How to Choose a Business Name, Part 9: Spelling
In an era where people are searching for your brand on their phones or typing in your domain in their browsers, having an easy-to-spell name is more important than ever. After all, the last thing you want is for your customers to feel like they’re in the final round of a spelling bee every time they’re looking you up.
Remember, names that are tricky to spell can frustrate potential customers as they fail to track down your company. They also offer an opportunity for competitors to usurp a name with similar spelling. Finally, a brand with multiple spellings ultimately weakens your brand strength, as media may misreport on your name or customers may misspell it when reviewing or recommending it.
Ideally, your brand name should have just one, or even better, no alternate way it can be spelled. This helps you take ownership of a word and makes it easy for customers to find you.
When looking at spelling, consider the following:
Imagine you fall in love with a name and you have an amazing business concept that you’d like to take global. If that’s the case, recognize that many English-speaking countries have plenty of variations for popular keywords. For example, favorite versus favourite, or color versus colour. While highly recognized brands can transcend this conundrum, you’re best off avoiding names with different international spellings.
Sound Versus Spelling
The English language is rife with examples of words that sound the same, but are spelled differently, called homophones. For example, discrete and discreet – the former means separate parts, the latter means prudent or private. If you’re in the security sector, using the word ‘discreet’ as part of your name can be tricky as people may use the other spelling and be unable to find you. Try to pick words that have one spelling and mean one thing.
On the flip side, if you’re going for an abstract name, try to pick one that sounds exactly how it is spelled, with no extra letters in the mix. You want your name’s spelling to be memorable and easy, with no second-guessing.
If you love the essence of a word but can’t acquire that domain, one potential option is to rework the spelling of the word and take ownership of this ‘misspell’. For example, let’s say you’re a fitness brand that specializes in jogging gear. You can’t own jogger.com, but you have the option of dropping one of the g’s from ‘joger’ or even the e, for ‘joggr’. You’re still getting across what your brand is about and creating a memorable quirky twist on the keyword. But you will have a bit more work to do when it comes to educating customers on how your brand name is spelled.
Be wary of dropping too many letters. Scrapping ‘unnecessary’ letters (typically vowels) was definitely a recent trend. Using the example above, this trend would likely result in the name being ‘jogr’ – which phonetically sounds like the root word ‘jogger’ but may be too different for customers to remember and ultimately, track down when searching. When you’re reworking a pretty generic keyword like ‘jogger’, it can be very difficult for customers to find it if they can’t remember the unique way you’ve spelled it.
Spelling trends come and go (for example, using the .ly TLD as part of an adverb-style domain name) and there’s nothing wrong with capitalizing on them if you get ahead of the trend as early as possible, and if it helps you capture the spirit of the name you want.
Want more assistance in selecting a name? Check out our full series on how to choose a business name.