One of the most fulfilling, challenging services I offer is company and product naming. I love working with clients through the structural and semantic specifics of what they love, what they hate, what will attract their customers, and what will work for now and well into the future.

An obstacle we hit almost immediately is the issue of domains. New companies and small businesses need a website – so they need an address for that website. Sometimes exact names aren’t available.

Let’s talk about how to choose a domain for your business.

The first, best option is your exact business name, verbatim, with a .com ending. That’s the gold standard. You can search for URL availability right on the GoDaddy.com site (or most domain sites who want to sell you that space). You can also get even more information on whois.net. On that website, you can search for your domain name idea – and if it’s already registered, you can see by whom.

If your name is taken, don’t fret. This doesn’t mean you can’t name your business that name.
Exact names that are already taken are only an issue in two main cases:
1) If that name is your direct competitor, then you don’t want to name your business this. In other words, if you’re selling cell phones and computers, don’t name your business Apple. This domain is taken – and the concept is taken.
2) If you want to trademark your company, and a competitor is using the same name, you won’t be able to trademark. You can search for that here.

To move forward with your name, when an exact domain name is taken, consider whether you can add a neutral word at the end. For instance, if you’re a design company, is “YourNameDesign.com” available. Or if you make jewelry, is “YourNameJewelry.com” available? There are any number of neutral, categorical words you can add to the end.

You can also add a verb to the beginning, to give an interesting twist to your domain name. Words like “visit,” “learn,” “See,” “EatAt,” “Buy,” and so on.

A few points to consider:
– The shorter, the better. If you have to add a word, keep it short and simple.
– It must be easy to spell, especially if you rely on word of mouth.
– Search online and make sure you won’t come up against competition with a similar name. Avoid sounding like one word or sound off from your competition.

Once you found your domain name, buy it! Even if you don’t have the website designed quite yet, grab your domain once you’re committed to the name.

Need more info? Here are some great resources!
BluChic walks you through the process of buying your domain and getting a website set up. I highly recommend working with BluChic.
I haven’t personally worked with them, but LaunchHer offers trademark services.