Building a brand for your business is much more than simply choosing a name and a catchy tagline. You’re creating an identity that encompasses far more than your logo or slogan. Still, if you’re successful, that name and image will forever identify you with the product or service you provide.
Every generation has the brands they identify with, and some will cross generational boundaries to live on in perpetuity. You’re going to want to think long and hard about the brand you build to make sure it is not only something you can live with forever, but also something that reflects your company culture and values. Take all of these factors into consideration when choosing your business name and logo. Your brand is your reputation, your calling card and your livelihood. It is all of this and more, but it all begins with a name.
Some products and services lend themselves to the name. Some producers and companies simply use their given names. There is only on Mrs. Fields or Famous Amos to use a cookie example, but John’s Jerky or Pat’0’s Specialty Candy isn’t exactly a dynamic attention-getter. You want something clever, but also something that will spark an association between the product and the name.
Before you decide on one name and get labels and business cards printed, try it out. Sit and marinate with it for a while, write it down, talk it around and get reaction on it from friends and family. You never know, someone might be able to improve upon your idea. Remember, you’0’re going to be married to it for a very long time, so make sure it’s “the one.”
Think of how your name will look on your product label. Is it easily pronounced? Will it be clear and easy to read in smaller print? Puns and innuendo can come across as clever, but can also be perceived as too cutesy, cliche’ or banal. Does the name lend itself to an image or logo? Stay away from anything that can be easily misinterpreted, as well as names that sound like other existing products in the marketplace. It may come across as gimmicky or co-dependant.
Sound Alike and Available Names
If you choose a name that resembles another product similar to yours, the perception will be negative. It will seem that you couldn’t come up with either an original product or an original name and this could kill your chances of success. You don’t want to be in any way associated with that name and brand. You want your reputation to stand on its own. Choose instead to see that other brand as the competition to beat, and go to the other end of the spectrum to choose a name that absolutely no one could associate with anything but your product or service.
As you’re trying out names for your company you can search them in a number of databases to see if they are already in use or available. One of the best places to start is with the Small Business Administration or you can visit the website for the Secretary of State for your particular location.
Reference: http://www.sos.ca.gov and http://sba.gov
Lock It Up
Once you’ve decided on your name and brand you must trademark it legally for it to be safe from use by anyone else. You should apply for your business license, DBA publication and any other industry requirements in that name. You can register as your given name DBA (doing business as) the company name.
Website Domain Name
Another important component of building your brand is securing the domain name to go with it. A company without a website in this day and time is doomed. This is another reason to emphasize creating an original and unique name that doesn’t sound like anything out there in your niche market. There are a number of websites that you can use to look up and register your domain name. Check out GoDaddy.com. They make it easy and affordable to register your domain name. It’s a good idea to have several alternatives so that if they are not the name you chose, they at least say something about your business. If you can’t get “rockincookies.com”, perhaps you can get “ourcookiesrock.com.” This step requires some thought and creativity.
Thousands of domain names are registered every day, so it’s a good idea to register yours as soon as possible or it may get registered by someone else who has the same idea or worse, intentionally registers the domain name to try and sell it to you at a higher price. Yikes! Yes, that does happen.
Lastly, and this may change in the future, try your best to register a .com instead of a .net or some other domain name extension (.info, .co, .biz, etc.). The .com extension has become the most popular and widely used domain name extension. Most likely, this is what potential customers will use when trying to find your website online. If the .com version of your domain name is for sale or a competitor’s website, well, you’ve probably lost that customer. It’s doubtful that they will try another extension to find you.
If you’re not currently utilizing social media for your company, the time to start is yesterday! Everyone who is anyone is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using social media is the best and perhaps the only way to build your brand in today’s marketplace. Print, radio and TV ads do have their place, but social media is now and the future for building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website. Today is all about connecting with your potential customers and creating a positive experience both on and offline. Doing this will build your brand and reputation, create a buzz and spread via word of mouth recommendations about your brand.
Once you’re out there, your name and reputation will grow and you’ll create a brand that will have it’s own life and identity, reflecting your product, company and culture for years to come.