A Great Company Name Can Lift You Up – The Same Can Be Said for a Great Domain
MediaOptions’ CEO, Andrew Rosener, recently tweeted a 2019 article written by James Currier, a five-time founder, and a founding partner of NFX, a pre-seed and seed stage venture capital outfit.
Currier’s article, entitled “Your company name matters… a lot,” offers expert insight into why picking the right company name can positively impact a business’s fortunes. The article begins by telling the story of Currier’s 1999 startup, Emode, a name that was dated within 24 months.
Emode rebranded to Tickle. Tickle, an early self-discovery media company, paired its succinct brand name with the Tickle.com domain. While this coupling didn’t determine the company’s success, it did have an impact, and a string of favorable outcomes followed.
Traffic increased by 30%, journalists started writing about the company, ad spending became more effective, and Tickle’s founders received a $110 million offer to buy the company.
The article, described by Rosener as one of the best articles on the power and importance of a company’s name, goes into some detail about the psychological power that the right brand name can invoke.
Currier, who says that the right company name speaks for you when you’re not present, has eight guidelines for finding the right brand name.
These include having a company name that is memorable, spell-able, and friendly.
These are all qualities that a premium domain name can provide a brand, too. The right domain name, like the right company name, can also transform the fortunes of a brand.
There are countless examples of a brand’s transformation following the acquisition of an ultra-premium domain. Here are five stories of how a great domain name has helped lift a company.
Jamie Siminoff – Ring.com
Ring founder Jamie Siminoff can attest to the power that the right brand name and domain name can bring to a brand.
Founded in 2013, Siminoff named his doorbell company Doorbot and quickly started looking for funding. An appearance on SharkTank didn’t produce any funding, but it did raise the company’s profile and led to improved sales.
By 2014, Siminoff had decided to rebrand his company from Doorbot to Ring. In a 2015 interview with me, he revealed, “Doorbot was an awesome name but not a name that you can build a long-lasting, meaningful business around. Ring is the type of name that gives you the foundation to build something unique and special from.”
The rebrand to Ring was accompanied by the acquisition of Ring.com, which Siminoff purchased for $1 million, a risky investment for the small brand. However, Ring provided the launchpad that the brand’s products needed, and while traffic data was kept private, Siminoff told me privately in 2015 that the company grew by many multiples immediately following the rebrand to Ring.
Under Ring, the brand had the room it needed to grow and raised over $200 million in funding before e-commerce giant Amazon bought the company in 2018 for an estimated value of between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion.
Would Doorbot have allowed the grand to grow as it did? Would Doorbot have been able to pivot into providing home security products beyond a doorbell?
Peer Richelsen – Cal.com
In 2021, the young scheduling brand Calendso announced its rebrand to Cal.com, incorporating this three-letter .com domain name into its brand name.
The rebrand had an immediate impact. Thanks to Cal.com’s status as an open startup, meaning that it transparently discloses key metrics such as employee salaries and customer count, we can see just how much of an impact the company had.
In a tweet from January 2022, co-CEO Peer Richelsen tweeted Cal.com’s customer count, citing the new domain name as a turning point for the company.
The week before Calendso became Cal.com, the company had a customer count of 208. The week after the Cal.com rebrand, the number jumped to 2,966 and has continued rising. By September 26, 2022, the customer count was 34,100.
While Calendso would have continued growing without a rebrand, switching to Cal.com had a remarkable and immediate effect on the fortunes of the company.
Rohit Mittal – Stilt.com
Rohit Mittal, the founder of Fintech company Stilt, abided by James Currier’s advice of using a brand name that is memorable, spell-able, and friendly, but the choice of domain name didn’t back up the strong company name.
Mittal chose to operate on Stilt.co. The .co extension is a popular alternative to .com in situations where the .com equivalent is unavailable or out of budget. However, is that choice of domain name costing brands?
To Mittal’s dismay, he realized that, yes, Stilt.co was having a direct negative impact on his brand.
A Twitter thread from Mittal reveals that after testing an ad campaign on Facebook, several comments made him reconsider his .co domain name.
What followed was a 9-month journey to acquire the Stilt.com domain name, a period that involved negotiations and personal growth. Mittal noted that “We had to grow as founders and scale our thinking to be comfortable paying a higher price (for Stilt.com).”
Ultimately, Stilt secured Stilt.com for $50,000.
Since its acquisition of Stilt.com, the company has raised more than $300 million in funding and debt financing.
Mittal credits some of the company’s success to acquiring Stilt.com. “Buying a .com domain turned out to be the right decision. This made users trust us more, we boosted our SEO value, and got us on a path to building a brand.”
Woody Levin – Extend.com
In 2019, entrepreneur Woody Levin co-founded extended warranty provider Extend. The brand name fits the criteria that James Currier laid out in his excellent blog post, but early on, the domain name was an issue for Extend. Extend operated on HelloExtend.com.
In a 2020 interview with me on the MediaOptions blog, Levin described a common problem that plagues businesses that use subpar domain names. The domain name caused confusion over the company’s brand name.
“We used to get email introductions referring to us as HelloExtend, rather than just Extend,” Levin told me.
Owning Extend.com took care of this issue and also had some immediate effects. According to Levin, “We definitely have seen an increase in traffic. We’ve received emails about other companies’ extended warranty plans just because the consumer has typed in extend.com and come to our website.”
Levin also shared his sentiment about the domain’s importance on public appearance, *”Owning Extend.com makes us seem, and feel, and act like a standalone multi-billion-dollar corporation.”
Now, Extend has joined the Unicorn club, an exclusive set of private companies that have a valuation of $1 billion or more. The company surpassed the billion-dollar valuation in May 2021 after raising $260 million in a Series C funding round.
From a lowly startup to a multi-billion-dollar business, Extend.com has been the company’s foundation.
Jeremy Parker – Swag.com
In business, swag is defined as the promotional products that companies use to advertise their brand. Typically, these items are given to employees, customers, and potential customers to help establish brand recognition.
For a company looking to become the definitive provider of swag products, the brand name, and domain name Swag.com certainly fit the bill.
Founded in 2016, Swag.com secured its domain name prior to launching and managed to create $6 million in sales within the first four years of operating.
Swag.com attracted customers organically, with a Forbes article revealing that the company dominated search results for the term “swag” and received yet more visitors through type-in traffic to the domain.
Co-founder Jeremy Parker knew how valuable the domain was to his brand. In a LinkedIn post in 2021, Parker said, “There is so much value in a good domain name.”
He went on to say, “We wanted to be memorable enough so that when people are discussing their need to buy swag, their first instinct is to just type Swag.com directly into their browser. We started with the domain name and worked from there – being memorable was the first step to becoming the go-to source for swag.”
In 2021, Parker and his company successfully exited after it was acquired by apparel company Custom Ink for an undisclosed fee. A Forbes article reports that Swag.com was on track to produce $30 million in sales in 2021. Impressive growth from this bootstrapped brand.