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James Iles

A Guide to Brandable Domains, With BrandBucket's Michael Krell

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By James Iles, May 2, 2016
  1. James Iles

    James Iles Top Member PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    I’ll admit that I know very little about brandable domain names. With the occurrence of the popular Chinese short and numeric domain markets, and the great keyword names on offer, the brandable world has slipped under my radar. After reading about a number of investors who were making moves into brandable names, I wanted to know more.

    I decided that the best person to speak to about brandable domains is someone that is completely immersed in the brandable niche, thanks to his role with BrandBucket. Michael Krell is the managing director of BrandBucket, a domain name marketplace with handpicked brandable domains for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.

    Before taking up his role with BrandBucket, Michael created a $100,000 revenue stream out of brandable domains, from a $1,000 investment, as documented at DomainSherpa.

    As a brandable newbie I personally had a few basic questions that Michael was gracious enough to answer. If you, like me, are looking to learn a little more about brandable names, I hope this interview from Michael is food for thought.


    NP: What is considered a brandable domain?

    Michael: Generally speaking, a brandable domain is anything a business would call itself. Sometimes it is easier to say what a brandable isn’t. In my opinion, a brandable domain is not:
    1. A geo domain. Think Enterprise.com instead of NewYorkRentalCars.com
    2. A descriptive keyword name. Think DeWalt instead of ElectricPowerTools.com
    3. A long-tailed keyword name. Think IKEA instead of DiscountedModernEuropeanFurniture.com
    A rule-of-thumb is that if the domain matches the real name of the business, it is a brandable.


    NP: Are brandables generally one-word, two-word or longer?

    Michael: It might be easier to break brandables down into two categories which are invented and keyword.

    An invented name is a non-dictionary word that is made-up and doesn’t contain any dictionary root words. Some examples of invented brandable names include Xerox, Roku, and Hulu. The adage of the shorter the better is definitely true for invented names because they aren’t real words. So the more consonants and letters, the less likely someone is to remember it because they don’t have any reference points like if it were made up of real words.

    Keyword names can be a couple of things. They can be made up of 1 or more real words. Some examples include Slack, Windows, Apple, and DraftKings. The other form of keyword brandables contain a real dictionary words at its base with an ending attached. Examples include, Spotify, Feedly, and Bitly.

    Then you have a hybrid of the both that include deliberate misspellings of words or is a name that is phonetically similar to a real word. Think Zomato (this was purchased on BrandBucket), FlipKart, Lyft, Quickr, and Automaatic


    NP: How do you acquire brandable domains?

    Michael: I acquire nearly all my names through the drops and GoDaddy Auctions. I hand reg a very small percentage. Maybe 1%-2%.


    NP: Is it better to buy expired domains vs registering new names?

    Michael: I’ve always been one to buy names on the drops or auctions, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a bundle to acquire really nice names. I am very active and I might only buy 1-2 names a week over $100. You can get a lot of quality names $20 or less that you can retail for 100x or 200x your acquisition price.

    Having said that, BrandBucket does have successful sellers that only sell hand registered names. No matter what your acquisition strategy you choose, you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money until you understand what exactly you are buying and if there are endusers out there who want to buy your names.


    NP: How long, on average, would it take to sell a brandable name?

    Michael: I can say that the average age of a sold name on BrandBucket is a little over 6 months, but with any domain, it is difficult to say when any name will sell. To give your name the best chance of selling, you want it to appeal to as wide of audience as possible and be priced competitively


    NP: What is the average sales price of a brandable name at BrandBucket?

    Michael: The average sales price for 2015 is just under $3000.


    NP: Who uses brandable names?

    Michael: Well just about every business in the world has a brand and so they all can use a brandable domain. Most of our sales at BrandBucket are to startups, Venture Capital firms, incubators and serial entrepreneurs starting a new business. We also sell to companies who are looking to rebrand such as UrbanSpoon, which rebranded to Zomato.


    NP: Why is is best to use a marketplace such as BrandBucket in order to sell brandable names?

    Michael: We provide a marketplace that targets those startups and entrepreneurs with the capital to purchase a quality name. Brandables for the most part are passive sales and often don’t receive a whole lot of type-in traffic, so the potential customers wants to see a variety of options that match their search criteria.

    While individual sales are often passive, we are not passive in are marketing efforts. We spend considerable resources on promoting BrandBucket to these businesses and entrepreneurs.

    --

    Thanks to Michael for taking the time to talk about brandable domains. As someone who openly knew very little about this market, I know that the information within this interview will help me make more informed decisions about buying and selling brandable names.
     
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  4. James Iles

    About The Author — James Iles

    James is a domain name industry professional currently working on numerous domain industry research, acquisition and sales projects. Contact [email protected] For all inquiries relating to NamePros stories and interviews, please email: [email protected]

    This is James Iles's 189th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (77)

  6. DOMAIN ILLUMINATI

    DOMAIN ILLUMINATI Owner of ▲ the most expensive domain of all time. Gold Account

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    Interesting for investing.
     
  7. Azwan Asban

    Azwan Asban Top Member VIP

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    Yes and brandable name is safe investment for handreg domain for sure.
     
  8. domainspider28

    domainspider28 Established Member

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    Nice information
     
  9. Mr. Deleted

    Mr. Deleted Slabaugh.com 800-266-2728 VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I have submitted a few to his site, but they are just sitting there, pending for like a week.
     
  10. pablohc86

    pablohc86 Top Member VIP

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    Brandable it shuld be the most undervalued niche at the moment.
    If a name is purely brandable (because generic names can be great brandable) they are the least liquid category and you may hold it for long with no sale.
    You need to develop your nose for good brandable before jump in.
    Thanks for the interview, i'm really surspised to see 6 months as an extimated time for an average sale.
     
  11. London555

    London555 Top Member VIP

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    We have a certain name there on BrandBucket sitting for well over a year-we recently asked how many visits to the name there were and they couldn't or wouldn't tell us tell us. Great interview James but I wish you had asked Mr Krell how many "inside" ( re director /owners names) sell vs the retail listing domainer names that they charge a listing fee to without telling the domain owner any metrics whatsoever.
     
  12. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer Top Member PRO VIP

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    Thanks James!
     
  13. Recons.Com

    Recons.Com Top Member VIP

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    This kind of info can be quite misleading.

    What MK is effectively saying is that six months is an average for the names sold, not average for the names listed, because the latter would mean 50% sale ratio, while in reality it is around 3.8%.

    For the former, given that BB is not that old and it is constantly growing at fast pace, 6 months is not anything surprising. You could open your own marketplace and after one year boast 6 months average sale period.
     
  14. London555

    London555 Top Member VIP

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    Exceptionally misleading-you're correct.
     
  15. pablohc86

    pablohc86 Top Member VIP

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    nice catch!
    my bad interpretation. Now i agree with you and 6 monhts is an average on the average ;)
    i was thinking the average among all the names listed like you said
     
  16. Tom K

    Tom K Account Auto-Closed

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    Can we really call any 'brandable' domains as 'keyword' domains?

    Keyword domains are domains with a targeted word in them with the goal of enhancing SEO for that particular keyword (since 'keyword' is a term related to SEO). Windows.com is not targeting windows, nor is apple.com selling apples. My understanding is that when it comes to 'brandable' domains these are 'dictionary word' domains meant to be representative or metaphoric in nature of the products/services represented.

    Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
     
  17. Mr. Deleted

    Mr. Deleted Slabaugh.com 800-266-2728 VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Agreed, though some "keyword" names like Hotels.com have become brands, just like Travelocity. So, while selling names like Zomatos is great, I still think they should also own Tomatos.com, as some will be typing that in if they hear it on the radio.
     
  18. Tom K

    Tom K Account Auto-Closed

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    I think this a good conversation to have since 'brandable' domains as a business model is something fairly new.

    The interesting thing with Hotels.com is that they emphasize the dot com in all of their marketing. Something different than what Windows (Microsoft) or Apple are doing. So, yes, a generic keyword can be a brandable when you include the extension. There can only be one Hotels.com. And the fact that they also stress 'the obvious choice for hotels' (using the character of Capt. Obvious in their commercials) is brilliant. If they would only promote their business as simply 'Hotels', it would lose all of the brand because 'hotels' is just too generic. No one can claim a broad generic as their brand, but they can when including the extension. So in this case, yes, a generic keyword domain + extension can become a unique brand. Good example!
     
  19. Tom K

    Tom K Account Auto-Closed

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    Sorry, in reviewing what I wrote, I should clarify. Obviously Apple and Windows are broad generics. But they are used as symbolic, or metaphoric, brand names, not as literal keywords. I meant that when a generic name is used literally, e.g.: homes, booking, recipes, etc. Then in most cases (if not all) the extension becomes part of the brand in order to make it unique and stand out.
     
  20. Mr. Deleted

    Mr. Deleted Slabaugh.com 800-266-2728 VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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  21. namerav

    namerav Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Good one for Brandables, Informative, Thank You.
     
  22. deez007

    deez007 The More I Learn The Less I "Know" VIP

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    Awesome post James!

    Some solid advice here... thanks for taking the time to write this.
     
  23. DomainBELL

    DomainBELL DNOA Founding Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks for the great interview James...
    You cover interesting (needed) topics...
    ~Patricia -- Ohio USA
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    .
    .
     
  24. disaac81

    disaac81 Top Member VIP

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    To think what makes a great brandable domain, it is better to think what makes a great brand name. Whether that be a corporate name or a product name.

    Relevance is key to most names, be it literal or associative. Generally associative meanings create a stronger attachment with the audience, since it is asking them to think, and attaches to their memories.

    Anything with a personal attachment will create a stronger brand.

    Remember descriptive names are good and well as long as they are not restrictive.
     
  25. disaac81

    disaac81 Top Member VIP

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    Yes, it is the connotation rather than the definition that makes these brand names tick.

    It is difficult to separate the literal meaning of a word from it's associations at times, but it is the associations that you cannot deny. For example, just because the dictionary says this word means a and b, a and b do not create any feelings, where as an association to an experience does (think of the word sky, it makes you think of memories, blue skies, clearness, the sun, happiness etc).

    The experience within each of us bonds to the brand stronger than any other characteristic.
     
  26. DomainVP

    DomainVP Domain Expert VIP

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    More positioned advertising for Brand Bucket to try and scrub away recent negative sentiment.

    No domain investor should ever list a domain with BB. Most organic sales that are made by BB go to BB or Mr. Krell himself.

    When someone is looking for a brandable and they come across your domain through type-in, what exactly did BB do - nothing. Except for taking a 30% cut for no reason at all, unless you count having a 'landing page' as some kind of miracle service that justifies handing over 30% of a $4k sale that could have been a $8k sale of pure profit if you negotiated for yourself.

    I also forgot the $400 logo fee that you just dished out, when you could have gotten that same logo on Fiverr or Freelancer for $20 - $30.

    Let's also consider the 'almost' sale... where someone could type-in your domain and be presented with a list of 'similar domains' (typically Krell domains). The visitor may stop and second guess their desire for your domain and will go with another listed on the BB marketplace. - You just lost a sale because you are listed on BB.

    Nice article, but the title should be changed to, "How To Pick A Domain I Will Gladly Take 30% Of, With BrandBucket's Michael Krell"



    [​IMG]
     
  27. James Iles

    James Iles Top Member PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    @DomainVP - this isn't an advertising piece for BrandBucket. I initiated contact with Michael a few weeks ago because I wanted to learn about brandable names, and because of the past success of BrandBucket, I think he's in the best position to give advice to a newbie like me.

    These were questions I had about brandable names, and Michael's answers were so good & thorough that we turned it into a published interview.
     
  28. DomainVP

    DomainVP Domain Expert VIP

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    To your own credit; from reading your past posts, subject matter, I think you are more knowledgable than to refer to yourself as a 'newbie'.

    The article is good for newcomers to the brand game, brandables are great, but having Krell educate the masses on brandables is like having Dicker talking about how to build niche websites.

    To each his or her own, but there is a veil of promotion that is shrouded in featured posts - as any good marketer would have it.

    However, in a community forum format such as this, I think it's important for anyone who does come across the content to know that the same person who is touting brandables is speaking from a preferred position where they have advanced placement in a heavily marketed marketplace.
     
  29. James Iles

    James Iles Top Member PRO Gold Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    @DomainVP I'd consider myself a newbie when it comes to brandable names ;)
     
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