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Protect Your Brand, Look After Your Domain Name

Dot Cotton isn't a valid domain

We’ve all done it, it’s not big, not clever. Even I have on one occasion lost my domain name. How does this happen and how can we protect against it?

Domain Types

Domain names come in different flavours. Most people know think of .com as the web domain. This “top level domain” is available for everyone and is a valid choice for a commercial organisation. Clearly within the UK a .co.uk is a valid alternative and generally a little cheaper. This country code top-level domain is one that will locate your business to your country. Sometimes it is worth considering whether your trade will be primarily UK based or international before purchasing domains. Whatever it will be worth ring-fencing the alternatives.

In the past business names were frequently arrived at by an accountant purchasing an ‘off the shelf’ company. Thankfully this practice is now much less prevalent. Ideally the company name should say something about the company and there should be a ‘fit’ between what the company does and what it is called. Death Star Skin Treatment Remedies is hardly going to work is it? A bit like naming a sports car company after someone who’s called Trevor? What, they did…?

Buying a Domain Name

It’s wise to make sure the domain-name is available early on so that the company name matches the domain name. Fortunately company names can be checked through the Companies House website and there are many websites that offer Whois lookups that will enable you to check the availability of a domain name.

It is essential that you don’t allow people to buy domains on your behalf.
It is essential that you don’t allow people to buy domains on your behalf.
It is essential that you don’t allow people to buy domains on your behalf.
It is essential that you don’t allow people to buy domains on your behalf.

With the best will in the world you may lose track of the person who has bought the domain for you and if you do you will lose a hugely important aspect of your brand.

There are many good companies who you can use to buy domains through. You effectively buy a licence to use that domain for one, two, five or even ten years. As a rule of thumb a .co.uk will cost around £10 for two years. DesignCredo will happily put you in touch with our favoured supplier. We use them because the service is good, price is reasonable and you speak to a person when you phone up. Make sure that you use a valid email address when you purchase your domain and make sure that you update this if you ever change your email address.

What if I lose my domain?

The right to use a domain lasts for a fixed period of time towards the end of which you will be invited to renew the domain. People lose access to their domains for a number of reasons. They forget to renew them or they leave the process in the hands of someone else who does the same. Sometimes this can be resolved with the help of Nominet (for .co.uk’s) but occasionally you will have to play the waiting game. At the point when the domain expires a period of around 90 days will pass while it is returned to the open market. Basically you have to make sure that you are the first person to attempt to renew it, that’s about all there is to it.

Frequently there are similar versions of your domain name, maybe with a hyphen or the .com rather than the .co.uk. Why not buy these, either use them to point to your website or park them to keep other people from trading in a style similar to your own.

How Valuable is My Domain Name?

Recently news reports suggest that there is money to be made from speculating on domain names. Poker.org reputedly sold for $1 million. For most of us though, we are trying to build and protect more humble brands.

But, do not underestimate your brand. Look after it. Your brand is part of the net value of your business and your domain name is a huge part of this brand.

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