With the ever-decreasing stock of available domain names, especially those coveted .com domains, you might be tempted to use hyphens as an alternative. So for example,
You might want the domain name SmithsWidgets.com
But as it’s already been registered. you might go for Smiths-Widgets.com
Seems like reasonable compromise? Well, there are a number of good reasons why you shouldn’t use this tactic. For the purposes of this example, we’ll assume your company is called ‘Smith Widgets’ and you use Smith-Widgets.com as your domain name.
And just for the sake of clarity, using one hyphen in your domain name is a bad idea, using more than one hyphen is just an awful idea so you shouldn’t even be considering it.
1. Competing For Your Own Brand Name
If one of your customers searches in Google for ‘Smiths Widgets’, which website will Google deliver in the first position of the results? Will it be SmithWidgets.com or Smith-Widgets.com? Assuming it’s the former, won’t your customers find is confusing if they land on a website for a totally different company?
Worse still, what if SmithsWidgets.com sells the same products as you? It could also be that SmithWidgets.com sells something that you don’t necessarily want associated with your company like adult material or some other undesirable content.
2. Potential Legal Issues
Whilst we’re not legal experts, it’s safe to say that if you try giving your business a name that is already in use then you could potentially be in breach of trademark or intellectual property laws.
If somebody has registered SmithsWidgets.com then it stands to reason that another company is likely to be either trading under that name or using it for a product/service. Do you really want to be forever waiting for a ‘cease & desist’ letter from a Lawyer to drop through your letter box?
Personally, we think it’s simply not worth the risk.
3. Cheapening Your Brand
A lot of people look at a hyphenated domain as the poor relation to the unhyphenated version. It really shouts, ‘we couldn’t get the unhyphenated domain so we compromised’. And who wants to deal with a business that is prepared to compromise on something as important as their own name?
If you think about all the major brands, how many of them use hyphens in their domain name?
- It’s facebook.com, not face-book.com
- It’s ebay.com not e-bay.com
- It’s cocacola.com, not coca-cola.com
- It’s linkedin.com, not linked-in.com
And so on. We’re really struggling to think of a major brand that uses a hyphen in it’s domain name which should tell you all you need to know.
4. Quoting Your Website or Email Address
If a customer asks for your website or email address, it’s easy to quote and understand if it’s simply your business name. However, add a hyphen or two and suddenly you’re adding unnecessary syllables.
Rather than ‘my email is John at Smiths Widgets dot com’, you have to say, ‘my email is John at Smiths hyphen Widgets dot com’.
You’d be amazed how many times people miss-hear the word ‘hyphen’ or how many times an email is sent with the hyphen completely omitted. And can you imagine how many times over the weeks, months and years you’ll have to quote either your email or website address?
So What do You do if Your Preferred Domain Isn’t Available?
We’ve never come across a business owner who has said they are glad they used a hyphen in their domain and it’s made their life easier. The problem is that when you’re starting-out in business, you’ve got so much to organise and so little time to do everything. As a consequence, important decisions are often not given the attention they deserve.
However, you’re going to be stuck with your domain name for a long time so don’t be tempted to cut corners. If you still want a hyphenated domain name after reading this article then best of luck – we suspect you’ll need it.
There are so many elements you need to consider when developing a suitable name for your business that it would make sense to get expert help. After all, you wouldn’t start your business without first getting advice from an Accountant or Tax Expert would you?
Thankfully we provide a free consultation to start-up businesses in the UK in which we can give you some helpful advice on how to choose the perfect name for your new venture. To book a free telephone consultation, simply call us on 01252 416 222 or use the form on our contact page.