With sports betting being legalized in more and more states, we’re seeing a lot more of the companies that offer it. Let’s take a look at two of the biggest names out there: DraftKings and FanDuel.

The History

Both companies started in the fantasy sports space but have massively grown in the real (non-fantasy) sports-betting space, making it a healthy Between Two Names competition.

At first glance, they’re pretty similar. Both are composite names, comprised of two real words. Both have light sport references (draft, fan) and a suggestion of competition / winning (kings, duel). If they had both stayed in the fantasy space, I’d just call it a tie and probably wouldn’t bother thinking much about it, let alone writing about it.

But that’s not how it unfolded. DraftKings and FanDuel are both still big players in fantasy sports and now in actual sports betting. After the federal ban on sports betting was lifted, both companies grabbed the opportunity to expand their offerings as individual states began to legalize it. It was a natural fit, but also a major change. So, with the way these businesses evolved, who had the winning strategy?

The Contenders

Let’s take a look at DraftKings first. “Kings” here suggests that you’re going to do well, play wisely and come out on top. That works well for fantasy as well as sports betting. What about “Draft”? It’s a term that exists in both fantasy and real sports — that’s good. But it doesn’t actually make a ton of sense in the world of sports betting. The draft is an important part of fantasy sports competition, but it’s not as much of a key factor in sports betting. DraftKings has accounted for this by adding descriptive sub-names to the three arms of their business — Sportsbook, Fantasy and Casino — and that seems to provide the clarity they need. But with the benefit of hindsight, DraftKings was not the ideal name to encompass all this company has grown into.

How about our other contender, FanDuel? “Fan” speaks to sports fans, while “Duel” conveys competition. The name made perfect sense at launch as a name for a business where sports fans could compete in fantasy sports. That’s a win. But did it provide room for growth as they massively expanded into sportsbooks? Yup — it sure did. This name has great flexibility while also being suggestive of the offerings. Their core audience is still sports fans, and there’s still plenty of competition, whether it’s in a fantasy league or their sportsbook. FanDuel makes use of the same descriptors as DraftKings (Sportsbook, Fantasy and Casino — plus a couple others) to provide clarity and to support website navigation.

The Winner

Admittedly, neither DraftKings nor FanDuel work very well as names in the casino category. But from a brand perspective, sports and fantasy sports are the heart of both businesses, and their general online gambling comes across as secondary.

With the two names in a head-to-head matchup, my money is on FanDuel. It reflects the core of who they are while also allowing for growth.

The lesson here? When you’re naming your company, think big. What’s at the core of who you are? And in your wildest dreams, what could your business become? Ideally your name will represent the former without inhibiting the latter.

Jill Stanewick is a director of naming & strategy at Tanj.