Rob Frankel - Branding Expert

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The Cheapest Insurance You Can Buy

As most of you know by now, I pretty much make my living by creating brands and developing brand strategies for start-ups and existing businesses. A good deal of the time, that means not only figuring out how to make the public buy something, but figuring out what to call whatever it is we want them to buy. So more often than not, I create the brand names, too.

When it comes to online branding, that means I've got to do some fancy footwork, creating strategically sound names that are -- hopefully -- not being held for ransom by some pimply sixteen year old high school kid with visions of extorting millions from my clients.

If you've ever tried it, it's not easy coming up with an original name. But when you do, I heartily recommend taking out an insurance policy to protect yourself from poachers, squatters, competitors and -- you guessed it -- pimply sixteen year old high school kids with visions of extorting millions from you.

Ready? Here's what I do when I register a new domain:

1. Register all three extensions: .com. .net. and .org
2. Register the plural and singular versions
3. Register the hyphenated versions (if it's a compound name)

Sounds pretty obvious so far, eh? Well, here's one you may not have thought of:

4. Register both the "e" and the "i" versions, if you've got 'em.

For example, if you're into selling gerbils on the web, your organization might be called "" But if e-gerbils becomes a hot category, you just know a competitor is going to launch "" -- if you let him. Better to play it safe and register both versions and nail him before he gets out of the gate.


In case any of you are wondering, "Hey, Rob, do you really expect us to believe you would make a client register 24 -- yes, that's what it works out to -- URL's for only one site?" You bet your trademark infringement suit I do. In fact, I did just that for a client last month. We registered 24 URL's pointing to the same home page, which is about as close to nailing down all the doors and windows as you can get.

And what did it cost? Oh, about $1,680 -- chicken feed when you realize that just one squatter could choke you for $10,000 per domain if he had the mind to.

You want the cheapest insurance on the planet? Internic sells it to you daily -- if you're smart enough to buy it.

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