Why leaving a brand’s fence gate wide open can be costly

Leaving a brand’s fence gate wide open can be costly
Reading Time | 6 Minutes

Happy New Year readers! 🥳🎉

It’s been a long time (uh, 2020!) since I left you, without some domain reading to read too. Read too, read too, read too. Read too, read too, read too.

I’m dating myself as I hum the late Aaliyah’s song Try again from the film and album soundtrack Romeo Must Die.

Now that I have your head bobbing to the beat, let’s get down to business about the perils of leaving your brand’s fence gate wide open.

Keys to successful branding

Everyone knows, rather should know, that the five keys to successfully precipitate around forming a unique identity, vision, target marketing, familiarity with customers, and uniformity. Each of these keys is critical to ensure a brand’s market share and longevity in the minds of its customers.

While out for a walk to stretch my legs this second day into 2021, I was left bewildered, baffled, puzzled and any other synonymous wording when I discovered the Pflugerville Pfence Company and their branding selection for their domain name.

First of all, I was very impressed with the workmanship of the cedar fence they replaced, yet not so much with the 25+ character domain chosen to brand their top-notch work: PflugervillePfenceCompany.com.

A few fellow domain investors chimed in over the weekend with a few thoughts of their own as to why the given branding selection for the domain was not the best option.

Before I dive into the details — insight, best practices, and opinions, let me say that the Pflugerville Pfence Company represents a large percentage of mom and pop shops that commit the same, if not worst, faux paws when selecting a domain to represent their brand online and offline.

From using alphanumeric domains to using too long of a domain, most mom and pop shops’ domain selections to represent their brand fail most, if not all, radio/podcast tests.

What attributes make for a good small business domain to brand?

Let’s dive into the details and breakdown of why Pflugerville Pfence Company’s domain selection is not the best branding decision.

I’ll also address and whether or not better variations exist to limit, if not eliminate, competition and best position and realize the keys to successful branding.

How long is too long for a small business domain?

While the domain name police aren’t going to arrest you for an excessively long domain name, small businesses also shouldn’t aim to use all 263 characters allowed when branding and registering a domain name for their business.

In fact, I encourage small businesses, and all brands regardless of the size, to use a 15-character limit when considering domains to represent their brand.

The “sweet spot” is often between 6-10 characters, based upon an analysis performed by Squadhelp testing the correlation between domain length and sale through rate.

In regards to Pflugerville Pfence Company, one challenge this brand is handicapped by is the fact that the first word alone is 12 characters.

However, the good news is that Pflugerville is a target city in which the company is likely to service most of its customers in addition to the greater Austin-metro area.

Is your brand spelled the way it phonetically sounds?

When branding a name, especially a business, you want to be sure to steer clear of homonyms, specifically homophones, and homographs.

Homophones are words that sound alike, yet are spelled differently (i.e., two/to/too, one/won/, on/own, break/brake).

Homographs are words that are spelled the same, yet are pronounced similar or strikingly different (i.e., bass — fish or low, deep voice, address — to speak to or location, resume — continue or employment document).

Be honest, before you saw Pflugerville Pfence Company with your eyes, you likely would have spelled it accordingly to how it phonetically sounds, right?

Before moving to and becoming a Pflugerville resident back in 2004, I would have spelled it Fluggerville or Flugerville. And likely is the case, I would have spelled Pflugerville Pfence Company as Fluggerville Fence Company.

But in the defense of Pflugerville Pfence Company, most Pflugerville resident’s, and likely surrounding cities, are going to know how to spell the city in which they reside in — that’s the hope. 🙂

Why include unnecessary words in a domain that provide no value?

Before I jump to the second word in the company name, let’s state the obvious. While the company uses the word “company” in its name, I’m of the opinion that adding it as a part of the domain name adds no value.

In fact, it’s more typing and writing when considering emails, and limits/constricts the ability to use the domain when print, wrap, and billboard advertising, to say the least.

My vote is Pflugerville Pfence Company loses the word “company” from its domain, which leaves Pfence to address.

Why go crazy with abbreviations, slang, acronyms, and weird spellings?

Sometimes small business owners and especially creative marketing types can go one step too far when attempting to be clever in naming a brand.

I’ve encountered too many brands that add unnecessary letters (i.e., Fiverr), drop letters (i.e., Scribd, Pixlr, Blendr, and Mndfl, to name but a few), or sometimes swap letters (i.e., “z” for “s”) to create a nonsensical brand to call their very own.

While companies have a long history of picking phonetically fabricated brands when naming their company, especially in the early 2000s, companies today are starting to choose normal names again.

In the case of Pflugerville Pfence Company, no one in their right mind will ever spell the word fence as pfence. Ain’t gonna happen!

Based on the aforementioned insights in the previous section, I’d advise Pflugerville Pfence Company to include the correct spelling of fence in its domain name instead of the cutesy “pf” throwback or head nod to the “pf” in Pflugerville.

In addition, instead of using PflugverillePfenceCompany.com as its domain, I strongly encourage this company to migrate to PflugervilleFence.com or PflugervilleFences.com as a primary brand, redirecting the singular to the plural or vice versa.

Why every small business should consider defensive domain registrations

And for added brand protection, keeping existing or new competition from benefiting due to brand dilution, I encourage Pflugerville Pfence Company to defensively register brand variations, such as the following:

PTX is short for Pflugerville, Texas while Pville is an abbreviation for Pflugerville. Both could create unique opportunities as a brandable geo service domain.

As an added bonus, I strongly encourage the same defensive registration for each of the surrounding cities in Austin (i.e., Round Rock, Cedar Park, Austin, Georgetown, Leander, etc.).

After all, you never know how far or big a brand will grow. It’s always better to have had a plan and not needed it, rather than needed a plan and didn’t have it.

Or said specifically about domains, it’s less costly to have registered a domain today and not needed it, rather than to need it, and it cost an arm and two legs to secure it, or it falls into the hands of your competition and is off the market forever.

How much is the future of your brand worth to you get it right today? Exactly, too much on the line to risk being overly clever and cute!

Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s when branding domains

The next time a creative type or marketing agency tries to pitch you branding your small business, project, service, product, or anything else under the sun, and they break one or more of the aforementioned guidelines, simply thank them for their services and move on.

If they ask you why you’re ending the engagement, then simply shoot them this article as having saved you from the money pit of brand dilution and destruction.

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression, especially when operating a business in a progressively digital economy.

Alvin Brown
Alvin is a serial entrepreneur and digital strategist with an avid love for domain name consulting. As the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of DNAdverts.com, his assignment is to ensure business and personal brands don't suffer the consequences of common domain name pitfalls.

As a domain investor and business consultant, Alvin actively participates in daily domain auctions. Outside of auctions, he passionately shares his views, opinions, and vision for how businesses should and should not use domain names to generate greater customer growth and revenue.