Does it Pass the “Radio Test?” Ask Siri

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Most branding professionals would recommend that a brand name must pass the “radio test.” This means that someone who hears the name of the company on the radio would know how to spell it in order to find it online or to recommend the brand to someone else who could easily find the website.

Even with the advances of Google and spell check, I think it is very important for a company’s domain name to pass the radio test. A website may never actually advertise on the radio, but there are plenty of reasons for why a domain name should be easy to recall and share with others.

George Kirikos shared some great advice on Domain Boardroom about how you can tell if a domain name passes the “radio test,” and he allowed me to share it with you. Simply take out your iPhone and ask “Siri.” If Siri can locate the website you are seeking, you’re likely in the clear. If Siri can’t find the website or doesn’t understand what you are looking to find, even with the assistance of its AI engine, you might want to rethink your brand and domain name.

If you want to visit Hotels.com, I am sure Siri could easily call up Hotels.com on your browser. If you are looking for websites for Hykso or Rappi (both are Y Combinator startups), you might have a difficult time having Siri find either of these websites. If Siri has a tough time, imagine how other people who hear about these companies might have a tough time locating them if they are unsure of the spelling. Sure, they may find them if they mistype or if they use Google, but it’s an uphill battle when the brand name doesn’t pass the radio test.

I understand that finding a memorable, easy to spell domain name is difficult when the budget is small. However, I believe it is critical that startup founders think about the “radio test” when naming their brands, and asking Siri might be a great start.

Thanks again to George Kirikos for sharing on Domain Boardroom and allowing me to share it with you.

1 COMMENT

  1. The “radio test” is overrated and maybe outdated. Even the brands Google and Siri do not pass that test. If you’ve never seen their spellings and only heard their pronunciations, good luck getting them right. The new “radio test” is whether people can easily spell the brand after seeing it – the “internet test”. Think flickr, tumblr, reddit, etc (in addition to Google and Siri). The “radio test” as you know it and describe it is so 90’s.

  2. I don’t think it’s outdated. It’s really not just a “radio test” — that’s a “short form” for any ‘audio’, including telephone, oral in-person meetings, TV (when not shown in text, but
    just spoken in the commercial). If you have to constantly spell out your brand, especially for that ‘first impression’, that’s not good.

    ‘Google’ is an exception to the rule, i.e. it overcame that weakness through how many billions of dollars worth of branding? Even then, there’s a lot of typosquatting for Google?

    Flickr/Yahoo ended up acquiring the Flicker.com domain name (after a lawsuit, presumably as part of a settlement).

  3. I think it’s nice to have an easy-to-spell domain name; the radio test has (or had) it’s merits.

    But tbh, I don’t know too many people in my generation and younger (twenty and thirty somethings) who still listen to the radio, except for maybe sports and news/weather – sometimes. When you live in a place like NYC, you are mostly on the train or walking. You definitely don’t listen to the radio then. You’d quicker see an advertisement on the subway and try to remember the website.

    The point is that memorability may be more important. I think domains that pass the radio test should be sure to pass the memorability test. One example is stocksnap.io. It’s one of those free pictures websites. For the life of me, I just can’t remember it every time I need a picture for a blog post. I mean the name passes the radio test just fine but I just can’t remember it. Maybe it’s just me!

    The point is the you loose traffic/sales if people just can’t remember your brand name.

  4. Google is an exception because before they started doing evil and being evil, they began with something that was simply so superior and so desirable that you would latch onto them even if they were called adp9oqpeoirhjqpeoijf.com. No SE has matched them yet either.

    Any suggestion that “Google” demonstrates outdated-ness of the “radio” (audio, as George well pointed out) test is a complete nonstarter.

  5. On a comical note, I was watching a video produced by someone the other day. He has the “Example-Example…com” and I have the “ExampleExample…com” version. He has a really nice site and a really nice video he produced. I am using the non-hyphen version. As you get near the end of the video, the cool-sounding presenter has to go into this really hilarious extended speech showing that the domain is the hyphenated version, and you have to make sure you use “Example – Hyphen – Example…com” yada yada. It’s really hilarious from the perspective of a domainer-turned-publisher/end user.

    And that, naysayers, is a classic example of failing the “radio test” miserably. I recently acquired the non-hyphen version and will be directly competing.

  6. Radio Test is a good question !?!

    what do you ,,hear,, if you hear .com ?

    why does the chinese like .com ?

    is it :

    .communism ? ( chinas online market ) ?

    i like the Radio test

    for me sounds .com like communism … what else ?

  7. Hi,

    I think each brand spelling needs the radio test to make fastest growth of the brand name. Like we have the domain name for sale dyeeye.com. Its easy to spell after first listen.

  8. This is interesting.

    I also thought the “radio test” advice for naming and branding was outdated. It was a top rule during the 1980s and 1990s, for branding and marketing companies.

    Then all these “neologisms” for monikers upended this rule: Google, Tumblr, Flickr, Lucent, Accenture, Skype, Napster and more

    But now, with AI assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Operator, M, with speak or voice to search, the radio test is more important. This will also relate to the growth of wearables, and querying via voice.

    So the radio test, so retro, is back in vogue.

  9. Yes, the radio test is passƩ.

    Personally, I prefer brand names that must be repeated 3 times in conversation, emphasizing the clever way they’re misspelled. Scrounging for a scrap of paper and asking nearby strangers to borrow a pen so that I can write out the brand name ā€“Ā that’s the sign of a great name right there!

    @Tony,

    All that matters is “whether people can easily spell the brand after seeing it”. Will you join me in cutting off my ears and avoiding in-person human contact? Hearing is overrated. Face-to-face interaction is outdated. Speech is so 90s! Only typing and seeing exist.

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