A domain or a domain name is an alpha-numeric identity associated with an IP address. As the human brain can better remember words over a string of numbers, the purpose of having a domain name is to eliminate the need of having to memorize your IP address in order to access your website.
NOT a domain
Remember that the Internet is a system that connects computers worldwide. The domain is not the website address nor is it the URL. The domain is the computer where a particular website is made from. By having a domain name, you are actually making it easier for people to find your computer through the Internet to help them get to the data or website that they need.
To help you better understand, the example below illustrates the differences of a registered domain, a domain name, a URL and an IP Address:
Registered Domain: example.com
Domain Name: www.example.com
IP Address: 220.127.116.11
Registering a domain: What it really means
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the global administrative authority that is responsible for connecting people to the Internet.
The DNS is supposed to recognise all the domain names and connect each of them to their corresponding IP addresses once a user keys in a registered domain name, a domain name, or a URL.
When you register a domain, you are actually informing the DNS that a particular alpha-numeric combination is now associated with your IP address. Also, you are allowing the DNS to make the connection between the user’s computer and yours (or a network host), for the duration that the registration is in effect.
You are paying for Exclusive Rights, Not Ownership
By paying to register a domain, what you really own is the right of exclusive association between your chosen alpha-numeric string and your IP address for a predetermined amount of time.
Whether or not you wish to extend the duration is subject to your agreement with the domain registrar.
Branding with your domain
Today, integrated marketing and communication strategies are crafted around the need to maximize available technology to efficiently reach the correct target market.
If owning a domain is a major consideration in your strategy, it would be wise to check on the availability of your desired domain before investing huge amounts in the production of other marketing collaterals.
This way, if your desired domain is unavailable, you could still tweak the brand name to fit the available domain names.
It is also advisable to be aware of your competitors’ domain names or if they even already have one. There is a tendency for brands of the same category to have similar domain names. There is a huge chance that your market could type in a competitor’s domain name thinking it is yours. This could drive traffic to your competitor’s website and help it rank higher in search engines at your expense.
When it’s time to register your domain name, keep the name short, easy to spell, not too general a word but still something relevant to your brand.