That's the fascinating takeaway of a recent Knowledge@Wharton article delving into what experts have to say about finding a great name for your business in the digital era. Noting that "choosing the name of a company or product is becoming increasingly more critical," because "a company's name is usually also its web address," the piece explores the impact of all the new ways customers are connecting with companies.
1. Short domain names win.
These days your business name is also often your URL. For this reason, seriously consider keeping it short. Research from Karl Ulrich, vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation at Wharton, shows that "domain names of seven characters or less, excluding the dot.com or other suffix, tended to yield higher traffic. Visitors to a website would decrease by seven percent if the domain name was expanded to 10 characters."
Basically, that means your should expect "a two percent reduction in traffic for each additional character beyond the sweet spot of seven characters or less."
2. Catchy but opaque names have pros and cons.
The importance of domain names leads many companies to settle on something short and memorable, even if that means the name is a made-up word (think Spotify) or something thoroughly unrelated to the business (you can't tell just by looking that Amazon sells books rather than South American holidays). Going this route has advantages and disadvantages.
As stated above, a punchy URL can be incredibly valuable, but only if your customers already recognize your company, and getting to that stage can be expensive. "Like Uber and Amazon, companies like these have to spend a lot of money to let people know what they stand for," cautions marketing professor Leonard Lodish.
The best solution -- though often the most difficult one -- is to find a name that's both memorable and explanatory, like Diapers.com.
3. Spare a thought for Siri.
With the rise of voice-controlled digital assistants like Siri, having an easy to pronounce name is more important than ever. "It is becoming imperative that the name of a company sounds exactly how consumers would pronounce it," notes the article. "For example, people looking for the Mexican restaurant Garaje in San Francisco could mispronounce it and confuse the voice recognition software used to find the eatery."
4. Consider tiny screens
How easy is it for someone to recognize your company's name on a smartphone screen? Part of the answer comes down to design elements like font but partly this is also dependent on the name you choose and how it's spelled. "The trend in mobile is to look at the screen quickly and, so, you'll want [consumers] to be able to process things quickly. It's called perceptual fluency," notes Wharton marketing professor Barbara Kahn.
5. Don't get too hung up on your name.
Is a name important? Absolutely. But it's still less important than providing a great product, particularly for younger customers. "Millennials don't care about names or logos. It's all about the experience," claims Sinan Kanatsiz, chairman of the Internet Marketing Association. "They are more likely to share if something has utility. That's what is more important."