The Evolution of a Brandable Name
Each product and .com business out there has their story of how it came about. We were interested in the evolution of the brandable name virb.com. The product we know as Virb was not born into the world of website building but started as a social network. We got a chance to talk to the lovely and witty Brad Smith about the evolution of the name Virb in its transition of “hello website, goodbye profile.”
Me: I guess a good place to start would be just – Where does the name Virb come from/does it have meaning?
Brad: To be completely honest, when the name Virb was picked, it truly had nothing to do with the product. A short, easy to remember, domain name is a hot piece of real estate. HOWEVER… I loved that ‘verb’ is an action word. Virb (in the early days) as a social network, was about sharing and meeting people through the work that they create(d). I mean, it still is today, but the product (and biz) has changed so drastically.
As is the way with many 4-letter brandable domain names virb.com was snatched up in mid 2000 or earlier for very little money. It was real estate for some potential project or idea. “Well, the name already existed. The domain had already been purchased. We just didn’t know what to do with it yet” says Brad. The name belonged to one of Brad’s 11 partners in their 2005-2007 venture PureVolume.com, six of these people then became dedicated full-time to building the new social network Virb (version 1).
Me: A name like PureVolume is keyword based – what encouraged the push to go with a 4 letter brandable name instead for the future products?
Brad: PV was all about music – fans and bands, and connecting them. Virb wasn’t. Sure, Virb has a huge base of bands, but we were all about “people that create” if that be a photographer, a band, a painter, filmmaker, etc. If you create, the (original) Virb was a place for you. So the name needed to be generic in that sense.
Me: Do you remember any of the other domain names in the running for the social network? Or was that pretty much always the leader?
Brad: Yeah. It always was. Too short, too memorable (and rather easy to spell) the “i” instead of “e” still throws some people off. But what short domain names today, don’t? I know there were some other names tossed around, but without some intense therapy sessions, I probably couldn’t recall.
Virb’s evolution would not have been possible if they hadn’t originally chosen a short, memorable, brandable, 4 letter domain name. Brad says “Virb is not a social network anymore. It’s for those bands that still need their own web presence, outside of networks like Myspace, Soundcloud, and so on. Keep your social profiles, keep using Myspace and Facebook to promote your stuff. Virb just gives you a personalized presence that is ONLY yours. Not yours to share, your own look/feel/brand.” A 4 letter domain name purchased for it’s potential begins to breath new life once matched with a product. “Maybe it’s my physical connection to the name. Maybe it’s fate, or my neurotic nature, but I think that “virb” makes so much more sense for the new product. I cannot back that up with facts at all.” When choosing a brandable domain name you often have to just go with your gut feeling and take action. This action behind Virb and how their constant strides forward has come into play in their re-launch will be discussed in our next blog.