There are far more than 101 ways to use numbers in your brand name and end up with a name that no one but affiliates will easily remember. You fail before you even launch your product or service. Most numeric brand names see the light of day because someone is either lazy or tries to be overly smart. Both are not case studies for delivering a timeless and memorable brand name.
The lazies pick inspiration from immediate surroundings such as the corporation’s address, area code or adjacent freeway, in which case they hit rock bottom. Besides the missing message or depth in the name, needless to say this is a short term strategy until the company moves or expands. The more creative kind utilizes the area’s sights, attractions or even weather, as was the case with the highly respected Venice, CA based agency 72andSunny, who since expanded to Amsterdam, where it is more often 52andCloudy.
The overly smart create an arbitrary number based on the founders birthdays or other personal anecdotes or fun facts. 37signals (The company behind collaboration tools such as Basecamp) falls into this category as the name is derived from the 37 radio telescope signals identified by astronomer Paul Horowitz as potential messages from extraterrestrial intelligence (Source: Wiki). Those numbers (hence your brand name) mean nothing to the target audience, until they happen to read your About section on your web site, hoping to learn more about the reasoning behind the name (which is not the case with 37signals). Regardless, they won’t remember your secret number easily, or may I call it your brand pin code. In the worst case scenario your arbitrary number may be offensive to some religions, groups or even segments you may start catering to in the future.
Numbers in your name are risky and often forgettable, but there are ways to win the numbers game. Here are two rules to follow in order to get on the winning streak:
If your brand name will focus on a sole number, that very number needs to be significant to others. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight comes to mind. The name is derived from the number of electors in the United States Electoral Office. His followers would either know, or want to adapt to the number quickly as it is tied to knowledge surrounding a topic they themselves are interested in. Since it is a niche blog for a niche audience, Nate can get away without attaching a word to the number. Even with this approach, be aware that there will be companies with the same name and that any sole number domain name will likely be taken and just as expensive to obtain as it will be to gain IP rights. 7-Eleven is a successful example of creating a distinct name by using a number while showcasing a unique consumer benefit (open 7 – 11, 7 days a week), which perfectly transitions to rule #2:
The number, or word needs a partner to add value and create purpose. This forms an Alphanumeric Brand Name. If you are able to connect a meaningful number to a meaningful word, such as Social123 (Easy as 1-2-3) or 99Designs (99 equals big variety), you create a story and build a strong value proposition. You will have the added benefit of obtaining IP rights and securing your domain name swiftly.
Now you can play by the numbers, but be aware that if you enter the numeric brand name game, it most often is a gamble!