Wordle Alternatives Teach A Valuable Lesson On Branding

Who doesn’t love Wordle? The word game has become so popular that a number of alternative games using a similar format have emerged.

Worldle – Geography based game

Heardle – (aka the musical Wordle game) gives you a clip from a popular song and asks you to guess it

SWordle – Star Wars based word game

Artle – Guess works of art sponsored by the National Gallery of Art

…and many more.

Many of these knockoffs have similar names and there is a reason for that. The people who named them are using a very common naming practice that is based on a well-known cognitive bias: the Anchoring Effect.

Allow me to explain.

First, most of the names are anchored with the “-dle” suffix. This essentially tells potential users to expect a gaming format like Wordle where players get a fixed number of attempts to guess a five-letter word (or map or song or work of art), with feedback given for each guess. By using the “-dle” suffix as an anchor in the name, people communicate a lot about their Wordle variant with just a few letters.

Second, the other part of the name communicates what is unique about the game. SWordle has a dictionary that only contains words associated with Star Wars. Artle is focused on art.

The end result creates a name that is different (and perhaps a little weird) but also at the same time is familiar enough to trigger a connection in the brain. For example, Worldle uses “World” + “dle” to signify that the game will use the “World” (e.g., global maps) in a Wordle game format.

Well done! Brilliant!

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