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Ultimate Guide: What brand owners need to know before they buy a domain name

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Brand protection

Securing the right domain name is important for your online business. Domain names now represent key business assets more than ever before. Below is an essential guide to domain names that will help set you up for success. Read on!


What is a domain name?


A domain name is an online address that takes visitors and customers to your website. This address, also known as Uniform Resource Locator or URL (e.g., "") is the equivalent to the address to your physical business location.

Therefore, you need a domain name that matches your business’s name to make it easy for your customers and clients to find you online.

Because of this, it is important to research, find and register a domain name (or names) that will function effectively as components of your brand and IP, very early in the life of your business.



Why do I need a domain name?


Registering and securing a domain name is quintessential for your online business, your reputation and your authority.

Over time, your domain name will gather strength, reinforce your identity and receive recognition from:

  • Clients, partners, collaborators and influencers
  • Search engines, like Google, which are at the heart of your discoverability via SEO for higher and prominent ranking within search results that increase web traffic, which translates to "digital footfall" for your business.

Your domain name, in essence, becomes the essence of your brand online, a promise of trust, the values you represent and your reputation.

For all these reasons, maintaining a domain name portfolio effectively is as critical and valuable to businesses in 2021 as registered trade marks.


Priorities when registering a domain name


Before registering a domain name you should consider the following:

  • Your domain name should match your brand so that is instantly recognisable by your clients, partners and brand ambassadors
  • It is user-friendly, as short as possible in length (as a rule of thumb keep it shorter than 12 characters)
  • Securing the extensions of your domain names, e.g. ".com", "" and any country extensions you may be considering expanding into or hosting a website in a foreign language
  • New extensions that will set you apart from your competitors, such as ".club", ".group" or ".online"
  • Defensive registrations to avoid squatting by third parties
  • Your budgetary limitations: most domain names are relatively cheap but over time a larger portfolio may cost more for renewals and maintenance - striking a balance is key



How to Buy a Domain Name


To start off with, you need to make sure your domain name is available.

Even if you have an established business, there may be another business that has the domain name you want.

Sites like GoDaddy are great for finding domain names and allow you to purchase the domain for the length of period you choose.

You also have the choice to register which top-level domain (TLD) your domain is attributed to.

For example ".com" and "" are the most common TLDs that businesses tend to go for in the United Kingdom.

Note that certain top-level domains (TLDs) can be viewed as less trustworthy than others by both your stakeholders (e.g. clients) and also search engines that you will appear on.

As such, choosing the right TLD as well as the domain name can also be an important choice to consider.



How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?


The price of a domain name will vary, although most .com names are quite cheap, at least for the first year of registration.

The minimum price you can get a domain for on is £0.99, but this can reach up to thousands of pounds for more popular domains.

The more popular the domain name you want to acquire, the more premium price you will have to pay, for example; ‘alpha’ with the domain "" will cost £22,000.

More expensive domains can offer better commercial opportunities for businesses but may be more expensive to maintain.

The decision comes to the business owner as to whether to buy an attractive asset or a cheaper one which is then developed into a recognisable URL over time.

Remember, the initial price is only part of the cost of acquiring a domain name. You should make budget allowances for renewals, SSL certificates and DNSSEC adoption, especially if you are building an e-commerce site or require clients to register.



What to Do If a Domain Name is Taken?


Don’t panic!

The domain name you want may be available in an alternative extension: ".com" or "" or why not, ".online".

Research availability in available extensions and check what websites are hosted by taken domain names already taken. Does the domain name you want to resolve to content? Or is it a holding page (parked domain) or a pay-per-click (PPC) site?

There is a high possibility that you can offer to buy the domain name from the current registrant by using a brokerage service through an accredited registrar, such as GoDaddy. 

Alternatively, if you own the trademark that matches the domain name you can request that the name is dropped or transferred to your ownership.

If you own the trademark you also have the option of a UDRP or litigation as a last resort.

For these last two options get in touch with our brand protection team for help, as this procedure can be difficult to do on your own.


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How do I protect a Domain Name?


Registering and owning the trademark that matches your domain name is your first line of defence.

A national or international trademark registration (through WIPO) will protect you in various jurisdictions.

Monitoring your domain name and detecting new third-party, bad-faith registrations is paramount and should be an integral component of your brand protection strategy.

For this reason, you should allocate and trust the management of your domain names with the brand team and IP experts in your organisation, avoiding leaving it in the hands of IT for example.

Virtuoso Vigilance by Virtuoso Legal offers our clients a comprehensive brand assessment and protection solution. If you would like to know click the button below to contact our experts for all your online brand protection questions.


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Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide.

Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court.

In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique.

The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.

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