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Wednesday, 01 March 2017 6:55

Forget the Radio Test, Forge a Better Business Name

By - Michael Rader

In 1909, Gugliielmo Marconi received the Nobel Prize for the invention of the radio. It wasn’t until World War I, however, that the radio became a medium of mass communication. In doing so, a new method of advertising was born. According to A Brief History of Advertising in America by William O’Bar, “few innovations transformed the nature of advertising as fundamentally as the radio. Only the Internet would prove so revolutionary.”

As the radio soon found its way into virtually every home, the jingle was born. Radio shows crossed age, gender, and ethnic lines and enraptured households across the country, giving advertisers an endless supply of listeners. Many times, a program’s star delivered a company’s jingle during the show. It wasn’t long before the advertising industry informally adopted the “radio test” as a means of gauging the potential success of a company’s name.

The radio test was a means of determining whether a consumer would be able to spell a company’s name after hearing it. To pass the radio test, a name had to utilize simple and conventional spellings. As a rule, an entrepreneur avoided being overly creative or innovative when naming their business. The consumer’s ability to connect sound and spelling was all that mattered. There were no points for imagination.

The development of commercial television after World War II once again revolutionized the advertising industry. Now, consumers could visualize a company’s name as they heard it. This combination made the radio test less important. Unique names or those with unconventional spellings began giving companies more opportunities to set themselves out from the rest of the pack. It no longer mattered whether consumers could recognize a business based exclusively on the sound of its name because they rarely heard it without seeing it as well.

As business owners began embracing creativity within their branding, pedestrian names no longer captured the attention of consumers. The name game became all about burning an image into the minds of their target audience. Names like Gagets, Scoialli, Frozin, and Bublie (all of which are currently available for sale on Brandroot’s marketplace), may have failed the radio test, but that was no longer relevant.

Another obvious technological revolution occurred during the rise of the Internet during the late 20th century. Global communication became possible with the touch of a keystroke. Although limited radio advertising was (and is) still available, advertisers took advantage of both television and Internet to spread their message. Once again, consumers could recognize the visual aspects of a name as they were hearing it.

Today’s consumers have very limited attention spans, as they are constantly bombarded by a wide array of images. Business names must pack a punch and be memorable and impactful. Plain-jane names just don't make the cut anymore.

If there was a circumstance in which an unusual spelling or invented name is heard only, such as via radio or telephone, explaining the spelling will only serve to reinforce its impact and memorability.

Brandroot has conscientiously studied the visual impact of names and created a marketplace that is sure to have a moniker perfect for your new business venture, including such visually powerful names as Esmerize, Uxxer, Galaxan, Erotino, or Pristena. These names may not pass a traditional radio test, but they no longer need to. The 21st century is all about visual appeal. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 March 2017 7:36

Michael Rader

With over ten years in web development and design, Michael Rader has expertise and technical know-how. But more than a skilled technician, he is an entrepreneur and innovator who helps startup’s and new businesses identify and define their future with a unique, brandable business name. Michael Rader is the founder and CEO of Brandroot®, a leading .com domain name marketplace. He currently lives in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii where he operates the business and authors a blog dedicated to naming and brand name establishment.


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