A lot of thought should go into picking the right domain name from your business.
Just ask Willy Ogorzaly, CEO of JustLegal. His company, which connects consumers with attorneys, is now on its third domain name. A bit of homework might have saved him from rebranding twice.
A Generic Start
The company started as a class project, and the original idea was to connect consumers to many types of experts through online video. He came up with the name Congo, which stood for “Consultation on the go”.
“We decided that Congo was broad enough… that it could work for all industries,” he said.
He registered Congo.io and started building the business. Soon, the company ran into two problems with the name.
First, the company pivoted to focus only on connecting consumers with attorneys, so the name wasn’t specific enough.
Second, a lot of people associated the name with the African country of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Then, the final straw was when he decided he wanted to buy Congo.com to go with Congo.io. The owner wanted way more than Ogorzaly’s young business could afford. So he decided it was time to rebrand.
A Better Name, But…
Orgorzaly wanted to make lemonade out of lemons, so he came up with a way to find a new domain name while simultaneously getting press for his business.
He ran a crowd-sourced contest in which people could propose new domain names for the company. The only limitation was that the domain had to be available for purchase for less than $3,000. The winner would get $1,000.
People submitted over 700 domains and the company got lots of press.
Congo rebranded to LawBooth.com, a domain name it bought for $1,700. It quickly discovered some problems, though.
“We didn’t do a good enough trademark search,” Orgorzaly said.
It turns out there was another company with a similar name. Even though it had shut down, this connection caused Orgorzaly’s company some headaches.
He also discovered that the domain didn’t pass the radio test. This means that people who heard the company name didn’t understand the name and how to spell it.
“It looked on paper like it passed the radio test, but in practice, it really didn’t,” he said. “Looking back, we should have run some tests, and we were in a coworking space so we could have just walked around and it wouldn’t have been hard.”
Potential customers also didn’t understand the connotation.
“People didn’t really get the booth piece, we also had a heart in our logo…if anything people thought we were like a lawyer dating service!”
The worst drawback, though, was that new investors into the company hated the name.
Third Time’s the Charm
It was back to the drawing board.
After some research and brainstorming efforts, the investors and company started to gravitate toward the name JustLegal.
“We had to strike a balance between cutsie and kind of too stodgy,” Orgorzaly said. “JustLegal was right in the middle.”
This time, the company smartly ran the radio test on the domain and performed a trademark search. The company acquired JustLegal.com and rebranded.
Orgorzaly said the company has some early confirmation that the brand switch was a good move. Among other things. the company has been featured in the same publication several times, and they are seeing many more clicks to their website in posts since the name change.
Here are three takeaways when naming your business:
- Run a trademark search before you settle on a name or a domain.
- Tell friends the name and make sure they can spell it.
- Be flexible! Your first choice (or even your second!) may not be the best one.
Listen to Orgorzaly explain his company’s naming adventure in this podcast:
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Andrew Allemann is editor of Domain Name Wire, the longest-running blog covering the business of domain names. Domain Name Wire has covered the business of domain name investing for over ten years.