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A choice of domain names is now, more than ever, a vital part of the branding process.

With more and more domains been snapped up by data-hungry users than ever before, the choice of domain is becoming more difficult and is a vital consideration for start-ups and established companies alike, who are looking for an effective online presence.

Despite these difficulties, some companies on occasion find cause the change domain name. Mashable describes possible reasons for doing so as being “rebranding, re-launching, brand confusion and vagueness”. Due to the problems associated with choosing a domain name mentioned above, it often becomes a costly exercise making the decision even more critical.

1. Ask.com
AskJeeves.com (founded in 1996) was the first search engine capable of responding to ‘questions’, as opposed to a just key words. It’s branding realised on an quintessentially British butler, aptly named ‘Jeeves’. However, in 2006 the online service decided to “retire” Jeeves and rename the site Ask.com. the purpose was supposedly to create a more focused search experience, although it was suggested that the brand had simply become outdated.

2. Facebook
As highlighted by the recent Hollywood picture ‘The Social Network’ portraying Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg’s life, Facebook was originally titled ‘thefacebook.com’ (Feb 2004). The name was inspired by a physical face book, a Harvard publication, which encouraged students to become better aquatinted. During a redesign of the site in 2005, Zuckerberg and the social media giant decided to simplify the brand by dropping “the” from the name; a costly exercise indeed as the new domain was reported to have cost $200,000.

3. Perez Hilton
Blogger come celebrity Perez Hilton registered his original domain ‘PageSixSixSix.com’ in 2004, marking the beginnings of his successful gossip blog. However, the New York Post’s Page Six gossip channel took legal action for trademark infringement and unfair competition. As one of the Worlds’ leading gossip blogs, he had a following dedicated enough to switch to ‘PerezHilton.com’, without suffering any ill-effect for the brand. PageSixSixSix.com now redirects to the New York Post.

4. PayPal
The online payment service PayPal began as a merger between Confinity, a company with a goal to enable money transfers, and X.com, a company that helped solve the commerce-related challenges faced by businesses in the late ’90s. After surveys found X.com vague and potentially pornographic, a necessary re-brand saw the company and domain emerge as ‘PayPal.com’.

5. Twitter
The name “Twttr.com” was originally inspired by SMS shortcode (which always includes five characters). Later in 2006, once the site has achieved relative success, the decision was made by the co-founders to add vowels back into the name. They purchased twitter.com for the not inconsiderable sum of $7,500 from an existing bird enthusiast website.