Many of my small business owner clients ask about the differences between business and domain names and if they should match.
They want to know what is best for marketing purposes and because often their matching company website names are not available and then they don’t know which domain to get.
Do Your Domain Name & Business Name Have To Match?
Your business name and domain do not need to match. The primary difference between business and domain names is that a business name is used for identification, branding and legal purposes, whereas a domain name is a digital website address.
This article will answer all of your questions about business vs domain – when they should and should not match – complete with name examples. Plus I included my top tips on how to get a good name for your website when your business name website is unavailable.
Does my domain name have to match my company name?
Your domain and company names do not need to match because your company’s business and domain names have distinctly different functions. Domain names are online web addresses (www.MyCompanyOnline.com) where people go to access your website, whereas company business names are legally registered identifiers- My Company LLC (or INC).
But, should your domain name be the same as your business name?
When it comes down to choosing an online name for your brand there are many things you need to consider. One of them is whether your company name should be the same as your website name or not.
So, does your company name really need to be in your domain name?
- Yes. It will help people to find you when they’re looking for your company
- Yes. Your domain should be representative of your company name anyway
- No. You want to stand out from the crowd
- No. You want a short and memorable that is easy to spell site name that people can type in without making mistakes
- No. If your matching web address name is not available.
Keep reading to learn how to select the perfect domain name for your new business – that is closely related and brand-building too!
To further clarify the differences between various names most businesses use let’s start with the basics.
What is a domain name for a business?
A domain name, also known as a Web site address, is the URL under which a particular website is accessible to Internet visitors.
Examples that include the organization names include www.Apple.com for Apple products and www.RedCross.org for the American Red Cross.
Examples that do not include the organization’s name are www.Equality.com for Salesforce and Insider.com for Business Insider.
This type of website address that specifies its geographical location on the Web – for example, www.yoursite.com is based in America whereas www.yoursite.uk is registered in the United Kingdom.
A domain for a business is simply a website address.
What is a business name for a company?
Your business name, sometimes referred to as your company name, is your legally registered identifier for government purposes of taxation and law enforcement.
If you have set up an LLC, or INC the name you used to register your paperwork is considered your business name.
If, however, you have chosen to be a sole proprietor and use a DBA (doing business as) business entity then your personal name or company name that you noted on the forms you submitted to your local government is your business name.
This is the name (Business Name) that you MUST use on legal contracts and business agreements.
Additionally, it could be the name you use on your business cards, store signs and brochures. However, your business name does not necessarily need to be used as your brand name. The next section will discuss the differences between business names and brand names in which is best for your startup.
Important differences between brand names and business names
- A business’ name is the legal form of the company.
- The brand name represents what a company sells – products or services.
- The brand name is what consumers think of when they hear the business’ name.
- A business’ name must have at least one word in it, but can’t be just a number or symbol.
- A business’ name must be unique within your state, but there are no rules about whether a brand name is unique. First, be sure to check if another company has begun using your desired brand name with a trademark search. You don’t want to either confuse customers to get sued by another firm!
- When you start a new company, you may choose whatever name you wish for both the company’s legal form and its brand name.
- The maximum number of characters in a business’ name depends on the type of business entity you form – for example, 80 characters for an LLC and 40 for a corporation. This includes the designation letters LLC or INC.
Differences Between Business Name and Domain Name
|Business Name||Bob’s Big Company||Legal|
Importance of Matching a Company Name to Domain name
In the past, matching names were important. As the internet has grown, and major companies began using alternative domain website names such as Johnson & Johnson using Baby.com, it has become less important to have your business name match your domain URL.
In fact, in many cases, it is better to NOT match the two names. Read on to learn about when to match or not match your business and domain names.
When Your Business Name and Domain Name SHOULD Match
Your business name and website domain name should match as closely as possible if:
- Your site promotes your company as a whole, not just a specific product or brand
- Your company has strong name recognition in your marketplace
- Your business is named after yourself and you have a good reputation in your industry
When Your Business Name and Domain Name SHOULD NOT Match
Listed below are situations where matching your domain name and business name are not recommended.
- Your company name is long or contains foreign words
- Your company name is difficult to remember, spell and pronounce
- Your business name is easily confused with other companies
- Your business is built around a brand name that is different than your legal company name
- You want to promote specific products or market topics keywords
FYI: If you want to change the name on an existing website – it IS possible. Read my article showing you the steps on how to switch your domain name on all popular platforms such as Bluehost, GoDaddy, Shopify, Wix and Squarespace.
Wondering if your LLC name has to match your business name?
Read my answer complete with tips on LLC names and links to all 50 States LLC name search lookups
Company Name to Business Domain Name
By reading this article you know that a company name is a word or set of words that identifies the business and distinguishes it from others for legal purposes. A business domain name is a series of characters used to identify one or more IP addresses. They often resemble the words in a company name but are not limited to such usage.
So now let’s explore how to transform your company name into a great business domain name using my pro tips below with examples of good business domain names.
Business Domain Name Examples
Using fictitious company names here are examples to illustrate the various methods you can use to turn your company name into a web domain name.
|Company Name||Domain Name||Strategy|
|Sweet Sally Bakery||SweetSally.com||SHORTEN|
Remove the word “bakery” to create a shorter, more memorable domain name
Add your locale (State, City, or Country) for better local SEO rankings resulting in more clicks and sales – a good strategy if your preferred domain name is not available.
|ABC Commercial Maintenance||MeanClean.com||PRODUCT SERVICE FOCUS|
Changing your domain name to one that communicates your company’s offerings, instead of your legal business name, ensures that customers will remember your web address.
|Ted’s Tax Preparation & Planning||TedDoesTaxes.com||UNIQUE|
Replacing words to make a phrase (funny or meaningful) is an excellent way to turn a boring business name into an interesting web name.
|Hair Today Salon||HairToday.Salon||DOMAIN EXTENSIONS|
Consider alternate domain extensions if .COM is not available. There are lots of good alternatives including, NET, SITE, SALON, etc
Which To Decide First – Your Business Name or Domain Address
Naming a new business is hard enough, without having to decide and register a domain also! I recommend that small business owners first decide on their business or web name as such:
- If you sell Business to Consumer, decide on your domain name first, because there is a lot of online competition and you want to stand out in search engine results.
- If your company is brick and mortar, decide on your company name first. Domain options for restaurants and services are adding your geographic location into your URL but not your company name. An example of Vito’s Pizzeria (company name) and VitoPizzeriaNYC.com (domain).
- If your business is online-based, first decide on your domain name since that will be the name your customers will associate with your brand.
What to Do if Your Business Matching Domain Name is Unavailable
Help, my business domain name is taken? What should I do?
These days it is hard to find a matching domain web name to your firm’s name because over 250 million domain site names are already registered! No worries. I have great tips on how to get an awesome domain name below:
- Decide essential words – Pick one or two keywords that you must have in your domain, such as your name, profession or brand.
- Add key words – Add words to your essential words determined above. Did you know that Tesla could not get the matching domain name Tesla.com – since it was already taken! So they added a logical brand extension word “motors” to make their current domain TeslaMotors.com.
- Use Name Generators – Experiment with free online name generators for some domain name inspiration. I list the best business name generators in my article.
- Consider different domain extensions – If your desired name with a .COM is not available, see if by changing the three-letter extension you have better luck. Try .net, .info, .site, .online. since these are internet-themed and not specific to any industry (such as .fit and .coach) Avoid some of the trendy extensions that could quickly go out style like .moda.
- Tag on your location – One of the easiest and best ways to get your matching domain is to add your town, region or state to your name. An example SharpNails.com is not available, however, SharpNailsNYC.com is available.
- Try Memorable Slang – Instead of attempting to match your company name, go in an entirely different direction toward slang. If you make the best apple pie in your bakery, which is named Mom’s Kitchen, how about naming your website momsapplepie.com.
FAQ: Business Names and Domain Names
Should I include my domain name in my business name?
If your business is internet-based, go ahead and use your full domain name as your business name, such as Amazon.com.
But if your company is service-based or brick and mortar, usually adding your domain extension (.com, .net, etc) will only confuse customers and dilute your branding.
What is the best type of domain name for a new business to use?
The best domain type for a new company is a short and memorable one that communicates about the firm’s products or services with their headquarter country domain extension. An example is, Sweet Sally Bakery located in Austin, Texas could use www.SweetSally.com
Do I need to include LLC in my domain name?
You do not need to include LLC in your domain if your firm is set up as an LLC. It is not legally required, in most states, and will add length (a big negative) onto your domain name URL.
Using LLC in your business name is typically only required when signing legal contracts such as leases, orders, or loans.
Can a domain name be different from your legal business name?
Yes, in fact, most legal business names are different from the firm’s domain name.
This is due, partly, to the three letters after the domain (called the extension) .com, .net, .org, etc which are not typically part of a legal business name.
An example, Studio West Photos is the legal business name, while StudioWestPhotos.com is the domain website name.
Should my domain name be my personal name?
People who are well known, or plan to be famous, should choose this option. However, if you have an unusual name that is difficult to spell and remember it is a bad idea to use your personal name for your business’s domain address.
Know that your name may not be unique to you alone! It is highly likely that somewhere else in the world of 8 billion people there is a person with your name.
Plus your name may change after marriage or divorce. And, using your personal name as a business name and domain name limits both your branding options and ability to sell your firm in the future.
You should take into consideration if branding yourself through your name will actually work for you because there are benefits and disadvantages both ways.
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