Startups: The most important naming trends

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Quite a few company founders have racked their brains when selecting a suitable domain name.

A successful name helps with search engine rankings and makes what you’re offering easier to identify. With start-ups, choosing a domain name follows trends and often results in patterns.

Not all names make sense at first glance

Take a look at the dynamic Silicon Valley start-up scene. You may wonder what some businesses were thinking when they came up with their names. This is true of startups like Dribbble or Hipmunk (now Concur) . At first glance, it’s not really clear what products or services the company is offering.

Dribbble, for example, is a platform for self-advertising and networking among designers and creative people. Hipmunk, which has since closed its doors, offered the ability to compare travel and vacation costs for various locations.

Even anomalies sometimes have methods to them

Even if the names seem strange initially, there are clear trends that have emerged in the naming of start-ups. In the case of Dribbble, they used a simple trick when coming up with the name by inserting an extra letter. The three consonants in a row immediately draw your attention to it and give the name a high recognition value.

This makes you curious even if you are not sure what the company stands for based solely on the name.

On the other hand, in practice, different methods of naming can indeed be distinguished.

The dropped vowel

What makes names like Flickr, Tumblr or Grindr stand out? Here, of course, a vowel is missing. The terms appear understandable and unusual at the same time and thus attracts attention. Names like these also help the search for available domains. Just because the complete and correctly spelled domain is unavailable, does not necessarily apply to the vowel-truncated version.

This is a real advantage today. Domain names that are available to be registered are quite rare and valuable, so creativity is often needed anyway when searching for them.

Flickr allows sharing photos and videos, Grindr is an app for mobile dating. And Tumblr is one of the most successful blogging platforms. None of these start-ups have been hindered by their missing vowels.

Working with Suffixes

As early as 2016, The Atlantic reported that over 160 start-ups had chosen names ending in “ly”, “fy” “”lee” or “li”. And this trend continues to this day. Excellent examples of this are Weebly, Fabricly (shut down), Spotify or Shopify. The suffixes change the original word only partially. It is still immediately recognized for what it is all about.

Shop alone would not be a good name for an e-commerce solution and would hardly be accepted under trademark law. Shopify, on the other hand, is not only allowed, it also is pleasantly memorable to users.

In the US, start-ups are supposed to follow this trend, which originates from the famous Californian start-up center Y Combinator.

Google, a prominent example of an intentional misspelling

Founders often use names that are simply misspelled. No particular method leads to the result, it is rather chance that dictates their name.

Google, for example, is a misspelling of the word “googol”. This is an English term for the number ten to the power of one hundred. The word creation demonstrated that the founders wanted to aim high with their pursuits.

The social news aggregator Reddit (“I read it”) and the discussion platform Disqus (“discuss”) are further examples of companies with creative misspellings.

The counter-movement is obvious

Many observers now assume the trend towards increasingly strange names for start-ups will soon be reversed. With startups such as Hulu, Kaggle or Zynga, odd name choices has likely reached its peak and will probably not continue indefinitely.

In 2019, naming consultancies such as Brighter Naming noticed that founders are increasingly accepting of more conventional names for their companies. For instance, a new software development choosing a name like Coder or Hitch, an app for long distance car trips. (This term refers to the hitch on the back of a car or truck.)

Prefixes gaining popularity

Not a whole lot of creativity feeds into this – but it seems that being overly creative is not the norm anymore. But doesn’t that make the search for available domains more difficult again?

The founders have apparently found a solution to this problem in the form of prefixes. Chief, for example, is a networking platform for women, their domain is joinchief.com.

And the notes organization tool, Journal reaches interested parties via the domain usejournal.com. Using this simple strategy, even start-ups with common names will find a suitable domain.

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