Why is this happening? With over 252 Million registered domains, these peculiar names are becoming the norm in startup culture. Granted this is not a new trend, considering that two major competitors in the search engine market (Google and Yahoo) came to fruition as a result of creative etymology choices by their founders. Even one of the main domain registrars, Tucows, uses a playful name as part of its branding strategy.
Google: A play on the word Googol (An Unfathomably high number represented by a 1 followed by 100 zeroes)
Yahoo: An acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
There are many reasons for startup brand name peculiarity. Besides the aforementioned domain name competition that can result in expensive domain name registry (Investing.com sold at $2.5 Million), these new companies are having an even harder time avoiding trademark infringement. The main goal is to create something memorable, meaningful, and manageable; keeping names relatively short while still pronounceable. Take recent startup Zofari, a local discovery app that intends to be the “Pandora for Places.” It uses the perfect blend of meaning, recognizance, and cultural stability that brands need to live by nowadays.
Often too frugal to choose already registered domains, the search for the perfect name is becoming even more complex. Consider the story of Flickr. Considering the fact that the website Flicker.com was already taken, the company decided to drop the “e.” The shortening of names was a large trend in company choice in the early 2000s, followed by the now popular “ify” suffix.
Think of the Mid-20th Century, in which the increasing use of Yellow Pages and Touch-Tone phones, more and more companies take on A-Based Namesakes for local service. Even more novel, the Late 20th Century brought about the 7-letter company to fit the needs of the 1-800 number boom.
Now, in the era of “ify,” “ily,” word combinations, and made up words; brand naming and attribution has become more and more important. Branding strategy and consumer targeting will be part of your brand’s value proposition.
Other Startup Brand Naming Resources:
- The Next Web: “What’s in a startup’s name? Why the trend for misspelled words and -ly won’t go away”
- New-Startups Website: “How to Name Your Startup”
- Launch: How to Name Your Startup (And Land the Perfect Domain)