I rolled my eyes. I immediately knew they were doomed to failure unless they changed their name.
I asked: “Is there any way you can find a shorter url?”
My prospective client hemmed and hawed about how attached he was to his ridiculously long company name.
There’s a reason why Google and Yahoo succeeded — and a host of other earlier search engine contenders like NorthernLights and AltaVista bombed.
There’s a reason why YouTube won the video wars and early contenders like, “uh, um, uh, whats their name, I forgot” failed.
Because YouTube is a freakin’ awesome brand. It says what it does. It has attitude. It’s memorable. You can spell it. It rhymes with things. It’s unique. It works in other languages and other cultures.
When I named my business, I spent an entire rainy day on Go Daddy typing things in at random until I found “Visibility Shift.”
Even though it’s not short, it’s memorable, it says exactly what it is.
And it’s relevant to my consulting practice, which is about shifting your visibility to a new level. I was absolutely floored when I discovered such a great website name was even available — and for $7.99.
- It’s easier to type a short, memorable name – a long or unmemorable or hard to spell url just discourages people
- It’s memorable – (One word is best. Two words are ok. Three is just too much. Say it out loud. Can you pronounce it?)
- Searchability (SEO) – A name that isn’t unique is going to bring up millions of search results in Google. You want a unique URL so you are the first and only hit in Google, without having to pay $$$$ to Google for adwords.
- International localization – remember the web is global and your name has to translate easily into other languages — so it’s better if it’s not a word in any language. Run your name past some friends who speak other languages and some translation software and make sure it doesn’t translate into something embarrassing. (The Chevy Nova flopped in Mexico because “No Va” means “Won’t Run.”) Say it out loud again. Does it sound like something obscene in Chinese?
- Put less words on your site, more pictures. Especially remember that the web is international and words need to be translated. So the fewer words, the more universal your message is. Learn from the success of big brands like Apple and Google who take a less is more approach.
- It doesn’t have to be a .com — You can be successful with a .us, .tv, etc. For example, Delicio.us. And that’s even shorter.
- Groupon is successful in large part because their name rocks. “Group + coupon.” Brilliant. Memorable. Unique. Short. Tells you what it is.
- Get your name first before you spend time and money branding it. Changing your name later is very costly and it means you are undoing all the work you did on public relations, marketing and social media outreach. (Did you know that AirBnB was originally called “Airbed and Breakfast”? Seriously! The airbed rental idea flopped so they shortened it.)
- VCs look at your brand and name as a big reason to invest. A great logo, web design, business card, brand and name are almost as important as the product or technology behind the brand.
- Think about web branding when you name your products — and your kids, too. I’m grateful that my mother, very ahead of her time, gave me a name that is so unique that I go to the top of Google. Check that name out in Facebook, Twitter and Google and make sure it’s available. (The reverse applies if you want to protect your privacy — then John Doe is the way to go.) Consider adding a unique middle name to your name that describes what you do so you stand out. (ie: David “Avocado” Wolfe is a speaker in the health food field.)