The short answer to this question is yes, but I will go into more detail below!
I have talked about starter domains and the fact that many new companies will start with one, but now I wanted to talk about the reason why your company needs to own the best domain name.
Trust is and will always be something online companies face as a challenge. There isn’t a face-to-face meeting or a physical door and signage to welcome people, your domain has to do it. The norm on a global scale are domain names ending in .com, and owning the exact-matching .com domain name to your brand is one of the best ways to instill that trust!
Brand consistency is a key factor in growth, conversion, and brand alignment. Target is well known for its red colors and the bullseye logo. Although Target is a physical store, a very large role is played by its e-commerce offering on Target.com. Yes, people know its “the” Target when they are driving into the parking lot because of the branding on the facade, but only by marketing and owning Target.com do its customers know that Target.com IS Target.
Security is the backdoor of trust. Due to steps taken to provide security to your customers, things like spoofing are much harder when you own the best domain name. If, for example, your company uses a .co domain name, a customer may not question getting an email from the same name but with the .com ending. It’s natural. What if your services involve sensitive data transmission? Like a bank, legal, medical, or many other similar offerings. Owning the best .com domain name to your brand is a security method.
It’s the norm to own the best, make-sense, .com domain name for your brand. It’s YOU, right? Is everybody doing it out of peer pressure, or does the data back it up?
The data backs it up! 99% of Fortune 500 companies use .com domain names. Ninety-nine percent! The biggest brands in the world reside on exact-matching domains that end in .com. Microsoft, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Ford, GM, Tesla, Paypal, Allstate… I could go on for hours and literally provide millions of examples. The global norm for a company's main domain name is .com.
Longevity goes along with trust. Domain names are often a big investment for companies, but knowing a company is in it for the long haul means the consumer feels they can invest the time and effort involved because they aren't dealing with a fly-by-night kind of company.
Control is very important in business. Having to rely on an external site or service like social media services can easily raise red flags for your company due to the lack of control. Building your brand on your domain name's website provides you control and ownership of your brand instead. Relying on social media providers to give you results is an issue because policies change, downtime happens, and trends fade. Be in control of your offerings.
Asset is often overlooked with domain names but many companies around the world brand as a term that many others use. The higher the demand, the higher its one-of-a-kind value rises. Just like you may have to invest in making a purchase, somebody else may also be interested in the same domain. Since domain names are all unique and one of a kind, options are limited and the asset shines in situations like this. For example, when Gannett acquired the rest of the business of Cars.com from its partners, it broke down its assets and came to conclude that the domain name Cars.com itself was an “Indefinite-lived intangible assets: $872,320,000.” in the company’s SEC filings.
We live in a big world and we all want to think that our brand is ours but the reality is, there are other brands in this world with the same name and consumers are not always aware of it. In business, you always want to have control over as much as you can and own the best, makes-sense .com domain name for your brand as a security blank that instills trust and simply makes sense.
Still not convinced? I can point out this article that houses real data to back up the norm factor mentioned above. I continue daily reporting, adding more and more companies to the list via my Twitter feed @DotWeekly. Don’t let your chance pass you by. Don’t force yourself into a rebranding situation because you failed to act when you had the chance and got overshadowed by a matching company name with the best domain.
"But my company is focused on a web application, so my domain name isn’t important."
It is important! Brand consistency. Security. Communication. Discovery. Apps don’t get downloads on their own. They need to be marketed just like anything else.
Having a centralized location to drive traffic to, provide the trust the consumer is looking for, and learn more about your offering is key to get the user to download your app and keep using it.
Email is and will continue to be a driving force for profit and communicating with consumers, so not having that “norm” domain name may present trust issues to go along with the security issues mentioned above by not having the best domain to communicate with customers.
I hope this may help you make the very important decision in regard to your domain name and if the investment is the best choice.