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Our experts share insights on naming, branding and starting a new venture.
Trap: Picking a Name That's Not Your #1 Choice.
If you select a name that was your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th (or yikes) 6th or lower choice, you are sacrificing something. Keep in mind that your name is the keystone of your start-up. Don't sacrifice the success of your business on a second-tier company name.
Tip: Don't Be Different, Be Outstanding.
Any company can choose a name that's different. Your goal should be to select an uber-cool company name that stands head-and-shoulders above your competitors.
Trap: Don't Use Hyphens or Dashes in Your Domain Name.
If you use a domain name with a hyphen or a dash you're telling the world you couldn't obtain the non-hyphen domain name. Hyphens and dashes look unprofessional and will compromise your online status. They’re also incredibly difficult to communicate and you’re quite likely to be sending people to the wrong site, hopefully not your completion. Hyphens only stand as an obstacle between your customers and website!
Tip: Harmonize Your Company Name With Your Strategic Objectives.
Many start-ups fail to align their name with the key strategic objectives of their firms. A great name communicates a core message in a flash of a second.
Check back regularly for new start-up tips and traps to be avoided.
Brandings® has analyzed the Inc. Magazine survey of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in America. We've uncovered some powerful findings that you should consider when naming your company.
If you want your start-up to be like the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies -- here's what you need to know when developing your brand name and domain.
Finding #1: Dot-Com’s Rule. An overwhelming number of the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies use a dot-com domain extension as their primary internet web address. A whopping 95.1 percent (4,748 companies)¹ employed the dot-com extension. Of the firms that used a “non-com” domain extension, the distance second place domain of choice was dot-net with 3.1 percent (155 companies). The remaining 1.8 percent (93 companies) were wildly (and sparsely) distributed to the also-ran TLD extensions.²
"The results conclusively confirm that dot-com is king,” says John William Geranios, Ph.D. the Managing Partner at Brandings.com. “When over 95% of the fastest growing companies use a dot-com extension as their primary internet address that’s evidence of the collective consumer expectation that dot-com means business. In an environment where hundreds of new extensions are being introduced, growth firms increasingly rely on the strength and stability of the dot-com extension.”
The implications for start-ups are clear -- if you want to look like one of the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies, you better have a dot-com address. Your audience, including your prospective customers, will expect it.³
Findings #2 & #3: Stick to All Alphabetic Characters. The vast majority of the fastest growing companies have domain names that are hyphen-free and are consist of all alphabetic characters.
The reason is simple – hyphens and numbers can often be confusing and misdirect an audience. There are exceptions. When a number is integral to the of the brand name and domain name (like 24HourCares.com and 360Clean.com) it can increase, rather than impede consumer focus and attention.
This number of firms using hyphens and numbers remained virtually unchanged for growth firms from the 2014 and 2015 Inc. 5,000 data.
Finding #4: Dot-Com’s Earn More. The formidable financial performance of growth firms set-up on dot-com domains over all other “non-com” domains is one of the most notable findings gleaned from the data. Growth companies using the dot-com extension had, on average, revenue about 25% higher than firms using all other domain extensions.4
And Inc. 5,000 companies that were built on domain names that contained hyphens and numbers averaged earned about half as much as firms with all alphabetic characters. The ramification for firms starting out is powerfully consequential -- if you’re looking to emulate the fasting growing firms, you must launch using a dot-com web address.
In the coming months we’ll be analyzing the data further with specific attention paid to “causation” and “correlation.” While there is clear evidence documenting the correlation between dot-com use and domain character composition by Inc. 5,000 fast growth companies, further study is required examining the impact of other factors and causation.
Findings #5 & #6: Keep Your Name Short. The Inc. 5,000 company names average 11.51 characters in length. (That number remained virtually unchanged from the 2014 data where the average Inc. 5,000 brand name length was 11.44 characters long.) The data also provides evidence that the majority (76%) of the fastest growing companies in America have names that are made up of 14 or fewer characters. (27.4% had between 2 and 8 characters, 48.6% had between 9 and 14 characters; 24% had more than 15 characters.)
Brandings® has long advocated that the best brand names are even shorter than 14 characters. Brandings® Managing Partner, John William Geranios, Ph.D. asserts, “The most formidable brand names -- and domains -- are short in length, usually fewer than 11 characters. In a complex commerce environment, concise names that efficiently communicate a muscular brand message in just a few characters have proven most successful.”
Finding #7: Successful Firm's Match Their Domain Names to Their Brand Names. 70.1% of the Inc. 5,000 fastest growing companies had domain names that exactly matched their brand names.5 Another 16.7% were built on a domain name that was a shorter in length than the company brand name (e.g. Elastec,com for the firm Elastec V American Marine).
Less effectively, 8.5% used a domain name that was an extended version of their brand name (e.g. AdvoPayment.com for the firm AdvoPay). This extension has the potential to confuse consumers when they are trying to find a company online. Another 4.8% added a hyphen to their domain name (e.g. Square-Root.com for the firm SquareRoot), increasing the propensity for audience disconnect.
“The implications are gripping,” notes Geranios. “If you want to mirror the vast majority of the fastest growing companies and communicate clearly to your audience, your domain name should be your brand name with .com added.”
At Brandings® we've turned the traditional company name development model upside-down. We skip the fancy-presentations, expensive glossy brochures and months of big-budget meetings that are hallmarks of traditional bloated company name development firms. With your "Brand in a Box" you'll get a premium company name, dot-com domain, logo design and more at rock-bottom prices.
It's true -- world-class companies start with world-class names. Fortune 500 companies have teams of brand professionals to help them develop the perfect identity.
Now Brandings®provides start-ups with the branding expertise that levels the playing field with big league corporations. We know how tough it is to start a new business. You want to start with every advantage ... and that all begins with a powerful company name.
The naming experts at Brandings®share their insights on how to name a company and what to look for when choosing a new company name.
We'll share the "must-know" factors that make a company name great and will provide a free name evaluation tool that will help you select the perfect name.
¹ The remaining 1.8 percent (93 companies) were wildly (and sparsely) distributed to the also-ran TLD extensions, in decreasing order are dot-us, dot-org, dot-biz, dot-co, dot-tv, dot-solutions, dot-aero, dot-me, dot-edu, dot-global, dot-mx, dot-pro, dot-ly, dot-io, dot-agency, dot-capital, dot-cc, dot-ge, dot-is, dot-it, dot-la, dot-marketing, dot-soy, and dot-ws.
² Four firms were excluded from the Inc. 5,000 2015 data and 6 firms were excluded from the 2014 data for analysis because their primary website address could not be determined. Thus, the 2015 findings are based on 4,996 companies and the 2014 results are based on 4,994 companies.
³ The data also showed the percentage of businesses using the dot-com remained constant from 2014 to 2015. In 2014 95.3 percent of the fastest growing companies relied on a dot-com address.
4The average revenue for 2015 Inc. 5,000 companies built on a dot-com domain was $41.3 million (USD), the average revenue for firms employing all other domain extensions was $31.2 million. Average revenue for firms with domain names that were hyphen-free was $41.7 million, whereas revenue for firms with domains that contained a hyphen was $23.4 million. Average revenue for growth firms built on domain names with all letters was $42 million, those using a combination of numbers and letters had half the revenue, $21 million.
5 This group includes firms that truncated their brand name for a more impactful domain name. Examples include the use of StrategicMobility.com for Strategic Mobility Group, TapestryTech.com for Tapestry Technologies and DZSolutions.com for DZSolutionsEnterprise.