July 19th, 2016

We recently had the exciting opportunity to work with a company looking for a brand new brand (more to be revealed next month). This meant step one was coming up with a name for this online-based company. Exciting stuff! The brain juices were flowing and the possibilities seemed endless. But then we hit a major stumbling block: Which domain names are actually still available?

The web can be a slippery place. Lots of clever people (called “domain investors” or “domainers” or, as we call them, “pirates”) are out there snapping up popular, or potentially popular, domain names left, right and centre. The domainers buy up generic domain names, and then wait to get approached, or actively go and seek someone who will buy them for a huge amount of money.

Many domains are not actually in use but are used as ‘parking spaces’ by the domainers for ads related to the domain name. This can generate a huge income from the PPC ads, which is why they can ask for ridiculous amounts of money to sell them to someone who genuinely wants to develop a nice website.

So the options you are left with are: 1) fork out a ridiculous sum to get a good solid name, or 2) get creative with your new name. Here at Hatched, being a creative agency ‘n all, we went with the latter.

But it did raise some serious questions. What happens now the web really is so densely saturated? Is there space for new brands? Does the URL have to be the same as the company name? Should you start looking beyond the dotcom? For example, Hatched.agency, Hatched.london, Hatched.amazeballs? Is this where the future lies in the domain space?

I started looking at some good domain battles to see what beef there has been in the past and what happened. A classic one was the domain battle between internet giants Amazon and err.. rainforest giants – the Amazon.

A couple of years ago, Peru and Brazil launched objections against a bid raised by Amazon for a prime piece of online real estate: .amazon. The internet retailer applied for a whole bunch of generic top level domain names (gTLDs), including .book and .free, but the South American governments argued that they might need .amazon, and they won! Hurray!


Another story of David and Goliath is when Disney won the domain name battle for Starwars.co.uk against a Berkshire-based fancy dress store. The owner, Mark Lewis states: “Are we disappointed? Yes. Are we surprised? Not necessarily.” True that.


You can always be a little more abstract if you can’t get the exact name. B&Q win this with their main domain being diy.com. There is also a wide range of top level domains now available, from .shoes, .pizza to .beer. This new internet Pandora’s box of opportunities has only come about in the last few years, with the number of gTLDs available in 2012 only being around 20, whereas last month we surpassed the 1,000 mark, and it keeps progressing. The moral of the story here is to be bold, be creative, but be careful not to fall into a trap like these unfortunate companies.