The hot thing in internet news right now is the that folks behind Basecamp, the project management app, have released a new email app. Not just a new email app, but a fundamental rethink of how email works. I’m not going to go into the details of the services of a competitor here – you can learn all about Hey.com on their own website. 

What I want to write about is their domain – and why you shouldn’t be using it to do business online.  

The Hey.com marketing and pre-launch phase were all about how they spent a lot of money to acquire this choice three-letter domain name. And as a domain registrar ourselves, we are quite envious of how they managed to get such a great domain. It’s short and easy to remember and is really perfect for email. 

But you really should not be using it to do business online. 

When you work online as a business or organization, the most important thing is your brand. That’s why we’ve banged on for years that you should not be using someone else’s brand to do business. Using a Gmail or Outlook account to do business with customers is unprofessional. You’re essentially marketing Gmail or Outlook for free. 

Not only that, but it’s also tempting to sign up for these email hosting services because they’re free and take care of the whole email thing. But their ‘freeness’ hides the real cost. They control your data. They control your brand. And in the recent instance of Eircom deciding to charge for their formerly free email service, they can hold your email ransom.  

Now back to Hey.com, it’s more of a messaging platform than a traditional email client. And when you sign up, you get a shiny new @hey.com email address, which has now become one of the hottest tickets on the internet as people scramble to get invites. It’s the Gmail revolution all over again. They’re even for sale on eBay! Don’t buy them on eBay; they’re giving them away for free, you just have to be patient. The service itself costs $99 a year (more if you want a 2 or 3 letter email address).  

And that seems to be fine for what they’re offering (I haven’t gotten my invite yet, so I haven’t tested it myself). But think about this: you’d be paying them $99 a year to use THEIR branding, not your own. I’m seeing a flood of tweets from prominent business folks saying they’re signing up or that it’s changed their email for the better. But now they’re all using Hey.com email address, instead of their own personal or business brand.  

This is bad.  

Well, it’s good for Hey.com’s marketing, but not yours.

If you’re going to pay $99 a year, register your own domain name and get email hosting with Blacknight, which costs a lot less than that.  

Now Hey.com plans to eventually offer custom domains so that you don’t have to use theirs. And that’s grand (personally, I don’t think they should have launched without this feature). But now we’re all going to start getting email to and from people using Hey.com email addresses. This will be confusing to deal with online professionals who formerly had their own domains for email or were using other services. Using this service will probably violate many IT policies at corporations against using external email to represent your organization.  

Market yourself, not someone else. Market your business, not someone else’s.