We call exact-word web identities that have no added references pure names, because they are simply that; pure… In other words, they have no meaningless additives appended to them, such as .com, .org, etc…
Pure names are most often used as business identities, but they also have some fascinating personal uses. These domains are also referred to as branded identities, alternative or exact names, and the reason they are so special is easy to understand:
They are the shortest, most potent identities in existence…
Think about it. If you are a business’ customer would you be more influenced by seeing them use an exact.name, that perfectly describes their identity, or a name that has unrelated (and frankly meaningless) references added to the end of it – such as .com, .biz, etc…
Or, perhaps you’re in to personal branding or high-end typographic art. Would you want to own the exact word you’re looking for or is a jumble of letters good enough for you?
Before you consider your answer, let’s take a look at a few examples from the business side of things. Each of the following 3 examples shows a different type of pure name:
(1) creato.rs or creators.com
Well, which domain do you prefer?
One says the word “creators”, the other “creators com”. From a marketing, branding, and creativity standpoint the answer is clear… Exact, or pure, domains are simply better than those with extra references added to them. And not just better but you’re also seen to “own” the word or phrase they represent.
More authoritative, more visual, more everything!
Let’s now take a look at another example. This time we’ll be looking at a type of pure name that offers an additional level of branding:
(2) monument.al or monumental.com
Again, which do you prefer?
In the above pure name, you may notice there is a sub-set word in addition to the expanded word. Of course, “monument” is directly related to the word “monumental”, and both words are perfectly expressed within the domain, separated only by the (necessary) dot.
This is nothing short of marketing gold, as to the site visitor it looks like the identity is entirely custom-created. It almost seems as though you are re-writing the rules of the Internet to create your own customized brand name.
This is powerful…
In our final pure name example, we won’t be making any comparison with “.com”. We only did that in the first two examples to help show pure identities along-side their main alternative; gTLD’s.
There’s no doubt that .com is a very popular TLD, but surely no one could seriously suggest that appending the abbreviation for the word “commercial” (.com) on to the end of your business name has anything to do with credibility…
Let’s now take a look at the final example:
This domain conveys a recognizable phrase, which is separated by the dot. This type of identity often incorporates a short, popular, phrase and they are at their most potent when used as site identities and marketing slogans. Pure names, like this, we refer to as separate-word identities as there are two wholly separate words (that make sense together) contained in the domain.
It’s little surprise that many of the biggest companies on the Internet own these kinds of authority domains. With huge marketing budgets, and such varied skill-sets at their disposal you can be sure they fully understand the value of these identities.
They know that a pure name isn’t just a domain name. It’s a highly-effective business builder that can supercharge their marketing machine… and work for them for free… around the clock… f o r e v e r.
Consider for a moment, when did you last see a domain name that incorporated just a single word, or a phrase, and nothing else?.. The benefit of being seen to own a particular word on the web, via your domain name, is very great indeed.
In fact, every time a pure name is broadcasted, particularly via an ad, an important event happens in the minds of customers:
Attraction through authority.
This is a long-lasting benefit, as customers will see your identity and instantly recognize you as the authority in your industry. After all, you are seen to own an impactful word that directly (and obviously) relates to your industry, and it’s incorporated right in to your domain!
While other companies are scratching around with their .com you’re playing a very different kind of game, that makes advertising, marketing, and everything else so much better.
All of the domain examples given above are ccTLD-based names, but a similar visual effect (to accused.me) can also be achieved with ngTLD domains. A different set of rules apply to these identities, but whether ccTLD or ngTLD, they are all pure/exact names provided they spell out the word or phrase exactly – and have no extra bits at the end of them.
There is another type of ‘exact’ name, however… It’s certainly a late-comer to this namespace, but it probably deserves a special mention because of its wide implications for business and Internet branding…
Since 2012, companies have been able to apply for their own TLD, i.e. .anything. Applying for your own extension (that can be any reference or word that you desire) is subject to strict ICANN rules.
Applicants should budget around US$250,000-$300,000 for their TLD application, and along with the cost and the many legal conditions you should know you can only ever use them for sub-domains, e.g. anyterm.anything. In spite of these difficulties, however, many hundreds of .anything TLDs have now been registered by companies and organizations worldwide.
A few of the registered domains you might recognize are; .netflix, .honda, .microsoft and .hsbc. Of course, any word + .anything generates an ‘exact’ name (however good or bad the expression may be) and create.hsbc is an example of this and how development is taking place.
What does .anything mean for the web?
Hundreds of household-name global businesses are now committing billions of dollars, collectively, to the promotion of these identities. This will surely help to result in two things occurring:
1. The dominance of .com will, over time, simply evaporate and companies will probably question why they now need one, and 2. Exact names, of all types, will receive a massive boost in awareness.
Everything is about the dot…
…or its enlarged version, the circle. The planets and stars are all circular. The circle is, by far, the most alluring symbol, which is why dots and circles are so commonly found in corporate logo’s and other branding.
The common expressions Circle of Life and Connecting the Dots… Even when reading ancient Latin you can be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at ‘exact’ domains – on every page. The reason is the Romans often made use of the Interpunct  to punctuate their words (the inscription on The Pantheon, in Rome, is a good example of this).
And modern-day brands frequently use the Interpunct in their word-based designs. Some have even undertaken marketing campaigns using it, and their copy *unwittingly* displayed ‘exact’ domains owned by other people!..
The brands thought they were just making creative copy, and they were unaware their core designs featured ‘exact’ names registered by others.
When the most creative brands in the world are making mistakes like that, where their fantasy creatives are someone else’s reality now, then you know that ‘exact’ domains are the future of naming. And, of course, to be an owner of an exact identity, that only has a dot by its side (figuratively and literally) is something very special indeed…
As you might imagine, large businesses such as Orange, Google, Facebook and Youtube, were not slow to jump aboard the pure bandwagon and get their own exact branded domain (ccTLD examples given here, but many also have their .anything!).
To illustrate this further, the influential site, Moz.com, publish a Top 500 listing of the most popular websites on the Internet. Here are a few examples from the list (*) that are pure names:
#13 Youtu.be, #102 Telegram.me, #177 Google.it, #259 Telegra.ph (correct as of Jan ’24)
These successful companies all understand the power of exact identities, and that these business domains can never be replicated or emulated.
For us, though, the real badge-of-honour here lies not in the fact that so many large businesses are using pure names, but that there are now vast numbers of small businesses who are founding their new enterprises on these identities.
Small businesses are acutely aware of the fact that they can’t afford to make any mistakes, and they appreciate that one of the greatest business decisions they will ever make is deciding on their business name. So they know they have to make the right choice there.
Consider too, there is an entire ‘industry’ of so-called domain investors out there trying to promote the supposed merits of “.com”. The fact, then, that these businesses have made their decision to go with an exact word name in spite of the never-ending promotion of .com makes the case for a pure name even more compelling.
Overpriced and ridiculously-hyped “.com” just doesn’t cut it any longer (not that it ever really did!) and businesses are increasingly becoming aware of that. In fact, given that .com has no real branding or marketing value, more and more savvy business owners are now making the decision to avoid the extension altogether.
Businesses are moving away from .com, and going pure…
No discussion about who’s gone “pure”, though, would be complete without referring (albeit briefly) to domain name history and, in turn, the sales side of things:
The first domain ever to be registered was Nordu.net, an exact word identity for the Swedish-operated NORDUnet organization. This domain was registered on 01/01/1985. The .net extension (which is a gTLD), was used in this instance to frame the organization name “NORDUnet”. Typically, however, an exact or pure name, like this, would have a ccTLD on the right-side of the dot.
Interestingly, the three main gTLD’s, .com, .net, and .org, all have possibilities for pure names, the most obvious examples being Tele.com, Inter.net and Cyb.org.
It’s almost as though these gTLD’s know they’re the antithesis of such identities, however, as the above three examples are practically the only examples of exact names in each of the TLD’s!
Regarding pure name sales, there are a few sites that publish this information. Namebio are perhaps the most well-known publisher of domain sale data, though their listings certainly do not record all sales that take place. If you visit their Top 10 listing you will see some of the sales that have taken place at the higher end of the market.
…and it’s not just businesses!
As you may expect with something as breathtakingly visual as pure names, there is some cross-over in to the areas of personal identity and luxury art…
In fact, we have seen quite a few examples now where individuals have bought an exact word domain that reflects their favourite word, their first name, last name, and so on.
They are not using the domains for any commercial activity, though, and it’s clear that they just want the satisfaction of owning (and being seen to own) their chosen name on the web.
This kind of personal branding isn’t just confined to the Internet either… It goes on a lot off-line too, with things like home names, vanity phone numbers, boat naming, and so on.
Outside of pure names, though, there is always the notion of similar…
For example, let’s say you own the car plate: JOHN123, and someone else comes along with JOHN1234. Is one plate better than the other? Yes… Is there much difference between them? No, not really… And, ask yourself, what will happen when you find out that someone has JOHN1 (?!).
This isn’t the case with pure identities, however, as you either own the exact (correct) name or you don’t. It’s as simple as that.
We also know of several far-sighted homeowners who’ve bought their chosen pure name and created a bespoke artwork based on it. This isn’t just art for arts’ sake, of course, it’s something that has considerable additional potential, e.g. the ability to make immediate contact with online art lovers who may be viewing the installation in real-time through the domain and artwork webcams, etc…
The possibilities for typographic art, like this, are huge. After all, who wouldn’t want a luxurious word-based artwork in their home or office… An artwork that exactly reflects a real destination on the Internet… Where the ‘destination’ (the URL) implies you actually ‘own’ that word or phrase on the web. Pure names, then, offer real and significant opportunities for personal and business use.
(*) Top 500 websites, Moz.com. January 2024
We’re branding specialists with two decades of experience in marketing innovation.
Over the years we have invested in (and developed) web identities in over 50 ccTLD’s. With the intimate knowledge we have of pure names, along with the extensive marketing expertise we have picked up along the way, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the market.
We are not identity brokers, however, and the Purena.me site exists simply to put the spotlight on exact domains and explain some of their benefits.
This site is only an introduction to the subject, then, and it is not intended to be comprehensive in any way. It should also be understood, from an aesthetic and jurisdictional standpoint, that not all domain names are created equally.
Consequently, there are many potential pitfalls for the unenlightened buyer, and of course many great opportunities too. You might even say there are many jewe.ls out there!