According to the Federal Communications Commision, a vanity number is "a toll-free telephone number that also spells a person’s or company’s name, or spells a word or acronym that is chosen by the subscriber, such as 1-800-FLOWERS or 1-888-NEW-CARS." Mountains of data exist reinforcing that vanity numbers work. They are easier for customers to remember, they aid in branding and they can be tracked through marketing analytics. But did you know that vanity numbers can boost brand image perhaps more quickly and universally than any other the single purchase a business can make? Consider the following:
On February 3, 1985, the Los Angeles Times published an article chronicling the arrival of a peculiar new phenomenon that businesses of all sizes were beginning to employ with a remarkable degree of effectiveness: the vanity phone number. In 1985 — at the very dawn of the vanity number's arrival — it was already clear that vanity numbers were easier for customers to remember, that they outpolled traditional toll-free numbers in calls received and, perhaps most importantly, that vanity numbers went a long way to prop up the image of a business and enhance its image and credibility.
More than a quarter century after the LA Times article was published, ABC News released a report highlighting not only the continued success of vanity numbers — so successful, in fact, that they were becoming difficult to obtain — but also noting that they improved brand image and business credibility. By the time the report was released, everyone already knew that vanity numbers were much easier to remember when heard or seen by customers who weren't in a position to write them down.
But another powerful benefit — one that is more subtle and often more difficult to measure — is the bump in brand and business credibility associated with a vanity number. Although vanity numbers don't cost any more to obtain than traditional numbers, many customers associate them with well-established corporations. When all a customer knows about a business is its phone number, a vanity number can do more than a regular toll-free number to give the impression of a stable, thriving enterprise.
Vanity numbers can also extend reach and presence in a business's specific industry. They have shown to lead to an increase in both word-of-mouth referrals and repeat customers. Vanity numbers are also incredibly easy to track for metrics and analytics. The acquisition of several vanity numbers, therefore, can paint a clear picture for a business about which number works, and which number works even better in their marketing and advertising campaigns.
Vanity numbers were a hit — and a success — almost immediately after their arrival more than a quarter century ago. Businesses realized early on that vanity numbers served the same essential function as traditional toll-free numbers — to give customers a way to call a business without incurring charges — but with a range of added bonuses. Vanity numbers are easier to remember, they poll better in rate-of-call studies and they're easy to track with marketing analytics. Perhaps most importantly, vanity numbers can bolster a business's image and give the perception of credibility and longevity — all for the same cost of a regular toll-free number.