A little while ago, I was working with a client who wanted to change his very large company's brand name.
His greatest concern was that the new name should make for a simple URL.
I wondered whether it wasn't more important that the brand name should be memorable. Isn't that where it all starts? And ends?
I was reminded of this conversation Tuesday when I arrived in Austin, Texas. By chance and a glass of viognier, I encountered a photographer who wanted her work to enjoy a wider audience. She gave me her card, headlined by her URL: CourtneyChavanell.com. Which, given that Courtney Chavanell was her name, appeared to be appropriate.
However, I secretly wanted to tell her to change her name like actors do- because Chavanell is tough to remember. She said the key to her work was optimism, so I wanted to suggest that she change her professional name to Courtney Optimist. Everyone would remember that, URL or not.
There was a time when people thought URLs were the key to getting hordes to throng your site. Make it short, have one of the most important keywords--sex, free, go, eat, my, and porn being examples--and your fortune was made.
People still try to trade the most simple URLs for hopeful hundreds of thousands. They will still line up in the hope of getting a vanity URL from Facebook.
But don't most people simply go to the little search box, type in the name of what they're looking for, and search?
If it's something they want to go back to, they'll bookmark it. But they won't remember what the URL is. For the simple reason that they don't need to. The Bingoogle fraternity does it for them.
Indeed, in Japan, a country so often so clever about these things, the trend in advertising is not for companies to slap their URLs three feet high in the bottom right of the ad--it's to have search boxes with suggested search terms.
Every time I see a URL in an ad that tell you to go to COMPANY NAME/special offer or some such, I wonder if there's anyone who would ever do such a thing.
Perhaps there are those generic words that people absent-mindedly type, perhaps just out of boredom. I don't know, URLs like kitchen.com. Or music.com. But could this still be a significant number?
How many people really do bother to type URLs these days?