How Do Startups Get Their Name?
Why do startups choose made-up names and does domain availability have anything to do with it?
Every startup is looking for the next Google.com or the Facebook.com – both domains are words we had never used prior to brand launching, but now both of these words – ‘google’ and ‘facebook’ – have achieved verb stardom. This just means that the act of engaging with their websites is so common that their name is used as a verb to describe this activity.
The question is, how does a startup achieve Uber or Etsy success? Could it all be in the name? Clutch.co seems to think that it might…
Where do invented names come from and why?
A new study by Clutch, a B2B strategy company, seeks to find the answer to this very question. They took 700 companies from the 2015 Inc. 500 list and set out to discover exactly how and why their names were created. 350 of the companies were startups and the other 350 were established businesses which were at least three years old.
The study broke the names down into four separate categories:
These are the cut and dried names that explain exactly what the business does. For example, if you were looking for a descriptive name for your lemonade stand, it would be “Lemonade Stand” – nice and straightforward.
This category outlines exactly what you will feel or experience as you work with this company’s product or service. For example, the same lemonade stand with an experiential name would be “Quenched Lemonade” because once you drank the lemonade your thirst would be quenched. A little bit more of an exciting name system, but not too much.
An evocative name goes beyond traditional conventions to support larger metaphorical themes. Beyond just the product or service being offered, these names often rise to a lifestyle or historical context. For example, your lemonade stand could now be called “Juice of the Gods”.
This is the category we would find the Google and Etsy-like businesses, that is, completely invented names that are foreign to the site visitor. Sometimes the words represent a thought process, but often they are just created out of thin air.
After splitting the old and the new companies into categories, the results were quite astounding. Not surprisingly, very few businesses both old and new made use of the Evocative category. This is most likely because nobody likes a showoff, but I digress.
The Descriptive category was very successful, with the established businesses at 54% compared to only 16% of startups. The Experiential category was closely tied with 26% of startups and 21% of established businesses. However, 41% – the largest majority of startup companies – chose to use an inventive name for their new business, while only 17% of companies surveyed that are three years or older chose the same path.
These numbers show two major trends: established businesses decided on descriptive names – or at least the successful ones did – while startups are choosing to create inventive new words for their businesses.
Why are people choosing invented names for their startups?
The study suggests that the emphasis on creative or inventive names for startups is most likely due to the short supply of .com names available to register. With more than 120 million .com domains registered, there’s not a large number of existing dictionary words left to register.
Startups are deciding to pave their own way for an inexpensive .com, rather than struggle to create an brand out of a long or complicated .com. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all it did work out pretty well for the likes of Google. But there is a secret that many startups may not yet realize, which is the arrival of the gTLD.
Generic Top Level Domains, or gTLDs, are alternatives to .com and .net that could transform the way we name our startup businesses. With choices like .online, .website or .tech, companies no longer need to invent words to develop strong brand strategies. If you’re not quite sure what gTLDs are just read this blog post for everything you need to know.
While .com is still the king of domains, we predict that gTLDs are about to give the king a run for its money. After all, who wants to be LongStringOfLettersAndNumbers.com when they can be TheKing.tech?
To look for your perfect gTLD visit Midphase.com