What Are Vanity Numbers?
Vanity numbers are telephone numbers which also spell something on the
phone keypad. Vanity numbers share one important property with vanity
license plates: they are much easier to remember than their just-as-unique
but random-looking non-vanity cousins.
Plain License Plate
Vanity License Plate
1 800 265 5328
Plain Phone Number
1 800 COLLECT
Vanity Phone Number
There are two reasons for this:
- you get to use the part of your brain that recognizes word shapes instead
of having to piece together individual letters
- one or two words are easier to remember than many random letters or digits,
especially if those words have some sort of significance to you
However, there are some important differences between what motivates somebody
to get vanity license plates and what motivates somebody to get a vanity phone
number (other than vanity, of course). Vanity phone numbers are used because
they are easy to remember. Vanity license plates do have the same quality, but
giving other motorists the improved ability to remember your license plate is
Would a bank robber chose to use a get-away vehicle with a vanity plate such as
"GOTCASH"? No, they would chose a license plate like "IZJ317", preferably one
covered in dust. Or was that "IJZ371"? Sorry, officer, I cant remember for sure...
When somebody goes through the trouble of disseminating information, they
usually want that information to be received, understood, and probably retained (the
probably most infamous exception to this rule being those health warnings on cigarette
packs). This is especially true of telephone numbers. When you go through
the trouble of giving out your telephone number verbally face to face, on a napkin,
over the phone, over the radio, on a business card, or in a marketing brochure or
advertisement, it is usally because you want to be
called or because you need to be reachable through that phone number.
The phone number IS the way to contact you. Make it easy to remember the phone
number and you will increase the probability of getting the call when it matters.
The world around us is full of symbolic marketing messages: brands,
logos, jingles, constantly competing with each other for our limited
brain space, trying to implant themselves in the recesses of our minds,
displacing the competition. This is where vanity numbers can give you
the edge over the competition. If you need a product or service and
a telephone is right in front of you, there are several vendors to
choose from, but you only remember the telephone number for one of
them -- who are you going to call (first)?
Simply put, you can either spend twice as much on advertising to make your
phone number stick, or you can chose a number that is twice as memorable.
On the other hand, maybe you just really really care about getting that
phone call for very personal reasons. You would want your firstborn to
remember YOUR phone number (as well as their own name) in case they get lost or
stranded somewhere. Here, your number may be "1-888-4RACHEL", and in your
child's head this number is competing for brain-space with Elmo's favourite
food. This is where personal vanity numbers can also help.
Most uses are somewhere in-between. Maybe you just care about keeping
your customers happy or your employees and family members safe by
giving them a number to call from the road which they do not need to