have left themselves with no time and no money to complete a major component of their marketing plan.
Over the next few months we will explore the dizzying highs and terrifying lows of the website development process.
Part 1 – The Name
Many businesses put a lot of time and thought into their new brand or product name but leave the selection of an internet domain name until very late in the process, usually after the brand name has already been determined. The .com namespace is almost entirely used up and this is quickly become the case with our own .com.au namespace as well.
Suddenly realising that the name they dearly loved is already being used, more than one company executive has turned up on ASIC’s doorstep with a Form 205 (this is the form used to change a company name) clutched in their hand. This often coincides with call to the printer to hold off on those absolutely-finalised-we-won’t-be-making-any-more-changes business cards.
The only alternative is abbreviation, though perhaps amputation is better word for what happens. When myoriginalproduct.com.au turns out to be less than so, why not just use a shorter version like myoriguct.com.au? Let’s be clear, this sort of behaviour was tolerated during the Internet’s infancy but now results in second-class acronyms that would leave that lady that sells sea-shells shaking her head. Make sure the domain name can be ‘said’. It should roll of the tongue like a word or a sentence. If people struggle to say it then you should head back to the drawing board.
These problems can be avoided however. Involve your web developer early in the process so they can check domain name availability of various names as you are brainstorming. It’s also a good idea to see whether your name is already registered in other regions (.com, .co.uk, .co.nz etc). Sometimes it is prudent to register the name in multiple regions if you plan to expand your market in the future. This foray into brand sleuthing can also indicate if your name is being used in other contexts. A quick Google search can sometimes reveal that your excellent idea is also the name of a porn site or a swear word in a foreign language.
The domain name you use for your website should be given the same care attention that is given to your brand. By incorporating domain name selection early into the process you can limit the potential for nasty surprises at the end.