In this article, I will walk you through several strategies you can use to find a brand-worthy, memorable and unique name for your website.
Name is all you have in the Internet world – so choose wisely.
The name of your website is the most valuable asset in the internet world. Please make no mistake about it. Unlike physical brands, your name stands alone on the Internet. It is one of the significant differences between the Internet brand and the Physical brand.
There are many clues to the company’s purpose in the physical world: location, window displays, even the size and architecture of the building. For example, a hotel looks like a hotel, a bank looks like a bank, and a restaurant looks like a restaurant.
On the Internet, however, the name stands alone. So until you get to the website, you won’t find any clues to what the site does.
A mediocre name can sometimes work in the physical world because the physical clues establish the company’s identity so that a consumer doesn’t even notice the name. For example, the customer remembers that a car repair shop is situated next to the Reliance Mart. But she doesn’t remember the name of the shop.
In the internet world, there are no clues. There are no books on the window that tells you that Amazon.com is a bookstore. No travel posters to say to you Ixigo is selling airlines tickets.
It is one of the reasons why mank internet companies got trapped in the generic trap. The lure to generic is so powerful that some companies have paid enormous sums for generic names.
Wine.com sold for $3 Million
Internet.com sold for $18 Million
Privatejet.com sold for $30 Million
Vacationrentals.com sold for $35 Million
and Cars.com sold for $872 Million
And so on. Are any of them are internet brands? The answer is NO.
When it comes to building a brand online – Proper names always wins.
The data shows the early winners on the Internet; AOL.com, Yahoo.com, Google.com, Amazon.com, Ebay.com and so on are all proper names.
And recently, most of the digitally native direct to consumer brands have proper names rather than generic ones.
Away, a travel brand is valued at $1.4 billion + not travel.com
AirBnB is valued at $75 billion, not vacationrentals.com
When you choose a brand name for your website, the first thing to ask yourself is the generic name for the category is? Then that’s the name you don’t want to use for your site.
So how “proper” should your website name be? It depends. First, and most foremost, you want your website name to be perceived as a proper name; then hopefully, you would like your name to be more “proper” than competitors. At the same time, you should also consider other factors. But before we go there, let’s clear a big myth.
Myth: Common name helps build search engine ranking.
As we make a case for proper names, many of you must be thinking; but common names elevates our SEO and gives us a higher position in search results.
Yes, that was true in the ancient Internet. Now it’s just a myth.
When a search engine such as Google started, they didn’t have the technology to understand the content of the web. Hence they give importance to the use of keywords in the website/domain names. However, now Google is powered by Artificial Intelligence, which allows it to evaluate the complete content and context of the site. So it no more relies on the keywords. It has evolved to become a semantic search engine.
Here is what Google has to say about this :
“Google’s John Mueller advises SEOs and site owners there’s no ranking benefit associated with having keywords in a domain name.”
Having got this myth cleared, let’s move on to other factors.
The website name should be short.
In general shorter the name, the better. Shorter names are even more important for an Internet brand compared with physical brands.
In the case of Internet brands, you need to type in the website name in the browser. That’s why the site name should be both short and easy to spell.
Let’s start with some bad examples of website names. They are long, hard to spell and hard to remember.
A long website name can also limit your potential growth since you never know how big your company can be or what other services or products you will be selling in the future.
If you want to build a strong brand with a national or global reach, you should focus on finding a short, brandable name.
One way to arrive at a shorter and unique website/domain name is by starting with a generic name of the category and then shortening it. With this trick, you can create a proper name that’s also short and easy to spell. CNET.com is one such example where the generic term is ” computer network “
Misspelling the name and address on your physical address can still work, and postal services can still deliver your mail. However, in the internet world, you can’t drop one of the periods or hyphens. Hence, short names works.
How about these names:
Walgreens Boots Alliance
DuPont de Nemours
Procter & Gamble
Archer Daniels Midland
Goldman Sachs Group
United Continental Holdings
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
Publix Super Markets
These are big companies ranked by Fortune magazine. These companies, however, will find difficulty in transferring their names to the Internet. The Internet has forced many companies to take another look at their names. This is even true for companies for which the Internet is a medium and not a business.
So, for example, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance on the Internet becomes massmutual.com.
The website name should be simple.
Simple is not the same as short. Simplicity has to do with the alphabetical construction of the website name. A simple word uses only a few letters of the alphabet and arranges them in the combinations that repeat themselves.
For example, Coca-cola is both a short and simple name. Although the name has eight letters, it is formed by using only four letters of the alphabet.
Mississippi is a long name consisting of eleven letters; it is also a simple name because it uses only four letters, which is why most people can spell it.
The website name should be unique.
Uniqueness is the key characteristic that makes a website name memorable. But, of course, it is also true for any brand name.
By definition, a common name or generic name is not unique. It does not refer to a specific person, place or thing as a proper name does. Therefore, a common name used as a website name for a generic category is not memorable.
Of course, no name is unique unless created from scratch, such as Toyota, Kodak, Xerox, etc.
The website name should be pronounceable.
Word of mouth is the most effective medium in your marketing arsenal. Most people buy products or services because they hear about these things from friends, neighbours or relatives.
You can build an effective word of mouth only when your website name is easy to speak. Unfortunately, too many companies use unspeakable website names. And many others are common names that discourage word-of-mouth usage. Consider this conversation.
“where did you buy your new phone?”
“It was onsale”
“I know you got a good deal, but where ?”
Onsale.com looks like a good name, but it creates confusion because it’s not a proper name. Amazon, Flipkart or Myntra is better.
The website should be easy to remember.
Why do people find it easier to remember their phone numbers than their license plate numbers, even though they are both about the same length? Because license plates use both numbers and letters, which makes them much more challenging to recall.
Quite a few Internet brands make this mistake: 123tel.com, 123regi.co.uk,Net2phonedirect.com,Click2buy.com etc.
One of the reasons many start-ups and companies select unspeakable website names is the wrong process they use to choose their names.
Most website names are selected visually, usually from a list of names printed on the screen or paper.
But, that’s not how a consumer or prospect deals with website names. They usually hear them verbally from friends, neighbours, relatives or co-workers. Even the media exposure of brand name is heavily weighted to verbal rather than visual.
Also, the website name needs to sound like a proper name or a word that conjures up a particular website, not just a generic category.
In the case of a physical product or store, you don’t need to remember exactly how to spell the name to find a store. Is it Abrecadhabra or Abreckadabras . It doesn’t matter in the case of retail stores or mail. But it does matter on the web.
The website name should be rhyming.
Jack & Jill
Johnson & Johnson
Why do children move their lips when they read? They convert the visual symbols represented by letters and words into sounds that brains can quickly process.
Our mind is designed to work with sounds of words, not with visuals and symbols.
When we grow up, we learn not to move our lips while reading. But this doesn’t change the way our mind works. Instead, it works with the sound of words.
If you want people to remember something – choose rhyming names.
The website name should be shocking.
An element of shock makes a name more memorable because it puts the power of emotion to work. To a certain extent, you remember events in your life based on the degree of emotional involvement.
You may have taken dozens of vacations in your lifetime, most of which remain in your mind as fuzzy memories. The holidays you will never forget, however, are the ones that contain solid emotional elements.
You will see the pattern on the Internet. Familiar names such as jewellary.com or furniture.com are bland and carry no shock or emotional involvement. They are hard to remember.
The names that have a bit or bite of them will be a better name on the Internet. Names like: MailChimp, PepperFry, Zomato, Yahoo, FCUK stir up some emotional responses.
The website name should suggest a category.
Here’s the paradox. To become a big brand on the Internet, you need a proper name. But, on the other hand, the name should suggest the category without falling into the generic name trap.
It is not an easy feat to achieve. However, shortening the generic name is one way to accomplish this — for example, CNET, Yahoo etc.
Another approach is to add off wall words to the name of the category—for example, ToysRu, PlanetRx etc.
The website name should be personalized.
Last but not least. When possible, you should try to consider naming your website after an individual.
It has several advantages. First of all, it assures that your website has a proper name. Second, it enhances the publicity potential of your website.
Many real-world brands have evolved from individuals. Ford, Tata, Birla, Dell, Chevrolet, Calvin Klein, Boeing, Bloomberg and Gillette, to name a few.
Initially, Dell computers sold its products under the PC Limited brand name. But ultimately, the company realized that the proper name ( Dell ) was much stronger than the generic – PC Limited.
You enhance the publicity potential when you use the founder’s name as the brand name. Brands are cold, silent and lifeless. Only a person can articulate the brands’ positioning. And media wants to interview the CEO, not the brand manager.
Byju’s is the latest following this strategy.
In Summary :
All branding starts with the name of your website. So if you pick a name that matches most of these naming strategies, you will be on your way to a successful brand. However, I understand every Internet brand cannot accomplice all the naming strategies mentioned above. But one should try and use as many of them as possible.
To make things simple, we have an algorithm that can help you find a good domain name. Do check them out :
Generate unique brand names:
Generates easy to spell, pronounce and memorize – domain/website names: