Baby.com: Time to Grow Up

U.S. companies have been dumping the “.com” from their names since the suffix became a liability rather than an asset.

Remember the good old days (not so long ago!) when everything was “.com”?

  • The advertising during last year’s Super Bowl didn’t include a single promotion without a URL.

  • There was a time when if you didn’t have a “.com inc.” somewhere in your advertising copy, your company would have been perceived as out-of-date, behind the times, not with it.
  • And, of course, every company with a purely dot-com background added the “.com” suffix to its name to make sure it was gaining maximum leverage from its attractive heritage.

I’m not proposing that the “.com” suffix is dead. What I’m observing is that although once a seemingly necessary part of company nomenclature, it is far from being “in” today.

What’s in a Name?

Over the past months a number of dot-coms have started deleting the “.com” from their names. InfoSpace, Yahoo, and Excite have all, during the past half year, dropped the “.com” endings in favor of brick-and-mortar names.

So has this decision by various companies been purely coincidental, or has it been part of a larger strategy?

  • You might argue that by eliminating the “.com” ending from your company name, you avoid some of the bad will that’s currently being reflected in press commentary.

  • Perhaps discarding the “.com” allows your company to be taken more seriously.
  • You might also observe that the “.com” ending is now superfluous, since consumers take its presence for granted and are able to guess a company’s URL by following their assumptions.
  • Yet another possibility is that because the “.com” is perceived by many consumers and businesspeople as representing a business-to-consumer (B2C) priority, rather than a business-to-business (B2B) one, it confuses a potentially large target group.

The reality is that many companies are desperately trying to rid themselves of their pasts by deleting the “.com” from their names. But will that change anything?

Here’s another argument to consider, one I find more relevant for you to take into account when deciding whether to keep or drop your “.com” tag.

The “.com” in your name generally no longer adds any value to your company image. There’s nothing novel, special, extra, or especially desirable inherent in the term. Boasting “.com” is like advertising “color television” with a motel room or “stereo radio” with a car. In the first place most televisions are color, and all radios are in stereo; in the second place everybody already has one.

Time to Get Over It

So where does this leave us?

Well, it brings me back to an issue I discussed some articles ago. Having a “.com” or other URL is a must. Consumers are brainwashed with the “.com” ending. Actually, research by ACNielsen shows that more than 70 percent of users remember URLs whether the address suffix is “.com,” “.net,” or “.org.”

The trend is obvious. Sound-equipment manufacturers forgot all about the big deal of stereo some years ago. We’ve expected television to be the color variety for some time now. And the time has come for dot-com companies to forget about their “.com” infancy.

Goodbye, Baby.com. You’re welcome to enter the world of adult companies.

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