Ms. Zfat equates the importance of Wi-Fi branding to screen names 15 years ago. “There were always people who were straightforward and then others who were much more creative and detail focused,” she said, citing aliases like Flirty4u and Sporty88.
The appeal of the witty Wi-Fi label crosses generations. Paige Morgan-Foy, 66, director of the dance program at the Teaching Studios at Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C., named her network PointeToMe, as in the ballet shoe. “Since I teach dance, I wanted to pick something easy for me to remember,” she said.
Her husband, David Foy, 67, a semiretired yacht mechanic, owns a house in Germanton, N.C. His Wi-Fi, GoatHill1, is inspired by its surroundings. “The man that lives across the street rented part of our land and has his goats on it,” Ms. Morgan-Foy said.
But being direct about their internet home bases is better for some families than using imaginative descriptions. Barbara De Berry, 55, a retired real estate relocation director in Wayne, N.J., uses the title deberry (no space), and her home phone number — yes, some people still have phones that plug into the wall — as the password, to gain web access. “My husband did it. People know it’s us,” Mrs. De Berry said. “It’s easy to remember.”
Some individuals and businesses prefer to conceal creatively, rather than extend connection. Ruairi Curtin, 40, tries to make internet service at the Penrose, a bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that he co-owns, not so obvious. “Our internal network is crownalley, the name of our L.L.C., so it’s not easily found by patrons,” he Curtin said. “We want the bar to be a social place for good old conversation, not where people get buried in their technical devices.”
But Leah Potkin, the so-called director of people at SpotHero, a parking reservation app in Chicago, believes her lack of a good Wi-Fi name is actually a conversation inhibitor. Ms. Potkin, 27, was not home during internet installation, leaving her with a random combination of 15 letters, numbers and dashes, and an assigned 13-character password she kept buried in a drawer. “Both are annoying to explain,” said Ms. Potkin, who feels judged by her guests.
The customization of a Wi-Fi name, it seems, solidifies the personality of a place.
“It’s an extension of how you want your home to be perceived. The attention to detail you put into decorating your home, you put into naming your network,” said Ms. Zfat, who originally named hers YellowMango, after the paint color in her kitchen. Now it’s PersoNatalie. “It’s sort of the name of your house, is it not?”