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Kate Buckley's Defining Moment - How an Old Domain and a New Partner Are Helping Her Set a New Standard

By Ron Jackson

Kate Buckley has been lighting up domain sales charts with top tier transactions for over 25 years now. In 2018, we published an in depth Cover Story about the prolific domain broker and consultant that, even now, remains one of our most frequently visited articles. While we covered a lot of ground in that piece, going all the way back to the 9th generation Kentuckian's birth, everyone knew there would be much more to write about Kate in the years ahead. 

With the arrival of Defining.com, a full service domain brokerage and branding agency that she recently launched with new partner Todd Henderson, this was clearly the time to update the Kate chronicles. 

It turns out that the seed for Kate's new venture with Todd was actually planted the five years ago, even though she didn't know that at the time. "I acquired the Defining.com domain name back in late 2019 from our friend Josh Schoen," Kate began. "He had a very reasonable price expectation and I just liked the name. I wasn’t completely sure what I’d do with it, but my gut told me it would be ideal for business usage. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that it was the perfect  brand platform for the growth and evolution of Buckley Media. I love the purity of the name—and believe it encompasses our mission statement and values: Defining the new standard. Defining.com says it all: Defining business, Defining brands, Defining categories, and, of course…Defining dot com! Additionally, I like that we’re putting our money where our mouth is: rebranding our own business on a one word dictionary .COM." 

Todd Henderson & Kate Buckley at a fundraiser for
The Friendship Shelter  in Laguna Beach, California.

It also turns out, that the multi-talented Miss Buckley's connection with Todd goes even further back than her acquisition of Defining.com. "Todd and I originally met back in 2014 at a charity event in Laguna Beach, and then connected further over business (we didn’t start dating till 2018)," Kate recalled. "It was a “Paint and Sip Night” for a charity benefiting at-risk youth and I’d been tapped to emcee/instruct the event (as you know, I’m also a painter, poet & writer: KateBuckley.com). I struck up a conversation with Todd because his painting was by far the best in the room! Turns out he’d gotten a full ride to art school, and then was an animator at DreamWorks before embarking upon his branding career over 20 years ago. "

"On that note, Todd was co-founder and CEO of INK for 17 years—a full-service brand strategy firm specializing in helping large technology firms leverage their brand to elevate

company valuations. In one way or another, he’s been positioning and launching brands for the better part of three decades and intimately knows the impact a great brand can have on the growth trajectory of a company. So you can say that we’ve both been focused on strengthening corporate brands, just from different sides of the coin—his from positioning and storytelling and mine from the immense utility and impact of a premium domain."

As for how and when the decision was made to combine their strengths in one new business entity Kate said, "We’d been discussing the idea for years, given the logical need for a brand to be built around a newly acquired domain—and often times vice versa. In mid-2023 Todd was in the process of officially winding down his previous agency, INK, and all the puzzle pieces seemed to be coming together. In early January of this year (2024) we launched Defining.com—a merging of our respective companies, bringing top tier domain brokerage and corporate domain services + high-end brand and growth consulting together under one roof. "

"It helps that our skill sets are complimentary as well as overlapping in the best possible way. We both are highly driven Type As who never shy away from a challenge. Additionally, given our personal relationship, we respect one another’s strengths and appreciate the subtle nuance of being both life and business partners. That undercurrent of trust and respect is invaluable." 

When asked about the specific strengths each partner brings to the table, Kate added, "I’d say that mine is understanding the true potential value and utility of an ultra-premium domain name and how it fits into an overall brand and business strategy—and how to communicate that value to the end user (whether on the buy or sell side), as well as, of course the fine art of negotiation—which I’ve honed over the past two decades helping both buyers and sellers find win/win ground on every transaction."

"Todd’s obvious strength is his intimate knowledge of brand building and his unique perspective as a broker, entrepreneur and branding executive," Kate said, "Having spent the past 30+ years working with executives in leveraging brand assets to elevate company valuation, he intimately knows how to maximize the value of these assets. Our clients love how we understand their business and goals at their level, providing them with best-in-class brokerage services they trust. They expect results from a brokerage of our caliber, and we don’t disappoint!"

Above: Kate Buckley has been a featured speaker at major domain conferences throughout her career. This shot is from a speech at NamesCon Global 2019

Below: Todd Henderson joined Kate on stage for the first time at last year's NamesCon Global conference in Austin where they spoke about Domain-First Branding: The Key to a Winning Corporate Branding Strategy. They will be back for an encore at the upcoming 2024 edition of NamesCon Global conference when their June 7 session will focus on Demystifying Domain Valuation: See Through the Eyes of the Buyer.

Defining.com has gotten off to a fast start. As we reported just this week, they closed a $302,760 sale of Pose.com with a promise that many more are coming. Kate said, "We launched Defining.com to continue and expand upon Buckley Media’s mission of providing best-in-class domain brokerage services (sales & acquisitions): highly curated and high touch, with an ethical, experienced and professional approach. I originally launched Buckley Media back in 2013 because I saw a need in the marketplace for just this sort of brokerage—I purposely didn’t follow anyone’s playbook; I wanted to write my own and create a sort of Sotheby’s of domain brokerage, if you will. We take on very few domain names and are known for getting our clients top dollar."

"Defining.com expands upon this," Kate added. "We’ve brought Todd’s impressive track record and 30 years of top tier brand strategy and activation in house, along with a full suite of Corporate Domain Services. Defining.com provides two distinct areas of expertise for businesses—expanding on those two sides of the coin: From name and brand ideation, domain acquisition, to launch and brand building thereafter. Then you’ve got side two: brand and portfolio management, including a full suite of Corporate Domain Services (on that note, check out the article we recently published over at Forbes Business Councils)."

Image from Bigstock

On another topic, we were curious about the level of "domain value awareness" Kate sees in corporate clients who come to her. Do they understand the importance of getting the right domain name for their enterprises? Are they often surprised to learn how valuable those assets can be? Kate said, "It definitely depends on the client! Some clients are extremely savvy; others are quite unfamiliar with domain names and view it as a “black box” industry. And yes, clients who are first time domain buyers are definitely surprised by how valuable domain assets can be. We’re happy to work with clients at any knowledge level—or wherever they are in the lifecycle of their business. We excel at obtaining the right domain at the right price for our valued clientele using our proprietary “Domain First” methodology, which enables us to shorten the runway of the traditional naming exercise from months to weeks. "

For those who are surprised or even shocked to learn what it would take to get what might be the perfect domain for them, how does she bring their expectations and the reality of the market for top tier domains into a balance the client will understand and accept? "In all cases, we work to 

showcase the immense utility and value of ultra-premium domain names, reviewing metrics and sharing relevant case studies and data points," Kate said.  "We also work with them to better understand how the domain in question will fit into their existing brand architecture and marketing blueprint, as well as add to their overarching brand development and integrity. Our holistic understanding of how domains fit into branding (and brand protection!) proves incredibly helpful in moving the conversation forward. "

A sure sign that Defining.com is quickly gaining traction is the quality of domains they have been chosen to represent. Kate noted, "We’ve got a great crop of names right now under exclusive brokerage that we’re incredibly excited to be overseeing: Searchlight.com, Shelter.com, Bar.com, Patriot.com, Staff.com, Will.com, Den.com, Friday.com, and Brigade.com just to name a few. You can see an overview at: Defining.com/domains."

In closing, Kate added, "We are passionate about not only our business, but helping our clients build theirs through our domains, products and services. We also care about supporting our communities. We’re not only brand and business builders, but community builders. We believe that every person matters. We believe that anyone can make a difference, at any time. In addition to team members’ philanthropic involvement in a personal capacity, I ensure that Defining.com provides pro bono work for worthy causes and donates a considerable portion of the proceeds of each domain sale to worthy charities such as Feeding America and Promises2Kids.  When Todd and I aren’t working on domains or brands, you can usually find us volunteering for Promises2Kids, working in our garden (we’re growing all manner of fruit, flowers and vegetables on our half acre here in Solana Beach), playing with our pups (Murphy and Lila, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels), riding bikes, hiking, or throwing dinner parties."

Kate & Todd's pups, Murphy and Lila, have first dibs on the couple's free time.

One last note for those who will be at  NamesCon Global June 5-8. In addition to Kate & Todd's session noted above, Kate will take part in a panel discussion on Picking Winners: Everyday Strategies and Tactics for Domaining and the head of Defining.com's Corporate Domain Services division, Alison Simpson, will be moderating a panel on Corporate Domain Strategy: “Is Your Domain Name Strategy Costing You Business?” Alison has 20 years of experience helping brand owners secure and optimize their online presence, including a 15-year tenure at corporate registrar, MarkMonitor




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