The Spinbix Effect

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There’s an established and long-standing process to developing and choosing names for new products. In fact, this is a business in and of itself, and it’s not unheard of for companies to pay tens of thousands of dollars to come up with the name for a new product.

Based on what my colleagues and I recently uncovered, I’d like to make the case for this money being spent on coming up with truly unique product names. Why do I believe this? It has to do with something that I’ve just named "The Spinbix Effect."

We’ve been working on a large and complex search engine optimization (SEO) project for a client that manufactures and markets lots of consumer widgets. For the purposes of this article, let’s pretend the client is "Acme." Each of Acme’s widgets has its own brand name. Some of the names are more generic and use words found in the dictionary, such as Acme Mosaic and Acme Hunter. Other brand names are completely unique words not found in the dictionary, such as Acme Spinbix and Acme Bunfob.

As part of our SEO project, we’ve been looking at inbound traffic to Acme’s Website from search engines. More particularly, we’ve been analyzing the keywords and phrases that are generating traffic for Acme. One of the most interesting patterns we observed was that products that have unique names (e.g., Acme Spinbix) generate higher search traffic (Website visitors) than products with generic names (e.g., Acme Mosaic).

This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. A consumer who hears about a product called "Acme Mosaic" (through traditional marketing channels) and then goes and types "mosaic" into a search engine is going to get all sorts of search results that have nothing to do with Acme and its products. From the get go, when it uses a generic name for a product, Acme is facing an uphill battle in terms of generating search traffic.

Now contrast this with a consumer hearing about, and then searching for, a product with a unique name, such as "Acme Spinbix." When they type "Spinbix" into a search engine, not only are there going to be far fewer search results to sift through, but by default most of them are going to be related to Acme and its products. (Right now, for instance, a search on Google for "spinbix" turns up only 1 page!) When Acme uses unique names for its products, it greatly increases its odds of generating valuable search traffic. In a perfect world, Acme should use unique names for all of its products.

There are lots of good reasons for a company to try to come up with unique names for its products, especially if those products will be advertised in traditional channels. The Spinbix Effect should be added to that list of reasons.

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4 thoughts on “The Spinbix Effect

  1. Ken Schafer - One Degree

    Great post Bill and an really interesting topic.
    I find myself getting MORE confused on naming strategy as time goes on.
    My general strategy has been to go towards the most unique name that makes sense for the product in hopes of gaining some mindshare and being “findable” online. I also like being able to know that uses of the word are about my product.
    The perfect example of this for me was Squidoo – Seth Godin’s start-up. When Seth started Squidoo there were less than 20 uses of the word on the entire Internet and they were all incredibly obscure.
    Once Squidoo launched setting up tracking for online references to the company was therefore incredibly easy. If a Technorati or Google search said a page was talking about “Squidoo” it was invariably Seth’s company.
    However, this runs counter to the arguments made by SEO experts and domainers who say that generic terms have much more value because people are more likely to type these terms into search engines.
    By way of example, is the CMA’s blog at canadianmarketingblog.com better named than onedegree.ca? Hard to say I’d say. The CMA’s name might have a better change of appearing as the top result for searches on “Canadian Marketing Blog” but it is (in my opinion) harder to remember or pass along than “One Degree”.

  2. Barry Welford

    If you’re not too offended by running words together, an easy way of creating those unique brand names is to have names such as AcmeMosaic. That’s a name you can surely ‘own’ on the Internet. It’s one of my simple tricks, eliminate the Gap. 🙂

  3. Michael

    Bill, do you believe that the same logic holds true for company names? If you were to launch a new online service for example, would it be easier to market a literal name which describes the service, e.g. http://www.playgames.com or a unique name which would have to be branded with the service attributes – e.g. http://www.yippee.com? The constraint being a start-up type marketing budget.

  4. Frank Michlick

    It all depends on your goal. Is it your goal to optimize the site for visitors that already know that they are looking for this companies products? Or is it your goal to bring new customers to your client?
    Using unique and non-descriptive names for products will require the user to know that name in order to find the product from a search engine.
    Using descriptive terms for the name of your product could also introduce new visitors to your customer’s site that have not heard of the product before.
    Coming up with unique individual product names may require actually doing a real branding exercise for each and every product.

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