Digital Legacies: Naming

Julius Wiedemann delves into the present-day competition over naming rights and recognition, with regards to their applications in online domains, branding, and social media.

by Julius WiedemannPublished on : Oct 19, 2021

The creation of names is now more difficult than ever, not just because there are many names around brands, but also because the Internet is becoming saturated with both obvious and weird names. We are certainly getting creative with names, but also coming up with humourous and strange combinations after misspellings populated our minds, such as Flickr and Tumblr. By some estimates there are around one billion websites registered, so chances are that a dreamy .com URL is pretty hard to find. They represent slightly over 50 per cent of all domains. Today there are hundreds of new domain names featuring everything from .pizza to .pet to .shop to .blackfriday. Early adopters usually have an upper hand and can innovate brands using new terminations. Another common strategy is to buy multiple domains and converge searchability to one central website. Professionals observe that using deliberate misspellings and slang can many times make it harder for users to remember, find, or identify names online.

There are currently around 1 billion registered websites by some estimates, with an assortment of unusual domain names | Digital Legacies by Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
There are currently around 1 billion registered websites by some estimates, with an assortment of unusual domain names Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

The article 5 Tips for Finding a Domain That’s Not Already Taken from Rebel says, “A good rule of thumb is this: If you can tell someone the name of your website without having to spell it out to them, you’ve got a winner.” Linguistics is a fascinating territory to explore in the 21st century. We have languages that are disappearing, and at the same time we are trying to preserve ancient languages because they mean preserving ancient cultures, like indigenous ones. Getting creative and using humour is one side of the coin. But languages can be rich in content and context, and can help innovators find names for both domains and brands. When we think about the online environment today we are not only talking about the names of companies that are directly related to products. He goes much deeper into our lives. We are constantly suggesting to friends names of podcasts, communities, films, musicals, TV series, and others.

As ancient languages gradually disappear, provoking preservation efforts, the field of linguistics is an intriguing arena to explore in the present day | Digital Legacies by Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
As ancient languages gradually disappear, provoking preservation efforts, the field of linguistics is an intriguing arena to explore in the present day Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Simplicity of course has been a way to sort out recognition online. Domains with two and three letters were the first ones to be occupied. However, many but not all .com two-letter domains are among the most valuable domains. The case of the domain involving the LG Corp (the South Korean electronics conglomerate also known as Lucky-Goldstar) to purchase the domain LG.com is one of these mysteries, and was not initially published. The LG Group missed the first sale of the domain in 2008 from the original owner, the American chemical company Lockwood Greene, to the entrepreneur Andy Booth, who used it to launch the footballing website LifeGames. Finally LG Corp bought "lg.com" in 2009, changing the worldwide marketing strategy to LG.com, becoming their central internet address for all countries.

Domain names with two and three letters are among the most commonly used and the first to be occupied | Digital Legacies by Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Domain names with two and three letters are among the most commonly used and the first to be occupied Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

LG is not the only company to try to simplify its presence online. In 2010 Facebook purchased the domain FB.com for $8.5 million in cash and stock options on top. There are other famous cases of domains that had to be purchased later for large sums of money. The IG Group paid $4.7 million in 2013 to buy IG.com, while GMO Internet, Inc. purchased Z.com for nearly $6.8 million from Nissan, who used it for its Nissan Z series cars. Other record sales are VacationRentals.com for $35 million in 2007, PrivateJet.com for $30.1 million in 2012, Voice.com for $30 million and Internet.com for $18 million in 2009. Moving in a different direction, in 2002, the longest internet domain name was registered in the United Kingdom and entered the Guinness Book of Records with the awkward name of llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.co.uk.

The art of naming has become more than just websites and domains. Hashtags are now almost as important. Finding a unique hashtag has become almost as difficult. I have recently been at the wedding party of a friend, who is a social media manager, and created for her husband William and herself Erika, the unique hashtag #we1610 with the date of celebration for invitees to post on Instagram. A clever way to use the first letters of their names to create something unique that wouldn’t be used by other people and be fun at the same time.

Combining all aspects of an online presence from domain names, internet addresses, and branding is the ideal way to create a holistic communications plan | Digital Legacies by Julius Wiedemann | STIRworld
Combining all aspects of an online presence from domain names, internet addresses, and branding is the ideal way to create a holistic communications plan Image: Courtesy of Julius Wiedemann

Finally, there’s social media with an equal challenge. From Instagram to Twitter, social platforms have to connect most of the time with recognisable names and communication strategies. Maybe some social media domains will soon become harder than websites. With Instagram having almost 1.4 billion users, YouTube with almost 2.3 billion, and Twitter with over 200 million users, social media has already become part of our daily lives, and of those of the brands as well. The hardest part will become for sure the combination of all aspects of an online presence that can help in overall communication plan. The advice is to make these checkings early on and to be thinking creatively ahead of future challenges.

Read more from the series Digital Legacies where our columnist Julius Wiedemann investigates the many aspects of digital life.

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