9 Steps to Brainstorm Domain Names

9 Steps to Brainstorm Domain Names

What’s the deal with domain names? Why do they have such great importance for your brand and/or business?

Well, firstly your domain name is the first contact between you and your audience. It’s a core part of your brand. Bear in mind that people often unconsciously might make false biases, assumptions, and prejudices on that first brief contact.

Plus being creative and making a great and memorable domain name is a complex process, with its own nuances and issues that arise with it. In the next paragraphs you’re going to learn how to separate important phases of such operation and how to better utilize them to your advantage.

Step one: Gathering of the storm

The beginning of each brainstorm is finding a team to do it with.

That’s what a brainstorm is. A gathering of people that ultimately ends up with a list of random ideas to choose from. This method weeds out all ideas that just looked good at first sight. Imagine for instance that you’re in a supermarket, and suddenly you spot a new and interesting item. But instead of buying it immediately, you walk away, and come back to it later, after some consideration.

Setup the basic guidelines: what are you searching for in the keywords and in the name itself, what length is allowed and what general ideas are similar? But remember – you don’t have to follow this to the letter, only in a general sense. After all, this is brainstorming and in this way you let new and potentially better ideas to be heard.

Step two: Ideas firing

Shooting different ideas at each other can be achieved in two ways.

Either you allow all ideas to come through and neither one is ridiculous and they all end up on the list, after which the list gets a revision and shorts it out, leaving only the good ones.

Or you get more conversational and after each name, a quick judgment is called upon. Brief decisions like this are effective because they give you an idea about that first impression your domain name would leave on your visitors.

Approximately 333.8 million domain names are already taken.

What makes brainstorming such an effective method is its ability to occasionally spit out a name or an idea that everyone instantly agrees upon. A profound moment that leaves everyone in a one-second silence and then suddenly everyone is for it.

Step three: Is it taken?

If this is your first name-choosing event then you should know that a lot of them are already “spoken for”. Approximately 333.8 million domain names, if you want to be a bit more precise.

Think of any obscure words or common phrases, or even invent some, and try them. Even in that case – they’re probably taken. Millions of domain names are sold each year to different name squatters, with their hope being that on that special day they’ll make handsome profits out of them.

As you begin to explore different names you may realize that most of your first choices have already been taken. Even if already experienced, be prepared for yet another grueling task.

Find some instant domain searchers around the web and use them while brainstorming. This way ideas that have misfired and domain names that are unavailable get discarded immediately, saving time in the process.

Step four: Keywords and suitability

Brand-building will only be successful if it does what it says. Your domain name should be in line with the niche, product or service you’re in. Think in terms of suitability – does it fit the content, target audience or the business you’re doing. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms and alternatives.

There are of course those that don’t apply the same principle and do so effectively. The oatmeal.com has nothing to do with oats. Google itself is a famous example of growing a brand with an obscure name.

Avoid exact name matches. Ever since the Adsense, niche crowd using exact domain matches has become a fashion. Exact domain match is the one where the domain name and the prime search or the subject are identical. And this fashion phenomena created some bizarre names, such as Buy-Luxury-Furniture.

Earlier in the history of the internet, such “on the nose” domain names did bring benefits to website owners by giving them dominance in the search results. But since then, Google has effectively plugged that loophole. And with its recent updates, this caused changes in ranking positions for many websites.

Besides, many web users will judge websites with such formulation as low-quality and spam. Try to avoid using generic keywords, as domain names solely based on these don’t have the same SEO weight as before.

Step five: Add randomness

After searching for different words that relate to your content or “idea space”, add random, eccentric or bizarre elements that are outside of the focus space. For example, if you were looking to create a blog about fitness and nutrition, your choice of words that belong to the original “idea space” would be something like this:

sport, nutrition, fitness, bodybuilding, diet, muscle, movement, strength

If you stayed within given space, you could create something like “Nutrition of Sport” or “Move fast “. But those names will probably be already taken (and plus, boring).


If you have to spell it over the phone, you lost

Jason Calacanis

But by adding certain randomness you could end up with something like “Expressive Diet” – something that unique could sticks in the visitor’s mind more easily.

Add a number of random words that catch your eye, and when left with 20 or more try brainstorming and combining them with those in the “idea space”. Be prepared to have multiple candidates in case some are already taken.

Step six: Avoid confusion and infringement

A good domain name should be distinctive, and shouldn’t be easily confused with another brand or website. Doing otherwise might result in a lawsuit and forced domain eviction – as people confuse similar names, so to can search engines, which leaves a name that’s too similar to a litter of irrelevant links when someone searches for it.

Step seven: Name length and pronunciation

Domain names should be short – no more than one to three words. Longer ones will only make people have a hard time remembering it, and an even harder time talking about it at parties.

Always go for something that’s easy to type. If you heard it on the radio, would you be able to spell it? Or as Jason Calacanis, an entrepreneur and an investor behind a tech giant Uber puts it – “If you have to spell it over the phone, you lost”. All of this happens because of processing fluency: how easily a brain processes given information. Names that don’t require a lot of processing power (thinking), can be remembered more easily and usually inspire positive associations.

Domain names that get routinely misspelled lose a lot of potential traffic. Most users don’t have the time or the energy to use multiple Google searches for all the possible spellings.

On the other hand, if you make it too short, you can miss the point. “Familyvalues.org” is much better than “FamilyVa.org”, so be sure to find a balance between something that’s brief but not mangled into bits of info.

When it comes to acronyms, know that it is only applicable if the brand is regularly addressed as such.

Step eight: Make it memorable

Why would you create a domain name that is easily forgettable? Find some intuitive words that allow users to rapidly guess what the site is about. Or try something unique and different. Other areas of memorability like shortness and content relation are already known to you if you read the previous paragraphs.

Social media must also be put into the equation – is your domain name taken on any of the platforms?

You can also play with domains. For example, if creating an app that searches for your missing phone you could go with “find.me” or if you have a food-ordering website go for “bring.me”. Got a gym? “Supersize.me” should go along fine. Of course, these are all already taken, but if you read the article carefully, you won’t have any problems with coming up with the ones that are available.

Step nine: Social network availability

Thinking simply about domain availability is outdated nowadays – social media must also be put into the equation. Creating a great name means nothing if it’s already taken on social media.

Think of all the social media channels you will use, visit them and be sure that your chosen name is available on all of them. If a name isn’t available, you can always alter the account name a bit as to find an acceptable alternative.

Bottom Line

In the end, register as fast as you can. Even if you are unsure or you’re still thinking about going through another brainstorming process, it is much wiser to secure while you look for another idea. The process is cheap enough to buy and grab a handful that suits your needs.

Bonus tip: Alternative domain names that are related to a brand can be put to good use later on for creating stand-alone landing pages or special products or offers.

That’s it. Follow the steps one by one or even try to mix them in a way you think will bring greater creativity and you’re ready to get yourself an awesome new domain name!


Goran Bogunovic

Now, you're probably wondering how I got here! Running a marketing agency, educating people about branding, and helping you to develop your own presence online. To understand, you’ll need to follow me @Domain.Me

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