When was the last time you heard of a big brand with a silly domain name?
That’s right – never. This is mostly because big brands have initially invested surprising amounts of time and money into coming up with an excellent name and associated branding strategies.
With the help of professional company naming agencies, thousands of dollars ready for a premium domain name and long-term branding campaigns, almost anyone can build a recognizable brand name.
Unfortunately, most contemporary startups have budgets that are too tight for such strategies and need to be really smart about everything from choosing their name to marketing investments.
As Frank Rimalovski, executive director at NYU’s Entrepreneurial institute puts it:
“It’s one thing for Procter & Gamble or Coca-Cola to develop something out of a meaningless name because they can spend a lot of money on it. But for a real startup, that’s quite a challenge.”
This is why real startups often compromise on domain names, which brings some funny results.
A Brief List of Silicon Valley’s Silliest Startup Names
- LicketyShip – once a promising ecommerce delivery service, LicketyShip was closed after only two years back in 2008. Although it was their business model rather than their name that lead to failure, their name remains one of the silliest ones ever created in the Silicon Valley.
- Gravee – Totally opposite from whatever it was that crossed your mind, Gravee is a social search engine that has nothing to do with either funerals or restaurants whatsoever.
- Fwix –This used to be a local information company for media publishers whose name violated multiple rules of common sense. Can you guess what it stands for? Can you even guess how it’s supposed to be pronounced? I didn’t think so. Now Radius.com, the company seems to be making a great progress.
Unfortunately, there are other examples of silly company names, many of which seem to be a result of the shortage of .com domains, which forces company owners to be really creative about their names.
However, their attempts at creativity often fail, along with their branding efforts.
Of course, there are some companies with silly names that actually made it. Consider Joomla!, for example, still one of the leading CMS platforms used by millions of website owners worldwide.
The number of such companies may be limited, but they point to the need for discussing the best practices regarding the choice of a startup name despite the .com shortage problem.
8 Steps to Picking a Brandable Domain Name
1. Make It Simple
Even though most startups today believe their creativity should be demonstrated by their very names, simplicity rules the 21st century. This is why a company name should be short, catchy and memorable in order to make a great brand.
2. Make It Personal
Personalized names may establish a long-lasting connection between a brand and the community of users. Some great examples of this are Oscar and Clara, which took a different approach to choosing their domain names.
HiOscar.com and ClaraLabs.com have found a way to fight the .com shortage and get unique domains, potentially triggering a new trend in startup naming.
3. Make It Transparent
As pointed out by Rimalovski, if you have enough money to brand a silly name, you’re fine.However, if you wish to have a name that actually means something to your audience, you may as well consider making it transparent by adding a keyword or anything else related to the industry.
4. Choose a Domain Different Than Your Company Name
Again, Clara and Oscar above are perfect examples of this. Additionally, app developers can include the words such as “app” or “get” in their domain names to make it clear that their actual product can be obtained from app stores.
5. Look Beyond .com
Consider the possibilities with randabble domains such as .me, which has a transparent meaning in multiple languages and can be combined with a specific word or phrase in a natural way, unlike many other ccTLDs.
6. Set The Budget
Premium domain names may cost thousands of dollars and many investors suggest that startups should be ready to invest as much as it takes to obtain the right one. However, if you set the budget and brainstorm different options, you can get a great name for much smaller amounts of money.
7. Do a Research
Current naming trends and startup success stories could help you avoid pitfalls like those mentioned above. Domain name research, therefore, also includes comparing prices and finding the extensions that may work better for your brand.
8. Use Domain Name Generators
Once you’re happy with your domain name, you’ll find it much easier to develop creative branding strategies around it. This means that you won’t have to invest as much as Coca-Cola for example, in order to brand something silly and you’ll have a larger budget to dedicate to other mission-critical areas.
Although branding a company depends on too many elements, a catchy business name remains one of the most important growth factors. Like most other business development processes, this too requires research and planning in order to yield a great but affordable company name.