Acronym Domain Names Are a Bad Idea

Before you blow most of your start-up capital (or life’s savings) on a great 3 or 4 letter .com domain, consider the following:

  1. Acronyms can stand for A LOT of different things.
  2. Are you sure there aren’t real word domains that would be a better fit for your business?
  3. 3 and 4 letter .coms are pretty much all claimed, which means if you want one, you’re going to have to buy it from someone else, and it is NOT going to be cheap.,, and are nice, short domains, but what do they stand for? Have you ever heard of any of these sites before? What do they sell? The domain name sure doesn’t provide any clues…

Back when I had my ISP, we were (Metropolitan Data Networks)… but you would only know that if you lived in the same town we operated in because we advertised all over the place. On the web, we were frequently mistaken for the Midland Daily News, Media Daily News, and several other businesses with the same initials.

A competitor of ours used, and unless you knew it stood for Dave’s Computer World Inc., it was a meaningless set of letters.

CIOE was another competitor… can you guess what CIOE stood for? Of course not. “Commercial Order and Information Exchange”. Um. Yeah. That’s easy to remember and has tons of meaning. Could you even tell from those domains (and the companies they represented) that they were all ISPs?

MSN and AOL are obvious exceptions to the “letters mean nothing/anything rule” because both of them are friggin’ huge corporations with the marketing budgets and the influence to keep hammering it into us that M-S-N means Microsoft and A-O-L means America Online.

You CAN overcome the disadvantages of acronym domains through smart marketing, but if you’re not made of money, why start off with a hurdle to overcome? Smart marketing is even more effective when you’re advertising a domain that does a little of the marketing for you passively.

Acronyms are fine if you’re a huge business with an equally huge advertising budget, but don’t waste your money on a 3 or 4 letter .com if you don’t have the marketing savvy and bucks to promote the hell out of it and make those letters MEAN your business.