Instant recognition leads to online success

If I were to ask you for the names of successful online business you would probably say things like “Google”, “Facebook”, or “Amazon”. And you’d be right – they are hugely successful firms. Indeed, in the world of online retail the latest figures show that Amazon dominates – selling almost four times the amount of its nearest rival, Apple. Even a major company like Dell, which is tenth on the list, only manages to make 5% of Amazon’s sales.

Amazon fdominates online sales

There are two things we can learn from this data:

  1. Success is equated with a well-known brand
  2. Well known brands have one-word names

Take a look at the image and you can see that these are all brand you knew about, even without the Internet. You have heard of Staples, even if you have never visited them. Even if you haven’t set foot in the USA you will have heard of Macy’s. In other words, these businesses spend significant effort in establishing their brand OFFLINE. If you want your website to succeed, take a tip from these guys – put significant effort to building your brand in the real world.

But also, take a look at these names. Apart from Office Depot they are all one-word brands. Amazon. Sears.Dell. Even “Liberty Interactive” is known and referred to as “Liberty”.  Nine out of the top ten online retailers have business names which are one word – often of few letters. Take a look at your local High Street and what do you see? “Boots”, “Smiths”, “Lloyds”, “Barclays” and “Next”. Sure there are some exceptions, such as “House of Fraser” or “Carphone Warehouse”, but “Marks and Spencer” has become “M&S” and “British Home Stores” is simply “BHS”. The majority of retail success is linked to short, recognised brand names.

It all suggests that success is connected with the ability of customers and potential customers to instantly recognise you. It is easier for our brains to cope with instant recognition when the brand name is already “tip of the tongue” because it is “out there” so much and when what is on the tip of our tongue is so short it is easy to spit out.

That means if you want your website to succeed online it needs to be short, snappy and well recognised offline too.

Perhaps it is time to abandon “Graham Jones – Internet Psychologist”? Anyone for “Netshrink”?

Image courtesy Statistica

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I am an Internet Psychologist studying how people behave online, enabling businesses to find out more about customer and consumer behaviour. I am the author of "Click.ology: What Works in Online Shopping" and 28 other books.

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