Since we first launched in Public Beta Mode, one of the most reoccurring comments we've received was about our name, DomainHole. Some people love it, some people hate it, and others just made fun of it. I briefly explained the name choice in my Domain Sherpa interview, but I wanted to elaborate here and explain why we chose to call our product DomainHole.
We built the first tool, the Expired Domain Search, a few years ago for internal use. We were a building a lot of affiliate websites, and we had to come up with keyword specific domains for each site we deployed. This task become very tedious, especially when we wanted short, brandable domains for each site. At the time, there was a few expired search tools like JustDropped.com or DeletedDomains.com, but we wanted to have more control in what search results were returned. So we built our own search tool. We hosted it on one of our internal development servers, and it worked great.
For any development that takes place at Timeless, we always use "Codenames" for the products until a final name is chosen, even for products that we don't plan to commercialize. So we wanted to find a name for the tool using the search tool itself. So every day, we would run an expired domain search for the keyword "domain" to see if anything good would appear. It turned out that the "domain" niche was a VERY saturated market, and not a whole lot of good results were coming back from the search. A few weeks in, and "domainhole.com" came back in our search. We didn't LOVE it but it was the first GOOD domain, so we went with it.
Over the next year, we started building other tools to help us find domains, like the Name Spinner, and the Name Generator. The tool set become an invaluable asset to us, and it become obvious that when packaged together, with some other tools we hade in mind, we'd have a pretty cool product that could really help a lot of people. So we made the decision to launch the tools as a single product.
One of the first steps was to choose an official product name. We started using the tools we had built to find a domain with the keyword "domain" in it. As I mentioned earlier, the "domain" niche is VERY crowded, and nothing AWESOME was available. It was really important to us to use a domain we found with one of our tools. As the weeks went by and nothing was coming back, we started tossing around the idea of just using the product's codename -- DomainHole. We had been using it internally for years, and we were really accustomed to it. So, in honor of our product's codename, we decided to officially use the name DomainHole.
We get criticized a lot for that decision. Elliot from elliotsblog.com says "I think the name Domain Hole is terrible branding." Respectfully, I disagree. Our mentor and hero, Jason Calacanis, explains:
Amazing names share the following basic qualities:
a) Short, less than eight characters
b) Easy to spell
c) Literal (i.e. diapers.com) or evocative (i.e. Yahoo.com & Google)
d) Memorable after one exposure (i.e. Go.com, CNN.com, Amazon.com)
Good names tend to be:
a) Longer than eight characters
b) Require a question when you say them over the phone: "oh, ingadget.com... it didn't come up... oh, it's Engadget.com with an 'e'
c) Sentences or phrases (i.e. ThisWeekIn.com, GetGlue.com, etc).
d) Hipster misspellings (i.e. Flickr.com, del.icio.us, tumblr.com, Bit.ly, etc)
e) Memorable after two or three exposures
Bad Names tend to be:
b) Require more than one explanation over the phone (i.e. "it's bestphones4u.com, with no spaces, no dashes, the number four and the letter u.")
c) Impossible to remember
d) So hard to remember that Google has a hard time finding them or correcting your spelling
So as far as I'm concerned, we hit all the important qualities of choosing a name. You'll never forget our name. It's unique, easy to say over the phone, and we're not confused with any other brand.
Love it or hate it, DomainHole is our name, and it's here to stay. Our goal is to become the first destination for anyone looking for help in finding a domain name. And we're not going to stop developing tools until we believe we solved the problem. As we prepare for our Public Launch, you're going to start to see us pop up a lot in the domaining scene, and I have no doubt that if you don't like the name -- it will grow on you. =)