IO Branding — The Cutesy Approach
In Part I of this series bringing tips from the domain industry for a perfect .io brand, we looked at how .io domains can make the perfect quirky brand. Now in Part II, we explore how this popular extension can be used to execute the perfect ‘cutesy’ brand domain.
The cutesy approach to dot io
If you want to play up the ‘cutesy’ side facilitated by the .io extension, there’s are some branding tactics that have served well in the past. Some of the tips contained below are of course part of brand styling techniques from beyond the realm of .io domain. But the purpose of this article is to share what has already proven itself to work specifically in the .io extension.
Choosing the perfect domain will never be an exact science, because of the nature of both the tools and the materials. But we feel that the domain industry is already mature enough to take the next steps towards making the science of picking a good domain, well, more scientific.
Over one billion domains have been registered at one time or another, and we already have enough data, enough ‘iterations’ of what has and has not worked. And so when you drill down into it, there are certainly distinct patterns and therefore lessons that can extrapolated from what we have.
We know where we’ve been. And if we know where we’ve been, we can figure out where the trends may will head. For that is what makes a good domainer. They are part scientist, part artist, part soothsayer.
Below are some tips that have worked for .io branders looking to secure a ‘cutesy’ domain.
Tips for crafting a cutesy .io brand
When chooosing your domain/target word (as a very general rule, .io domains are most powerful when framed as single-word domains, at least for now), you can still draw on a little of the quirkiness outlined in Part I of this series of articles, but there are some distinct, recognizable elements that go into a ‘pure’ cutesy dot io brand.
- Choose a target word that is not as outlandish as its purebred ‘quirky’ counterpart.
- Ideally should be short.
There can be no strict rule here, but if it’s not an obvious absolute stomper that just happens to be a longer word, you should be absolutely sure that you want to go for the longer word, and on your reasons for doing so.
- In hitting the ‘cutesy’ note pitch perfect, nouns* typically make for greatest clarity and impact.
This is somewhat subject to macro trend fluctuations, but more importantly is affected by smaller trends within a given vertical or niche. You will likely know from instinct what is trending in your niche — or your market research will tell you. And if you some of these other brands can be fitted into the ‘cutesy’ definition, this is ideal fodder for thought when making the choice on your own offering.
- All other things being equal, soft consonants work best.
Again, there can be no strict rule here, so don’t stress (ba-dum) too much about this on its own. If other factors are in place, incompliance it may not be an issue.
- Try to work in some alliteration.
Especially if you’re going to use plosive consonants like ‘t’ or ‘p’,
- See whether you can fit in a repeat letter, ideally a vowel.
A sweet OO, for example, is a surefire pair for boosting the cutesy credentials of your doe-eyed, lash-batting internet home.
- Use letters that have curvy shapes.
Another tool in your arsenal, it’ll add visual appeal and make your sweet ickle domain that little bit more squishy and cuddly. On account of the odd dynamics of the English language, working roundy letters into your domain will also more likely than not mean it’s softer and soothinger on the ears.
((Fun fact: English was once upon a time just one really long underscore. Before, that is, the Council of Scribes, sick of having the abbey sacked every other year decreed that it be chopped it up and fashioned into something more useful in a fight. Or at least give the newer monks something to keep their hands busy. (Real Fun Fact: Latin was written out by scribes as one continuous sentence, no punctuation, no spaces — fish out the domain extension in that string!))
Such cutesy .io domains should ideally gel together many of the above elements in the quest for a dainty little number you will call yours.
Don’t be derivative, be diminutive!
Diminutive endings can work great, too, especially ‘-et’ and ‘-ly’, as they serve two functions that fit our purposes:
1. They cutesify the word, if even just by implication. We are used to nouns with this ending being smaller, so this deeply rooted inherent brand equity may be imparted even if this isn’t the case for a given word. (You made soup, but you put in it a jello mold. When you serve it from the fridge, people won’t think it’s jello, but they will think of jello);
2. They neatly tie the word together — both metaphorically and visually, injecting the domain with that teensier bit more separation between the Second-Level Domain (SLD), the characters to the left of the dot, and the .io extension (the Top-Level Domain (TLD)).
For example, the mind reads the compact Totty.io instantly, with the last letter of the target word neatly sloping to the left and the io appearing as if to start a new sentence after the period has been put in place. The result is that it feels natural and complete in itself. Or rather, each of the two elements feel self-contained and complete.
Then, this in turn allows a third element to be born, the brand. Which, unsurprisingly, given its parents, also appears neat, complete and self-contained. And which, in turn, highlights the neatness, etc, of the two elements. A positive feedback loop is created and the brand soars as a result.
An effortlessly flexible domain extension
The .io extension is so powerful that it can bring brands into existence that otherwise may not be viable, but pairing this with ‘diminutive’ ending makes this the case even more so. We speak at length about the supreme flexbility of the .io extension in the third part of this series on .io branding. But the above domain could be taken as an illustration of a further kind of brand facilitation enabled by the .io extension.
As in the case of ‘totty’, the internal construction of the word can even be a little bit ‘busy’, but this dynamic does not get overemphasized in the final outcome because the domain is quickly brought to a superclean finish. There is zero danger of the SLD spilling over into the domain extension’s expression space.
Totty.io is nother on those brands that reads clear and crisp, like an inkprint issued by a freshly cut rubber stamp, with no fraying around the edges.
Examples of popX cutesy dot .io domains
Prime cutesy cuts from the one-word .io range include:
Creel.io (Has two meanings — that traditional wicker basket used to carry freshly caught fish or a piece of a spinning machine, so there’s broad, symbolic scope here.)
Floret.io (Open branding on this one, with a light, enthusiastic feeling — think summer meadows and picking whisps of fuzz out of your lover’s locks. Or, who knows, a slick flower/garden landscaping startup. We use the floret part of many popular herbs — chamomile, for example, so it may also lend itself to some (off-the-label) medtech use.)
Nitty.io (Fun yet ultra-detailed times ahead, it’s so close to ‘Nifty’, an NFT project will surely bag this one.)
Nutsy.io (Tastes like crazy!)
Runts.io (Anything to do with nurturing, nourishing or rooting for the underpig! Like Filth.io, if you promise to pull off an antibrandable coup here, we’ll do our best to see you get this domain. In this case, we’re thinking of some kind of innovative fitness/gym app! It’s also a name that leaves itself open as a motivation/woundlicking venue for those who can’t cut your intense regime! So your client turnover will be less than most buy, fail, unsubcribe models in the fitness space.)
Swops.io (Rolls off the tongue and into the digital wallet; and then, erm, ultimately into your bank account. The curvy ‘o’ of the non-US English version of this word accelerating its cutesy roll)
Tikes.io (Kids, hopelessly dyslexic tigers)
From a purely aesthetic POV, the ‘cutesy’ style arguably works even better for brandable domains (because you get to spawn your own supercute words!):
Spoot.io (Candy for your eyes, you peer so deep the oo blinks back at you!)
Qush.io (Quantum qannabis startup, future soft furnishings tech giant extraordinaire.)
That’s it for the cutesy approach to .io branding. This series of articles on executing the perfect .io domain continues with an even more in-depth look at a third variation. The hallowed quirky-cutesy combination approach! All hail!
Read Part III of this series, IO Branding — The Cutesy-Quirky Approach.
*There is also some huge bias here simply because there are more nouns potentially available and humans the world over tend to cutesfy this part of their language the most. Don’t dare discount a delicious name like bubbly.io because it ain’t a noun!