folder Filed in Domain tips, Interviews, Naming tips
Advice from the expert: Why brand names and domains are so important
Kristina Misic access_time 4 min read

Jim Harrison is an award-winning creative director, brand strategist and speaker. His design studio MetaVisual specializes in branding, visual systems, and design strategy. Over the course of his career, Jim has worked with a diverse group of local, regional, national, and global brands including Proctor & Gamble, McDonald’s, Experiencias Xcaret, Mars Chocolate, Exactech, the University of Florida, and many others. We asked Jim to share his thoughts on the importance of brand names and domains, here’s what he said.


“Like a good handshake, a smart name developed with purpose can help to establish critical expectations, convey an essential idea, and plant itself like a memorable seed in someone’s mind. Done poorly, opportunities and potential can evaporate quickly, or worse – never develop at all.”

Jim Harrison, owner of MetaVisual

Naming a business, product or service is one of the most impactful things an entrepreneur, business owner, brand manager or designer can do. The right name, carefully considered and vetted to within an inch of its life, carries with it one of the most critical intangible assets any business must have to compete in today’s crowded marketplaces: Differentiation.

Setting yourself apart from the competition doesn’t come automatically by having a better mousetrap, a more reliable service, or a new product. The positioning of a new product, company, or brand in the minds of your audience starts – and is often made or broken – by the critical first impression a name makes. Like a good handshake, a smart name developed with purpose can help to establish critical expectations, convey an essential idea, and plant itself like a memorable seed in someone’s mind. Done poorly, opportunities and potential can evaporate quickly, or worse – never develop at all.

And if finding a winning name isn’t difficult enough, matching it with an equally useful domain name can be downright frustrating – and very expensive. The market for domain names is even more crowded because so many have already been taken, and the resulting need to compromise on a domain name can increase the risk of confusion due to variations of spelling, abbreviation, and acronyms your competition may already be using.


“The market for domain names is even more crowded because so many have already been taken, and the resulting need to compromise on a domain name can increase the risk of confusion due to variations of spelling, abbreviation, and acronyms your competition may already be using.”

Jim Harrison, owner of MetaVisual

Ultimately, it’s a case-by-case choice about how much to invest in a domain name. Small start-ups all the way through Fortune 100 companies struggle with this question, but if a company or client is entering a highly competitive, highly lucrative market with a brand, the requirement for a compelling name and a matching & concise domain name becomes absolutely essential. That’s why it’s not unheard of for companies entering huge market segments to spend five or six figures just to purchase the rights to a domain name. It’s a smart business decision even at that high cost, because the ability to differentiate is critical to any business, and the memorability and ease-of-use for good URLs is equally important.


“It’s a smart business decision even at that high cost, because the ability to differentiate is critical to any business, and the memorability and ease-of-use for good URLs is equally important.”

Jim Harrison, owner of MetaVisual

I’ve helped many clients over the years develop names for their businesses as well as their brands. I’ve registered domains for $10 and helped clients negotiate domain naming purchases from existing owners to the tune of $75,000+. Determining an appropriate price all comes down to the business need, size of the markets, and the level of prioritization a business gives to locking down a registerable name and a matching domain. A small graphic design studio probably feels as passionate as a publicly-traded medical device manufacturer about their naming and domain activities. The difference is that the medical device manufacturer’s naming efforts carry the potential for being multi-million dollar decisions in the long term. One would expect them to pay much more to develop a name and register a domain.

In the end, bad names can still succeed, and long URLs can have plenty of traffic. But in a highly complex, hyper – competitive world where millions of people have figured out how to tune out the noise and only pay attention to what they care about or what they remember, businesspeople and marketers who can differentiate on day one with a compelling name have a head start over their competitors.


We hope you enjoyed reading all the above, we certainly did! If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.

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