When it comes time to choosing a name and matching domain name for your startup or new product, the following domain pricing guidelines I have developed based on the class of the name will help you stay within budget, whatever that budget might be. I believe that if you have a pricing framework in mind early on in the name development process it will save you time and headaches (and money) later on.
One-word .com Domain Names: If you're hoping to call your new venture "Robot" or "Pink" or "Banana" then the most ideal domain name is going to be the matching .com. If you are not able to acquire the matching .com domain, and choose an alternative domain name, you will eventually come to regret that decision and it will be costly or impossible to correct your mistake. The two big challenges you will face here are availability and price. These are the most valuable and sought after domain names, so the matching .com domain may not be available at any price (current owner has no interest in selling) and if it is available it will not be cheap. Expect to invest $50,000 to $150,000 to acquire a one-word .com domain, and that number could be way higher (10 times higher) if it is a common business word. Set aside a budget of $100,000 and be open to new names and new naming directions if you can't get the one-word .com domain name you desire.
Two-word .com Domain Names: If you want to go with a name that combines two English language words in a creative fashion -- such as "Pink Robot" or "Robot Banana" -- then you will open yourself up to a much larger inventory choice and the price will be way lower. This is especially true if you are willing to consider all names that feature a specific word, e.g., any name that starts with "pink" or ends with "robot." Chances are you should be able to acquire a two-word .com domain name that fits your brand strategy for less than $5,000. When I have helped clients with this, I've sometimes been able to find them their domain for the cost of registration. Regardless, compared to one-word .com domain names, two-word .com domain names are way more affordable. Set aside aside a budget of up to $10,000 for this class of name as long as the two words are not a common business phrase: FixCars.com is going to cost you way more than FixBanana.com.
Whimsical / Invented .com Domain Names: These are completely made-up names that you will never find in a dictionary, names like "Pinkero" and "Botopia." These are a great class of names in general because they are easier to trademark and easier to get ranked higher in search engines. From a domain name perspective, many times you will be able to acquire these for the cost of registration, however there's a lot of great whimsical inventory available in the market for under $5,000. Set aside a budget of up to $10,000 for this class of name.
Web 2.0 .com Domain Names: By "Web 2.0" I mean taking an English word and dropping a vowel or two from it. So, for example, instead of calling your startup "Banana" you want to use "Bnana" instead. This can seem appealing, at first, because chances are you can pick up the matching .com domain name for registration fee, however you will eventually come to regret your naming decision. Sooner or later you will realize that you are losing traffic, customers, and emails to the folks that own the correctly-spelled version of your name, and by then it may be too late or too costly to undo your mistake. I encourage my clients, and anyone else, to avoid Web 2.0 names like the plague.
Please keep in mind that these pricing guidelines are approximated. Every domain name is unique and pricing on some domain names can be all over the map. But, in general, these pricing guidelines will apply to most domain names in their class, and an experienced domain name broker will be able to get you the best possible selection and price.