With the web becoming both equally open and surprisingly accessible, more and more brands and individuals are beginning to take notice of the importance of branding and consistency in an increasingly crowded digital space. What began with fierce competition for a premier dot com domain has shifted into domain parkers and hoarders that make it difficult to find your preferred brand name. The addition of quite a few new top level domains and the ever-permanent dot net, dot co and dot biz domains ( as well as location specific domains ) has made this hunt easier, but this has only made social media the new no man’s land. According to Statista, Facebook clocks in at over 1.4B ( that’s billion ) active users and popular social networks Google Plus and Instagram, both with 300M active users narrowly eclipse Twitter’s 288M. Even Pinterest with 47M can be considered large, when you think of almost 50 million unavailable usernames. However, these statistics fail to take into account false usernames or spoof inactive accounts, which Facebook estimated can be as high as 11% as seen on The Next Web.
What this all boils down to for a brand or individual trying to stand out, in an overburdened digital space, is that it might be even more difficult. Individual names are virtually impossible to brand well, unless that name corresponds to a celebrity ( and can merit a relevant Wikipedia listing ), but brands suffer from intra-industry competition. In the realm of Fashion, its not too uncommon to find a media firm such as a magazine or blog or a public relations agency with a similar name. Similarly specialty food brands like confectionery, bakeries or wine bars and even women-oriented businesses ( especially those in beauty services, likes spas or salons ) and event spaces tend to carry similar names to fashion brands. Of course, the beauty industry is just filled with similar brand names and competition for names can be even more fierce. Try looking for “La Chic Mode” and the results can easily include a beauty salon, a designer label, two blogs, another store on Etsy and a Public Relations Agency depending on which location you are searching from.
While this may sound as though having a strong brand name is the important to thing to great branding ( some will agree others won’t ), it’s more important to understand that at some point or another its going to be important to claim your brand’s digital space and even change you name on social media or other channels to be more competitive and stand out. Of course, it helps if your brand isn’t named “La Chic Mode”, but here are a few creative ways to change your social media brand names:
Underscore Your Name to Overscore Importance
For search marketers, the underscore is never desirable within a URL. For starters, most search engines treat an underscore as a missing space, as it literally has no valuable function within the keyphrase and doesn’t indicate to the search engine what the page could potentially be about. However, from a user perspective the proliferation of hyphens makes underscores bad for domains and URLs. If you say your site is flying dash monkey, most users would visit http://flying-monkey.com. On social however, this mentality is totally reversed.
Marina Galanti uses an underscore for their brand name on Twitter, which is not to be confused with @marinagalanti. The underscore overscores a level of sophistication with the luxury accessories brand, but also helps the label to carve on their own niche. Most likely they were just beaten to the punch, but the underscore allows them to almost use the exact same username as their Instagram and Facebook pages.
Love This and XOXO That
Do you love Pink Lion? If the answer is yes, then Pink Lion has made it even easier to find them on social media. With a cute mantra like “We’ll Search. You Shop”, Pink Lion seems tailor made for Pinterest, but is also actively carving out a digital space and creating a stronger affinity to the brand. If every time you think of Pink Lion, the phrase “love” pops up you are more likely to engage, both by liking or loving the brand and more often by seeing what the brand has to offer. Using “Love” and “XOXO” is very common among female lifestyle enthusiasts online, particularly fashion bloggers, social shoppers and youthful brands like Pink and Forever21.
Lizza Monet Morales, nicknamed “The Ultimate Tomboy in Heels”, probably uses XOXO to soften up that tomboyish persona, but in all reality, you probably have already met a Lisa Morales or Elizabeth Morales or Lizzy Morales or maybe came across a very similar name online. The move to use XOXO helps to distinguish the actress and fashionista from other Lisas.
Country and City Please
Country and City references are typically reserved for larger international brands or brands where there is a multi-faceted touchpoint for customers, even for a single product. A great example is L’Oreal, which commonly uses @lorealusa when speaking to their North American audience on Twitter and Facebook. However, many individuals use this as well, such as models like Lisa Philips that add “la” or “nyc” to the end of their name to indicate their primary representation or small designers such as Pamela Love NYC which use their city to carve out their brand’s heritage and inspiration or even local franchises like @Rickys_NYC, a popular beauty supply store in the New York area. Outside of large cities, this is not as common, but its still used widely enough as a social differentiation strategy.
Abr. ( Thats Abbreviation )
Abbreviations are a no brainer for social media as some brands have names that are just long. With longer usernames, mentioning a user or two on Twitter makes it harder to include a detailed message with hashtags and on Instagram, it becomes hard to remember. Often abbreviations are reserved for part of the brand rather than the whole name, such as in the case of Jean Fares Couture. The Parisian label would clock in at 18 characters if using hyphens or underscores along with the full name. That’s a lot of button presses, compared to just 11 with the abbreviation.
The Business of Fashion, one of the most popular fashion-related publications ever created, has taken abbreviation to a whole new level. By using the phrase BoF in quite a few of their branded messages and on various social sites, they dominate that three letter combination, particularly amongst most fashion circles ( they even rank well for BOF in Google search ). Consider again that 19 characters is considerably more on the thumbs than 3 and BOF has definitely created a unique space for themselves on social media and in general.
Even Candice Swanepoel goes for the abbreviation with her @angelcandice. With abbreviations, your follower’s thumbs will thank you and the brand will also be easier to remember.
Zero, 1, 2, 3 . . .
Lastly, you will notice numbers are rarely ever and typically never used for branding, as no brand wants to be known as @brand1 or @brand2. These typically are applied as a last resort and only if the persons responsible aren’t savvy enough or have very few options in regards to the brand’s social space. This is because numbers in social media typically apply to false or spammy accounts, that can be discarded with relative ease. Avoid using numbers in social nomenclature, with the very rare exception being a brand that has a number in the name ( even @onedirection writes out the number ) such as @1SolSwimwear or corresponds to an address / location in the brand’s name like @7thManMagazine. Note in both examples the number appears in the front of the social name.
Featured Image: Our Social Times