Posted on 19 June 2007
The importance of branding is something as a small business owner I took too long to figure out. This has to be one of your top priorities from the get go. It’s hard when you are starting out to get people to buy something from you. Even if your company has just two employees, you need to make it seem like you are a much larger organization.. Business is all about perception so you need to make clients feel that you are successful and someone that can trust. The best way to do this is through branding.
Your company name, logo and slogan need should be present in all aspects of your company, from your store (should you have one) to your business cards, brochures, and company website. A lot of times your website is the first impression you make. First impressions are the most important. Since my company changed our branding in January, we have never experienced as many new leads and our sales grew 15% to 20% per quarter! Below are the steps I believe you need to take to make sure you have solid branding:
Step 1: Creating a company name
Strategy: As Scott Alan from About.com says “A great name is the beginning of a great brand.” Your company name doesn’t have to say what you do in it, this can be taken care of by your slogan (see step 3 below). But having something catchy is important. Think of the name “Google”, most people have no idea what it means. It was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner. A googol refers to the number represented by a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Google’s use of the term reflects their mission to organize the world’s immense (and seemingly infinite) amount of information and make it universally accessible and useful. Most people nowadays still don’t know this but their name has even become a verb – to google someone is to check them out online.
The hard part to picking a name is the research you need to do. You need to make sure you can get the domain name (see step 2 below) and you also need to make sure it is something you can trademark so nobody else can use it. I suggest you sit down with your team, lock yourself in a room and don’t come out until you have 10 or more, then take these 10 names and run them by as many friends as you can and get their feedback. Use a law firm like Fleit Kain Gibbons Gutman Bongini & Bianco P.L. to quickly handle your trademarking needs (contact Steve Bongini at 561-989-9811).
Result: Having a good company name helps people remember you, leading to success through word-of-mouth. Trademarking your company name helps you protect yourself.
Step 2: Selecting a domain
Strategy: Let’s face it. If you want to be a real business, you need a website. It is simply mandatory these days. Once you have agreed to a good company name as outlined in Step 1, choosing a domain is a lot easier. However in some cases, you might want to be searching at the same time as you are thinking about your company name. When you settle on a domain, use a service like godaddy.com to lock it in for a few years. Domains are so cheap these days buy a few even if you are not sure what you want and make sure to buy the other domain types, like .net and .biz to prevent potential competitors from snagging these.
Result: Your company domain is an incredibility important way people will find you.
Step 3: Keyword brainstorming
Strategy: When I first started my company, I once sat in a room with two consultants for 8 hours in a brainstorming session. The first thing they had me do was a great exercise that had me blurting out every word I wanted people to associate with my company. This process allowed us to figure out who we were and who we wanted to be. We settled on the following “Secure, corporate, hip, successful, reliable, energetic, leaders and confident.” I used these words in our mission statement, on our website, in brochures, and when talking with customers.
Result: Keywords helped me lay the foundation of my company by allowing me to explain who we were and why someone should do business with us. It made things easier when creating our logo, slogan and website.
I will continue tomorrow with part 2 of this very important post.