NameSilo Staff

Brandable vs. Descriptive Domain Name: Which is Better for Your Business?

The right domain name can propel your business forward in the market. It should work for you by being quickly recognizable to searchers and memorable enough for customers to find you when it’s time to make a purchase. 

Your domain name builds your value message and contributes to your online presence.

That is why choosing a strong domain name can take time.

There are two basic strategies to choosing a domain name for your website:

  • Brandable Domain Names
  • Descriptive Domain Names

Choosing the right domain can help get your name in front of your target audience with the least amount of effort. That is why understanding these strategies can help save precious time when starting or promoting a business website.

Brandable Domain Names

A brandable domain name is chosen for its catchy, imaginative quality. Branded domain names generally do not include any descriptive keywords or meanings and don’t inform searchers about the nature of the business. 

Examples of Brandable Domains are company names, such as:

  • Apple
  • John Deere
  • IKEA

Apple, the computer company, does not sell apples yet its name is recognizable the world over. That name has become synonymous with high-end, beautifully designed power devices. That presence took time to develop, but there are few places where that product name is not known.

Descriptive Domain Names

The descriptive domain name is chosen because of its keyword. That name explains what your business does or offers. It makes it easy for searchers who already know what they want to identify you and your offering. Search term recognition can also raise your page rankings. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms also “care” about other things, like the quality and relevance of your content. SEO is definitely the sum of many parts, but having a strong, easily identifiable keyword in your domain can contribute to your findability.

Examples of Descriptive Domains are company names, such as:

  • Mailboxes
  • Investopedia
  • Great Clips

Each of those names provides an intuitive explanation of what those businesses provide. They are clear and save time for people looking to send and receive mail, invest or get a haircut.

Brandable versus Descriptive

To summarize, a business that wants to focus on brand building and the benefits of name recognition and product excellence might want to choose a brandable domain name. That is especially important when the company wants to evoke an emotional connection as part of their brand story.

In contrast, a business that wants to attract internet savvy customers may choose to go with a descriptive domain name, as it will help attract new leads through the use of a highly relevant keyword or keyword phrase.

How does a business know which strategy is best? Below are some further details that can help you make this choice.

Why Choose A Brandable Domain Name?

There are many reasons why a brandable domain name is a good choice. One reason would be that the business, organization or individual already has some name recognition with a branded domain. There is existing momentum that could be lost if the site owner chooses to go with another name.

An image of a light bulb with brand name in it.

To illustrate, CBS Sports was a well-known sporting news outlet long before the internet or website technology emerged. It would have been counterproductive for that network to choose another, less recognizable name.

Branding Is A Powerful Strategy

It might be useful to think about a brandable domain name as something that is part of the larger business strategy that allows customers to distinguish the site owner from other businesses in the same industry.

Brand awareness, memorability, and industry recognition work together to build an online presence. 

For brands that are new, it may take slightly longer to build that same momentum as a descriptive name might, but social media campaigns and other promotions can speed up this growth curve.

Once established, a brandable domain can elicit a powerful emotional connection with customers. And that rapport is important, since data shows that over half of consumers base their purchasing decisions on the perceived shared values with a company. 

A well-known brand that has developed popularity in recent years is Airbnb. The name ”Airbnb” is made up, but it is not difficult to make a meaningful association. 

  • The name “Airbnb” resembles bed-and-breakfast.
  • Bed and breakfasts tend to be beautiful, privately owned homes, which reflects the value offering of Airbnb hosts.
  • Air connotes air travel. 
  • It’s short and to the point. 

Airbnb has ambitions to grow in the vacation hospitality industry through serving individuals that want to host travelers in their homes. Inventing a brandable name like benefits both the company and their customers (Airbnb hosts).

Why Choose A Descriptive Domain Name?

The strategy behind choosing a descriptive domain name is a bit more direct than a brandable version. Rather than establishing a brand, this type of domain name chooses a keyword or keyword phrase that clearly identifies the products or services the business or organization offers.

When choosing a descriptive name, look for something specific. For example, if a business sells only mountain bikes, it makes more sense to choose than a general name like 

These may be somewhat trickier to find, as there are a limited number of combinations of words available in each market niche. Branded domains benefit from greater availability since often brand names are fabricated words.

Descriptive names are self-explanatory. That means visitors will arrive on your site with a keener awareness of your products or services and be prepared to visit multiple pages while there.

SEO and Keyword Ranking Is A Powerful Strategy

There are sound business reasons for choosing a descriptive name. For some businesses, a brand name might be unclear, and audiences might need help immediately understanding what the business does

A descriptive domain name can help searchers identify products or services more quickly. In addition, because most descriptive domain names use keywords in the URL, it’s potentially easier for users to find your business through a search engine like Google. 

SEO can play a significant role in determining the order in which a domain appears in search engine results. In 2021 and beyond, the value of having keywords in a URL is somewhat less. But as part of the overall canon of keywords on a site, a keyword is still considered of value in search ranking by most industry insiders.

Lastly, users can potentially have an easier time saying, spelling, or even remembering descriptive domain names, which is good for business.

Which Type of Domain Do You Choose?

An image of a scale with brandable and descriptive on it.

Once the value of each type of domain name is clear, the time has come to choose. Here’s a quick summary:

Pros of Brandable Domain Names:

  • They are unique and set you apart from the competition.
  • They are easier to trademark for protection.
  • They elicit an emotional response.
  • They create a sense of community with customers.
  • They have better availability.

Cons of Brandable Domain Names:

  • They are not necessarily ideal for SEO because they do not use keywords.
  • They are not as easy to remember without investing in advertising and marketing.

Descriptive Domain Names:

  • They are clear, simple, and eliminate confusion.
  • They can be easier to remember.
  • They do not require as much investment in advertising as brandable names.

However, Descriptive Names:

  • Do not have the same emotional impact that a brandable name does.
  • Do not create the same sense of community as brandable names.
  • Often use generic terms when not utilizing a brand name.
  • Have less availability.

Brandable names can set a business apart through creativity and uniqueness, and suggest a future roadmap for your business and brand awareness, digitally speaking. But descriptive names focus on clarity and the immediate ease of search.

Three Final Considerations for Your Domain Name Strategy

First, think like a customer. If a customer is searching for a product or service, what is going to catch their eye? 

Think about the long term. Will a domain name stay relevant? Does it rely too heavily on current issues? 

Lastly, consider what is most important for your business. Do you want the best SEO, findability, and search ranking? Or is brand awareness, sense of community, or identity the vital component that connects you with the people you serve? 

Once you choose the type of domain name that best suits your requirements, the next step is to search for an available domain, and register it. We are always happy to assist you. Contact us here if you need help searching for a suitable domain name!

About the Author:

NameSilo Staff

The NameSilo staff of writers worked together on this post. It was a combination of efforts from our passionate writers that produce content to educate and provide insights for all our readers.

by NameSilo Staff's.

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