Is there an ideal number of syllables for a social media brand?

There has been an explosion of brand names in the social network sector and though they differ widely there are some underlying similarities.

I was working on a new brand project in the social arena and was assembling a list of competitive companies which the new brand needed to stand alongside. Looking at this wide selection of names, some strange and some conservative, something was nagging at my mind. There was some common thread. It was the number of syllables in the brand names.

I assembled, very unscientifically, a list of the 22 most common social brands. Of these, 16, nearly 73% had just two syllables (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc.); four had three syllables (Pinterest, Instagram etc.), and one each had four syllables or a single syllable.

Trying to assemble a less subjective list, I looked at a list of virtual communities with 100 million plus members. A similar model emerged: of the twelve communities, eight had two syllable names, two had three syllable names, one each for four and one syllable.

Can we learn anything useful from this or is it just a pointless fact? It probably won’t help you come up with that killer brand name, but it is certainly something worth considering. Do you want your brand to sit comfortably alongside its competitors or to stand out in the cohort?

Brand names are rarely critical to the success of a brand: they are merely signifiers and ultimately it is what the brand ‘does’ and what it delivers that matters. Facebook and Google have not been successful on the basis of their names, but on an original idea, well implemented. However, all other things being equal, a memorable or apposite name is certainly a contributor and a brand asset.


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