Hot Companies with Horrible Brands

Not too long ago, dictionary word domains were considered as exact match, category killers for various products and industries.  For this reason you’ll find fiber optic products at Fiber.com and air travel services at Fly.com.  But things have changed. The rules have been disrupted. Now dictionary words have become a premium vehicle for branding in a wide variety of industries. Sometimes this creative application of a single word domain has been a hit. Other times it’s been a disaster.

Let’s take a look at some examples of companies who have succeeded despite what I consider to be questionable, single word, branding choices.

  • Lime – A bike sharing company  at LI.me
  • Igloo – Domain advisors at Igloo.com
  • Sumo – Web marketing solutions at Sumo.com
  • Amazon – Global eCommerce platform at Amazon.com
  • Lemonade – Insurance app at Lemonade.com
  • Uber – Ride sharing app at Uber.com
  • Gusto – Payroll services at Gusto.com
  • League – Health benefits management at League.com
  • Bird – Scooter rentals at Bird.co
  • Apple – Global tech company at Apple.com
  • Toast – Business operations software at Toast.com
  • Purple – High tech mattresses at Purple.com

On the flip side there’s a bunch of one word brands that I really like.

  • Agenda – A scheduling app at Agenda.com
  • Advance – Global media at Advance.com
  • Great – A Swedish charity to help the impoverished at Great.com
  • Slack – Team collaboration tools at Slack.com
  • Ledger – Crypto asset management at Ledger.com
  • Casper – High tech mattresses at Casper.com
  • Pax – Vape and cannabis devices at Pax.com
  • Ring – Home security systems at Ring.com
  • Timeline – Modern history at Timeline.com
  • Freedom – Mortgage company at Freedom.com

What’s on your list of heroes and zeroes for startup branding?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Let’s Get Rich – Investing in the Next Big Thing

Ninety nine percent of finding the next big thing is discounting all the noise of those that want to convince you that what they have is the next big thing.
Rick Swartz, The Domain King®

We all wish we could have registered the 1997 gems that are selling now for 6 or 7 figures. So why didn’t we? The reality is that most us were online in 1997. I know I was. And yet we didn’t buy. Since then other opportunities have come and gone. But often we haven’t seen or responded to them in real time.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at these 2018 sales.
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Tech Startup Brands: What’s Hot and What’s Not

“We now live in a world where one-word domains with massively broad use cases and brandable one and two-word domain names have won [the race against product-related domains]. – Morgan Linton, July 2018

In a prior post I talked about 349 recent sales from three brandable marketplaces. I assessed them as a group and analyzed them in terms of length, style and keywords. This week I’m looking for trends in the brand names of 200 tech startups that were recently covered in news reports on TechCrunch.

Let’s see what we can discern from the trends, tendencies and nuances of this random list of 200 names.
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10 startups that launched with a premium domain name in 2017

A lot of startups struggle with the naming process when they start and an even larger number fails in acquiring a great domain name for the company that they just launched. The general sentiment among these startups is that they can always go through a rebranding if needed or upgrade their domain name when they gain healthy traction and raise more funding.  But not all startups. Every now and then we’ll see newly funded startups launch with a killer, ultra premium domain name. Right from the start.

Here are 10 of them that announced funding this year: (more…)

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Digital pharmacy startup ScriptDash rebrands as Alto, acquires Alto.com

Digital pharmacy startup ScriptDash got a new name this week, along with $23 million in Series B financing. The San-Fransisco-based startup will now go by Alto to reflect its intention to go beyond just delivery.

“We started ScriptDash to simplify the pharmacy experience for those in need. Over the past two years, it’s been our privilege to serve the San Francisco Bay Area community. We’ve learned a lot about what it means to provide you with the world-class care you deserve. In that time, we also began to feel that we had a larger story to tell than just a pharmacy that delivers. Our new name, Alto, better embodies our company’s mission to build the world’s most patient-centric pharmacy.” co-founder Mattieu Gamache-Asselin writes in the company blog announcing the news of the name change. (more…)

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The Brandable Insider: A Look at Y Combinator’s 2017 Demo Day

“Step back and think about the difference in how end users use domains, the capital they have to invest in their name, [instead of] like a pure domain collector, and you can easily start to determine what areas make the most sense.” — Bruce Marler of Vegas Condo

In this week’s brandable entry I’m taking a look at some of the hits and misses at Y Combinator’s annual Demo Day. The event was held last week and featured pitches by more than 100 startups. Sitting in the audience were scores of investors and venture capitalists looking for their next, startup-to-acquisition, payday. The event included businesses from all over the globe and went on for two days.

Here’s a sampling of brands from the event, examined purely from a brandable domaining point of view. In my subjective evaluation I gave no consideration for the quality of business models or how well the brands corresponded to a given product or service. My approach was purely, would I be interested in buying this domain if I saw it available at a reasonable price. I also limited my list to companies who were already hosting their business at the exact match, dot-com for their brand.
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The Brandable Insider: Analyzing One Hundred Info-Tech Brands

Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your businessSteve Forbes

Each year, Wealthfront, the automated investment service, releases a list of the most desirable, mid-sized tech companies. Wealthfront believes that the most important financial decision any young person can make is where they choose to work and launch their career. With this in mind, they publish an annual list of the info-tech companies most likely to turn into big business. In other words, the best of the best.
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The Brandable Insider: Grubs Are Gross and Keywords Are Trendy

“[In 2017] brandable domain names will continue to be a popular form of investment for many domainers.”James Iles

Some brandable domains are classic. I’m talking about names like NatureLab ($22K), FoodFuture ($25K), MarketingToday ($1.5 mill), and Altavista ($3.2 mill). But if you’re like me and you’re focused on brands for startup companies with relatively shallow pockets, then brandable names and keywords can be a bit more temporal, jumpy and trending.
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The Brandable Insider: Sumo.com and Other Seemingly Mismatched Brands

There’s been a lot of press this week about the acquisition of the domain Sumo.com for a $1.5 million dollars. Noah Kagan, CEO of SumoMe has been making the rounds this week and you can find his interviews at Domain Sherpa, DomainNameWire and on his podcast blog, OKdork. You can also find articles at Entrepreneur Mag and NamePros. You can even find an opinion piece at Domain Gang which questions the wisdom of spending so much money on a brand that has no obvious correlation to its core product and service.

All this talk about Sumo.com got me to thinking. I started to reflect on all the business ventures, in a variety of industries, that have picked up dictionary word domains and are using them for brands even though there is no obvious connection between the brand and their product.

So here’s a few exact match domain-brands that could have you scratching your head.
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Online printing startup Printful invests $100k to upgrade from ThePrintful.com to Printful.com

California-based online printing dropshipping startup Printful reached out to me to share they have upgraded their domain name, going from ThePrintful.com to Printful.com, in a transaction that cost $100,000 USD. Formerly Idea Bits LLC, the print-on-demand dropshipping company is now also incorporated as Printful Inc in the state of Delaware.

“Incorporating Printful is a step toward our goal of going public on the U.S. stock exchange by 2020 and will help us raise investment capital. We decided to change our domain to better build our brand – we’re Printful, not The Printful, and our domain name needs to reflect that,” says Davis Siksnans, CEO of Printful. (more…)

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