Silicon Valley’s Naming Problem and How to Fight it

July 20, 2015

6:00 pm

The global startup scene is more turbulent than ever and this makes it quite hard for new companies to build their reputation both online and offline. The former, of course, seems to be a tad more important given the potential of web marketing and online service delivery models most startups now experiment with.

In fact, for most modern startups, the web presence is everything. With minimum investment, they can reach worldwide consumers and build a global name. Provided that they choose a good one, of course.

Similarly, their URL can greatly determine the pace of their online expansion, which is why the purchase of a domain name should be a strategic investment.

2015 Startup naming trends

Considering the number and variety of startup companies that emerge every day, it is unsurprising that they keep establishing some interesting company naming trends. Some of these are partly related to the introduction of new TLDs whose number exceeds 600 as of May this year, while about 2000 are on the waiting list.

The regular introduction of new TLDs is important simply because of the fact that they enable startups to get unique and brandable names, even if their vanity .com domains are taken (which is now the case with most of them). A plethora of opportunities seems to arise with highly popular ccTLDs that many startups have used to build their online IDs. Their primary advantage is that they are typically cheaper than premium .com domains, which can cost thousands of dollars and are hardly affordable for most startup companies.

At the same time, however, this sea of choices also yields some silly trends that may make it difficult for a company to grow online.

Domain name pitfalls

Chris Johnson recently created a chart of coined startup names that use -ify suffix, highlighting how bizarre this trend has become. Apparently, too many companies thought this might be a good opportunity, probably leaded by the success of Storify and other similar –ify pioneers. However, for most of them, this did not turned out to be quite productive, as is also the case with companies that followed these 7 silly startup naming trends discussed by Eliana Dockterman.

Her article particularly focuses on the use of new TLDs in an unorthodox and rather funny way, which still seems to be a dominant trend. One of the examples is the overuse of “ly” not only as a domain extension, but also as a company name, which was successfully pioneered by Bit.ly. Unlike this one, all the other uses of this ccTLD “are just lazy,” as pointed out by Nancy Friedman, a naming consultant.

Personalization as a great practice

Evidently, some ccTLDs may appear suitable for a creative use, but many companies actually fail to make a recognizable brand name with them. Fortunately, however, the ecosystem seems to have shifted in a new direction, increasingly using human names to make their brands more personal. This is the case with Clara, for example, whose domain is ClaraLabs.com and Oscar with HiOscar.com, which are some of the best examples of coming up with a great domain name. Of course, choosing a .me domain is also becoming a frequent practice mainly because this domain is simple, transparent, and applicable to virtually all industries.

Although branding a company depends on too many elements, its 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.

What are some of the best and worst new startup names you’ve seen?

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Tech blogger and researcher fascinated with the way the business world changes in the digital age.

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