The Brandable Insider: How to Recognize a Good Invented Domain Name

Invented domains are an alternative to brand names based on keywords. You won’t find them in the dictionary but the good ones are easy to pronounce when you read them and easy to spell when you hear them in a conversation.

They are also short. The average invented company name is five or six letters long. Some are shorter. A few are longer. But very rarely are the good ones more than seven or eight letters.

Now I’ll add a fourth quality to that list of attributes. They feel familiar. The best invented names feel like they are a real word or should be one. For this reason successful startups often select names that contain elements of existing dictionary words, slang terms or common phrases.

You’ll see what I mean when you look at the invented names of these 2016 unicorn companies with matching dot-com domain names:

  • Lufax

– It contains the term, fax, which started as slang for facsimile and later became a dictionary word. Right away you get the idea that this a company dealing with professional services. It’s actually a Chinese startup that specializes in financial services.

  • Theranos

– This name borrows from the word ‘therapy’ in order to convey that it’s in the blood testing niche of the medical industry.

  • Tanium

– Here’s a shortened version of the word ‘titanium’ being used by a software company that specializes in IT data search.

  • Powa

– This one sounds like a slang version of the word ‘power’ and conveys an image of something fast and strong. It’s the name of a UK mobile payments company that ran out of ‘powa’ and had a financial collapse earlier this year.

  • Houzz

– Here’s a hack of the word ‘house’ and it’s an apt brand for a Palo Alto, California start-up specializing in home design.

  • ZocDoc

– A New York company that took the common slang term for doctor and echoed it with the made up sound, Zoc to create a memorable name for a health professional search platform.

  • Apttus

– This one’s a combination of the word ‘apt’ and the word ‘us.’ An appropriate brand for a revenue management startup catering to e-commerce ventures.

  • Blippar

– Elements of the phrase ‘blip on the radar’ combine to create this fun sounding brand for a mobile augmented reality startup.

The best invented names later become household words. For example, Google started out as an invented name but became so ubiquitous it’s now listed in the dictionary as both a noun and a verb.

What do you think makes a great invented name? What’s the best invented name you own? Let us know in the comment section below.

Some righteous brandable auctions at NameJet this week:

Keith deBoer

Keith DeBoer is a part-time, domain investor with an emphasis on brandable domains. He’s a domain industry writer with published content at BrandBucket, DomainShane and NamePros. He’s also a brand ambassador for BrandBucket and by day, he works as an Internet consultant.

20 thoughts on “The Brandable Insider: How to Recognize a Good Invented Domain Name

  1. I’ve been watching the brandable domain sale sites and frequently see names with back to back repeat letters like Houzz and Blippar. If I heard any of these names said in a conversation, I would not type them into my browser correctly. I know these domains are being bought, but they seem to go against the ‘easy to spell when you hear them in a conversation’ rule.

    1. You are absolutely correct. Good call. Both those names would be improved if they had a single letter instead of a double. Somehow they made it to unicorn status despite these flaws!

    2. They don’t count or recalling it after one use. You use it once, you use it twice and you remember it. They also use some strong visual identity design to make the name stick in your mind.

      1. Nameably- Names with back to back repeat letters like Houzz and Blippar may have a strong visual identity, but they have a poor audible identity. If I heard or in a conversation or an audio advertisement during a podcast, I wouldn’t type the name into my browser correctly.

        If I had to spend my own money to buy a brandable name for my company, I would buy a name that is spelled the way it sounds.

        I’m new at domaining and brandables, even though I don’t like this type of name, I acknowledge that they sell and I suppose that’s all that should matter to a domainer.

  2. Keith,

    Great article- love the series on brandables that you do. I think that Verizon was an all time great one.

    Some of mine that I like are appnormous, invingo, and coinvergence- all in dot com.

    Keep up the good work!


  3. Great article with nice names. Except Apttus, that is one ugly unfamiliar name. Just sounds weird, looks weird, spelled weird.

  4. Thanks Keith for the great post. It is part of brandable with no pattern. I owned and After that I stop invest in this kind of name, I see a lot in BB, but I don’t even know the pattern. My Fruizen was owned by Fruizen Dessert, that’s why I bought it. It is from mix of frozen and fruit. But why is not Fruitzen? It is very subjective I guess….

  5. Great article. I like a lot of the ‘non’ word brandables. I don’t have anything as discussed… but DO have a few that might be gems: – a 5 letter (Orange County Business Referral Group) acronym that’s easy to say and remember – a two word oxymoron that begs to be applied to an edgy fashion line for women

  6. I was just surfing the net and saw word EQUINOX meaning Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun.

    I immediately registered a domain EQVINOX.So folks are such type of domains which reads same to the original word but have slightly different spellings.

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