July 29, 2017 (Sat). I write about domain names on LinkedIn six days a week, so a CEO friend said to me, "It must be very tiring!" No, I think it's a blessing to be able to do and share what you really like. Moreover, writing helps me better organize my thoughts, so today let me share with you what I understand about domain names.
Technically speaking, a domain name is an address. Every company, school, or government agency on the internet has an address (IP). The IP address is a string of numbers, such as 184.108.40.206 for the ecommerce giant Jing Dong. IP addresses are difficult to remember and so not convenient for consumers to visit shops online.
Fortunately, internet pioneers already solved this problem by inventing a system to convert an IP address to a name ("domain name"). If you remember the name, you can go to the right address to visit a shop. For example, Jing Dong's internet address can be written as JD.com, which is simple and easy to remember. For the curious minds, you can try both JD.com and 220.127.116.11 in your browser and check if there is any difference. Also, do you want to know the IP address of your domain name? Just use an IP address converter service such as http://ip.chinaz.com.
Another interesting thing is that when domain name began some 30 years ago, the naming format was very cumbersome. For example, Jing Dong's domain name must be written as http://www.jd.com. However, as internet technologies matured, http: // was dropped and www. is no longer required. All you need to enter is the name and the extension: jd.com. So convenient!
Have you noticed that some domain names have only one dot but others have two? The reason is perhaps that in the early days, some internet organizations worried about running out of domain names, so two dots were introduced to create more names. However, the trend is to simplify and standardize on just one dot. Many country extensions have already gone this way, and hundreds of new extensions are following suit. In China, the same trend is happening -- domain names using .cn are 8 times more than names using .com.cn.
You may wonder: what is the right way to write a domain name? Actually, you can use uppercase, lowercase, or a combination of them. This characteristic gives you freedom to be creative. In most cases, you want to match your domain name with your brand name in order to help consumers easily remember both of them. For example, Apple's mobile phone brand is iPhone, so its domain name is written as iPhone.com. On the other hand, bike sharing startup OFO's domain name should be written as OFO.com. For domain names containing two or more words, uppercase can be used to separate the words. For example, BabyTree.com is easier to read than babytree.com.
Some may ask: if you build your business on a .cn domain name, can you later grow your business beyond China? Well, technically there is no problem. The issue is more of consumer awareness. Not many consumers outside China know the .cn extension, so the global extension .com is a much better choice. For example: OFO used OFO.so (Somalia country extension) in its early days, but had to shell out $1 million to acquire OFO.com recently. So, my suggestion is to use .com from day one of your business, so that you are always ready to go global. I have written two articles on how you can do it cheaply. Please read "How to create a global brand .com with only $10" and "See how my friend Fale created a globally branded domain name".
Finally, businesses should use their branded domain name to help consumers easily remember both their brand and domain name. What is a branded domain name (品牌域名)? I think a branded domain name should meet two conditions: (1) The name part must be exactly the same as the brand or its acronym. (2) The extension must be either .com or .cn. For details, please read "Do you own your branded domain name?"