I’m sure you’ve seen branded links popping up everywhere these days. Most major brands like Pepsi, Virgin, Starbucks, Samsung are already using them to associate content they share with their brands. And for a reason.
Branded links help build brand recognition.
Having your brand on a link makes any content you share more visible and associate it with you.
They also help send quality signals about content you share.
Users who found the content helpful might be more likely to remember where they got it from.
And getting a branded domain is actually quite simple. However, finding the perfect domain name to use as your custom link shortener can be quite tricky and there are some things you need to remember:
1- Your link domain shouldn’t be too long
As the name suggests, a branded link is exactly that, a shorter version of a URL you want to share online. And thus you don’t want your domain name to take too much of the links estate.
2- It has to recall your brand
This one’s obvious, isn’t it?
3- Your link domain has to quickly suggest what’s the brand behind it.
Just like Pepsi’s pep.si. Or Virgin’s virg.in. Later in the post I’ll show you few ways to achieve it, even if you have a long brand name.
4- It has to be unique to you
Since the point of having the branded link is to provide a point of reference for the brand, it has to be unique to your brand only.
5- It must be easily memorable
For your link to work, your audience shouldn’t have any problems remembering it. Pep.si or virg.in, for instance fall into the memory with no effort. Spr.ly (Samsung Galaxy) isn’t (and it hardly relates to the brand, don’t you think?)
6- It has to be simple
A branded link can’t be too complex either. For instance, I think Starbuck’s link – sbux.co is quite confusing. The same with the aforementioned Samsung Galaxy.
7- Lastly, it should be simple to pronounce
Since you may be sharing your branded link in a conversation or over the phone, it’s important that it’s easy to pronounce and spell.
Three Steps to Choosing the Best Domain for Your Branded Links
Step 1. Identify How You’re Known on the Internet Already
First you need to identify how you’re actually known on the Internet. Is it by your brand name? First or second name? Or perhaps it’s a nickname?
Since your branded domain will represent your brand, be it business or personal and website, make sure that you pick what your audience will be the most familiar with.
For instance, in spite of his astonishing personal brand, Richard Branson prefers to use the Virgin’s branded link when sharing content online. In doing so he clearly communicates that the company is more important than him.
Step 2. Choose and Add a .Link Extension
The .link domain extension is very convenient as it clearly reveals the purpose behind the domain – sharing contents through links.
It’s also easy to spell and simple to remember.
And most importantly, it’s a new domain extension. This means that many words and phrases variations are still available on it.
Having said that, you may have to act fast as domain speculators are probably hard at work now registering different, potentially popular word combinations and phrases to resell later at a higher price.
BRAND + .LINK
To find out if your branded .link domain is still available, use the Rebrandly’s domain search tool:
Simply type in your brand name and the tool will output a list of available link domains:
If a domain is available, you will be able to register it directly through the tool (and at a price that’s lower than the industry’s average).
But what if you have a longer brand name that could become too long with .link extension? Or if a .link extension is already unavailable?
In such case, you could try using a country specific domain extension (CcTLD) to spell your brand’s name.
Wikipedia defines CcTLD as a country code top-level domain that is an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a country, a sovereign state, or a dependent territory.
Many countries allow to register their CcTLDs without having a physical presence there and thus, might allow you to use them in your link domain.
Here’s how to do it:
Take two last letters of your company name and check if there is a country which uses them as a top level domain. For instance, YouTube could use a Belgian domain .be – youtu.be. Virgin uses Indian CcTLD – virg.in.
Rebrandly’s domain search tool does it for you. When you type a text in the box the tool verify if he can be registered with a country code. Eg.: you type “Seriously” and the tool suggest you “Serious.ly”.
Here’s a full list of country specific top level domains on Wikipedia to help you find out if you could take this approach.
What if you can’t do either of those options?
If your brand name is too long for the .link domain and impossible to recreate with CcTLDs, your only option is to shorten it. This is a last resort…
You could, for instance, remove certain characters that would not obstruct the meaning (i.e.for rebrandly we could actually use rbrndly. It’s a shorter version but doesn’t disguise the company behind it).
You could also swap digraphs for similar phenome (i.e. Starbucks uses X for “cks” – sbux.co).
Lastly, you could use Thesaurus.net to find alternatives for words in your brand name.
If however you’re still struggling with finding the right domain for branded links, Tweet to @RebrandlyBuzz and we will have someone whip up some ideas for you on the spot.
What do you think?
Are you interested in using a branded links to share content online? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.