How Names Can Hurt You in Web Business
August 13, 2008 7:00 AM
In the offline world, we are exposed to and engage with brands just about everywhere we turn. In the online world, it’s a bit different. You never casually pass by MySpace as you might pass a McDonald’s on your way to work. You don’t regularly see Starbucks to the point where you think about it and stop in.
Instead of being seen and heard, brand names are typed into an address bar or search engine. If it’s passed onto another person, it’s spoken, e-mailed, posted or sent via instant message.
This means anything that’s difficult to say or spell, or has unusual wording, can make it difficult to find your company online. It can make or break your online efforts more than you think.
I ran into this situation recently. I wanted to reference a new Web show that had a long and tough-to-recall name. I could only remember one word from the title, so I tried a combination of it with a few others to see if I could pull it up.
It worked. If it hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have searched again. I believe that’s the way most users are online: If something is too difficult to find, they’ll move on.
With how challenging it is to drive traffic to a Web site, and how vast the Web is, a name—and whether it’s easy to remember, say and spell—can mean everything.
A name that helps a user quickly understand what a site has to offer also can be helpful.
The name "Crackle' wouldn’t conjure up the idea of Internet television, but Mania TV and Strike TV tell the audience exactly what to expect when they hit the page. This can help make user adoption easier. Why make it harder than it needs to be?
I believe the same rule applies in other areas as well. For example, episodic Web video content is referred to by some as “Web shorts” and by others as “webisodes.” Video over Internet is called Internet TV, broadband TV, broadband video, Internet video and other variations, all of which mean essentially the same thing.
I think the industry needs to be specific to help the audience better grasp these concepts. The sooner people do, the easier it can be. One thing is certain: In the online game, a name can be very important.