It happens. Sometimes a business picks a domain name that either wish they hadn’t, or simply begins to lack relevance as the company vision evolves. What started as an awesome idea in the boardroom often turns out to become a hindrance rather than an asset, causing brand confusion and vagueness, factors that ultimately contribute to the decision to rename a website. A great domain name appropriates the brand, reflecting its core story, and in this age of social media, a domain name must enable netizens to establish a seamless association between the primary intention of the service/product and the URL.
If your domain name is getting you down but you feel you’ve come too far down the road to make a u-turn, here’s some inspiration for you. Some of the biggest brands started off with names that either didn’t bring the company the success it had envisioned, or, required changing as the web and netizen habits evolved. All six companies in the list below made a positive change and went on to be extremely successful.
Remember AskJeeves.com? This innovation created by David Warthen and Garrett Gruener was the first search engine capable of responding to questions, not just keywords. Yet in 2006 they dropped Jeeves, keeping the English cartoon butler and changing the domain to Ask.com; shorter, savvier and easier for type-in traffic.
Yes indeed, Facebook wasn’t always as cool. The original site was thefacebook.com. In 2005 creator Mark Zuckerburg and his team decided to lose the horrid “the” and bought “facebook.com,” for an estimated $200,000.
PayPal was once X.com believe it or not. The “X” represented a universally recognizable symbol of a programming variable for developers, but was later ousted when user surveys deemed the name potentially pornographic and vague. Needless to say the change has seen PayPal become the biggest online payment service.
Two of Stanford’s finest graduates, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, originally built Google on “google.stanford.edu,” the Stanford web network. Like many blogs that start off on free hosts with awkward URLs, the pair decided to fly the nest and registered “Google.com” in September 1997, officially launching independently a year later.
Founded in 1999, Overstock.com started out with its current domain name, only to rebrand with a simplified version, “O.co.” Customers were miffed, which prompted a reversion to the original, with O.co redirected back to Overstock.com. Had the board considered O.com, things might have been very different.
The King of all things nice and “short,” Twitter launched with the name “Twttr.com”, which was inspired by SMS shortcode. A few months after the site launched in 2006, the owners decided to shed out $7,500 for a full vowel-laden version of the name, purchasing Twitter.com from an existing “bird enthusiast” website.
And so, you see, it’s never too late to make a change!