Creating the perfect brand name should be the first step you take towards building a relationship with your customers.
The initial reaction of many first time entrepreneurs is to use a name that will tell your customers what sector you are in and what products you are selling but approaching the task in this way pigeon holes your identity and can restrict you from diversifying in the future. Building a successful brand requires an investment of considerable amounts of time and money and, if you do it well and create a strong following, it can become the biggest asset in your business so why not give yourself the best opportunity for flexibility by keeping your name generic and, if really necessary, adding a strap line to describe your specific products or services.
Brand recognition begins with your name so your first consideration should be to ensure that the name appeals to and engages your ideal customer and, as importantly, defines and communicates the culture and personality of your company.
Both of the above are equally dependant on the name you choose and its graphic representation, i.e. your logo, which you should engage a professional graphics designer to create for you (please don’t try and do this at home or that’s exactly what it will look like !) The graphic representation of your company must remain consistent through all your marketing activities from your product design, website and other sales communications so that your company identity and values become fixed and instantly recognisable in the minds of your customers.
In addition it helps if your name is short, memorable, visually attractive and of course available as a .com url. Since ‘Wow’ urls are getting harder and harder to come by you could also consider using a name that can be shortened so that going forwards your logo could be instantly recognisable when only your initials are used.
If you adopt these parameters as your first priorities you set yourself on the road to building a lifestyle brand that can grow rather than a firmly fixed association with a small range of products. The latter is fine if you are a one trick pony but not a good move if your real driving force is your entrepreneurial spirit.
Classic examples of working in this way come from companies such as ‘Amazon’. (initially associated only with books but now, as we all know, a mammoth consumer market place) ‘Virgin’ and of course ‘Apple’ who moved seamlessly from computers to music devices to mobile phones simply by using the ‘I’ word.(You can’t get shorter than that). Another example is Simon Woodroffe OBE’s ‘Yo’ brand (YoSushi, YoTel) he chose ‘Yo’ specifically because he knew it would serve as a recognisable but generic prefix for the various businesses he had in mind. By the time these companies chose to diversify from their original paths their customers had already bought into their brand culture, were part of their tribe and were happy to look at anything they wanted to sell.
The other popular choice of the new entrepreneur is to use their own name as a brand name for their range of products. If you are design led and are happy to be the face of and energy behind your brand this can work well (think ‘Jo Malone’, ‘Estee Lauder’ and ‘Chanel’) but identifying a brand closely with a personality can prove problematic should you ever wish to sell your company or, for what ever reason, not remain the power behind it. Think ‘Laura Ashley’. The world is scattered with strong signature brands that have lost their power when under new management.