I spotted a company van driving around town the other day. It was a van all decked out in slick graphics to advertise the business. It was impressive and eye-catching. Somebody obviously invested in great design work to promote their services. While stopped at a red light,  my eyes travelled along the side of the van. All of a sudden the perception of branding savvy instantly came to a deadening thud.

There it was in big graphic lettering. An email address that went something like this (I’ve changed the actual email address soas not to blatantly promote the company’s services): thebestairconditioningandductcleaning@hotmail.com.

For starters, it’s an awful email address. Way too long. But the real deal killer is the hotmail.com. I lump gmail and yahoo addresses into the same pile too. These email address accounts create an impression of cheapness. There’s no professional branding or value associated with a hotmail account ~ unless you have shares in hotmail. And worse, it shows that your company is so stingy and tech unsavvy that it has to use a free email account. If you go the cheap route for your online communications with customers, will your workmanship be just as cheap? It might be. Or, at least, that’s a possible perception.

Today, almost all reputable businesses big or small invest in their own domain name and accompanying email accounts (ie. ACMEPlumbing.com and email address service@acmeplumbing.com).  The cost of buying your own domain name can be ridiculously inexpensive ($10 or less per year in some cases) and most ISPs include a limited number of email accounts associated with the domain name.

A solid, professional email account is a must-have in today’s hyper-tech era of online communications. Sorry, but going with hotmail simply isn’t cool. If you expect customers to invest in you, you should invest in a professional email address.