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Business name and branding

Veteran

Ryan Brown Melbourne, FL

Greetings Everyone- Hope you all are looking forward to 2018 just as I am.

Question, does anyone on this platform have experience/recommendations for coming up with a business name and branding identity? I thought finalizing a business name would be easy, but I was sadly mistaken.

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Ryan

31 December 2017 19 replies Small Business

Answers

Advisor

Steve Miller Philadelphia, PA

I sent you a message. Let's connect some time. I'm a veteran & advisor, and I may be able to help or guide you on anything brand marketing/website related if you're still looking for some advice.

26 March 2018 Helpful answer

Advisor

Elliot Young Brooklyn, NY

Business names should identify what you do exactly or a soon on the reference to what you do. Should be 12-15 letters altogether. Also your business name and company name should not be the same. Small business owners make that mistake alot. One is for legal situations the other is for marketing. That's why they call it a DBA. It means "doing business as". Noone says "I'm going to the international house of pancakes but I have to stop by national City Bank of New York". They say " I'm headed to Citibank then I will meet you at IHOP." In fact both companies were forced to change their name. Customers started calling their companies by those names. So they changed them. I see small businesses add LLC or INC to their name in their advertising. That's stating the obvious and not for marketing your business. The same way people still use AOL, Hotmail, and Gmail for their business email addresses. That's very telling and wreaks home based business. Even if you are you should be .ore professional about what you do. Sets the tone of excellence as well as having a professional logo done. Your kigo should look at professional as AT&T, Coca Cola, and anyone else. Also make sure you check all social media that your name is available. If your name is xyzsports. Make sure facebook.com/xyzsports, YouTube.com/xyzsports, @xyzsports is available. Also if xyzsports.com is available do a whois lookup. This way your seamless across all media and when a search is done all your social properties come up and it's easy for people to find you. Also keeping to that 12 letter maximum will pay dividends with your email address. The easier it is to write and remember the better the communication will be. Your company name might be Millennium Sports LLC doing business as XYZ Sports. You have to keep in mind each word of your name is also a search parameter. So search the name first and see if you have competition in your industry or not. Doing the research ahead of time will always pay off in the end. When you look at your business ask the question " Would you buy from you?" and that should tell the story. You have to look the same as any Fortune 500 company to attract the right clients then deliver on quality service on budget and ahead of schedule. Do that you will never go out of business. I know, it's been 28yrs for me. Good luck.

Advisor

Carl Wideberg Naples, FL

Hi Ryan,

In choosing a name for your company you should focus on what domain names are available. Type into your search bar the various company names you are considering. You'll see which are taken and which are available. If taken you can offer to pay the current domain name owner.
Also choose a company name that is not political or gender specific. (Unless your product focuses on that group).
Good luck!
Carl

Veteran

Ryan Brown Melbourne, FL

Thank you all for the great feedback. I have a few names in which I am considering. Your input helped me greatly. Hopefully I will decide on one sooner than later.

Thanks,

Ryan

Advisor

Beth Ward Laramie, WY

Hi Ryan, thanks for your service. This is one area you can’t afford to skimp on. If your customers don’t understand what you offer, and don’t feel compelled to choose it, you won’t be in business anymore. Your brand and marketing is EVERYTHING in this day and age. It would be worth your time and money to consult a pro. Often the business community has free/more affordable expertise for new businesses. Good luck!

Veteran

Monica Martin Woodbridge, VA

One thing that helped me come up with my business name was looking at what my business was about, the character that I wanted to build my business around and words that stood out for me that was in relation to what my overall mission was. I planned this idea for years so I had a little more time, but growing up I would read the dictionary which is one of my go to's for ideas. Another option is join a few business groups on social media and craft groups because business names are always a topic in there and look at others businesses and what their actual business is. This can sometimes spark a fresh idea, and it did for me for a second business I've been working on. Your business name should not just fit the business but it should fit you as well. It is the brand that you will advertise on everything. Good luck to you and I hope my suggestions and the suggestions of many others will help you come up with something great.

Advisor

Paul Tusting Salt Lake City, UT

People often think of names as describing the business in question. My suggestion is for it to focus more on the personalities that you hope the business to have (which are closely tied to the mission of the business). Start with 3-5 personalities. Say, energetic, trusted, modern vs. innovative, ethical, forward thinking (which are a little harder for customers to connect to & are a little cliche). Everything related to your branding and identity revolves around those personalities, including your name. Someone mentioned it earlier, but there is a very pragmatic list of requirements on a name (URL availability, trademarks, how it will be used in various medias, etc.) but those are things that you work out before committing to something more than how to brainstorm in the beginning. Hope it is helpful, Paul
Oh, and the book Built to Last by Jim Collins might be helpful

Advisor

Mike Grayson Mckinney, TX

Also... having the right systems in place will help you build your brand faster than anything. Contact me and I'll send you a free copy of my book.

https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Business-Playbook-Mike-Grayson/dp/0981777511/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522612624&sr=8-2&keywords=mike+grayson

Advisor

Mike Grayson Mckinney, TX

You will use your brand in at least 5 different areas, so choose wisely.
1. Email address
2. Email signature
3. Business cards
4. Website
5. Social media profiles

First bit of advice. Don't over think it.

A brand is built. Google wasn't even a word 30 years ago, today it's a household name. Keep it simple. Make sure you can get the domain name.

Veteran

Gregg Langevin South Burlington, VT

As an expansion on what William said there is a group that is part of the SBA called the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a veteran they usually waiver all the costs and fees for their services. They are often located on or near universities and often have business and marketing students available who want to earn some experience that can help as well as training classes. Here's a link to get you started http://floridasbdc.org/.

Advisor

Brian Burress Cincinnati, OH

Ryan,

You've got some great input posted already. One thing I will add is to use a domain registrar like Go Daddy to search for web site names that correspond to the business name you hope to use or pertaining to any slogans that you may use.

Ideally, you can incorporate your actual filing name (assuming you are an LLC, etc registered with a state) into your website name. If the domain is open and available for a small fee, you may want to get it even if you aren't sure just to have it. Some domains that are deemed "highly sought after" may be owned, but available for sale for a higher fee. Obviously, you may not want to pursue something like that until you know for sure. Most importantly, if someone else is already using a name you may want it will give you an opportunity to rethink/reshape your company name into one for which a domain is available.

Good luck!

Advisor

Julia Rivera Burbank, CA

Hi Ryan,
The name may reveal itself if you do a little homework on your business.

Make a few lists:
words and phrases that describe what the business does
words that describe your company's personality and values - these are your brand attributes
words that describe your core customer
words or phrases that describe what your customer would say about your business

I do this exercise with companies to help them rebrand but they work well when starting from scratch as well. Reach out if you have more branding or marketing questions!

All the best to you,

Julia Rivera

Advisor

Alyson Iuchs Edwards, CA

Branding and the identity you develop around the brand is critical to your success.

Look through Trademarks site for other businesses that may use the same name as you:
https://www.uspto.gov/trademark

If you are looking for more ideas on brand identity, design, logos and more check out this guide on the brand development process:
https://www.worthylogos.com/blog/brand-development-process

Advisor

Rob Pianka Lancaster, PA

Hello Ryan. There are two things you get for free when you start a business.

1) Your local paper will most likely want to write an article about it.

and

2) People have to use the noun -- the name you give your business -- when they think or talk about you.

My favorite example of a good name is for a dentistry practice that opened up in my town where all the existing practices are named after the dentist him/herself: "Dr. Joe Dentist, DDS". The new guys, "Smilebuilderz", grabbed a lot of market share and own most of the growth in time. They do have some great policies -- they employ dentists and are open outside of work hours -- but the name itself has had a powerful effect. You chose them because they'll build your smile....

So my advice? Think of the name as a verb and think about what prospective customers think about, namely, "What's in it for me?"

Remember a great name is repeated EVERY TIME someone talks about your company. You can skip a load of advertising later by coming up with a great name.

Advisor

Philip Steffes Waterville, MN

Hi Ryan,

I have several suggestions and comments based on situations I've encountered when trying to come up with a business name.

There are many web sites that can help you with selecting a good business name, including
http://www.branditory.com/business-report.html?msclkid=6ea0648b03331916e6503ec0b999d1bd. The information found in these sites give you excellent practical suggestions, and may help you avoid eventually re-naming a poorly selected name. Renaming a company frequently happens and can be annoying/time consuming. It is worth while getting it right the first time.

Although it might be difficult to do, you should try to find a name that will endure. Including years (such as Technology 2018) or local or state names is usually a bad idea. Actually, using a year in the name of a company is always a bad idea. Using a location (such as Omaha Steaks) might work if the location is associated with the product you're selling. Most local names suggest a small business that does business in a limited geographic area. If that is your plan then using a local name as part of your company name makes sense, but if you have aspirations for growing your business beyond the area where it is started, or if you are planning to sell your product on the web, I suggest that you don't include a town, city or state in your company name.

You didn't say what geography or geographies your business will operate in. For the states where you plan to operate, you need to ensure the name you select is available in each such state. The rules for using a name are different in each state, so consulting an attorney would help. You can read and understand the rules if you're willing to do a little research. You can do so by contacting individual Secretary of State web sites. Each state handles name reviews differently, but you should be able to either check on-line or call the business section of the Secretary of State's office directly. For example, in Minnesota you can follow the directions for "Naming Your Business" found at http://www.sos.state.mn.us/business-liens/start-a-business/naming-your-business/. I believe every state has a similar site.

As stated in the Minnesota Sec of State web page, "to be accepted for filing, Business Names must be different by at least one letter or numeral from other names already on file." The same rule likely applies to each State.

When considering a name you should consider some practical issues. If you are considering more than one word in your business name, or if you are considering using an acronym, you should think about the ease of reference and the ease of keying the name. Some companies use strange combinations of upper and lower case names or acronyms. If possible I suggest using a name that your customers and employees will find easy to say, easy to remember, and easy to type. It sounds like a small matter, I have seen companies change their original name because the name became too annoying to use.

I recommend staying away from using an individual's name as part or all of a company name. Doing so can become complicated if the individual whose name is used eventually leaves the company. There are, of course, exceptions. I worked for a company named "Cray" for many years. The name was associated with an industry giant (Seymour Cray), and it remains a powerful trademark after more than 40 years. But eventually Mr. Cray left the company and started a new company that also featured "Cray" in the company name. It was a bit confusing for a while. While there are many exceptions (e.g. Dell, Anheuser Bush, John Deere, Tesla), you'll only hear about the famous exceptions - not about all the others that failed to catch on.

If you plan to market your product internationally you need to check in each country to ensure (1) the name you've selected can be used in the country, and (2) the name doesn't have unexpected negative connotations in one or more countries. One of the companies I'm familiar with selected a 4 letter acronym for use internationally. The acronym didn't officially stand for anything; however, in one of the countries where the product was planned to be sold, the acronym was identical to the acronym used by the media for a well-known terrorist organization. Not surprisingly, there were no sales of the company's product in that country. While you can select and register a company name in the US without using an attorney (although it will be easier if you do), it is imperative that you get formal legal help in any foreign country where you plan to sell your product.

I don't know if this is the type of advice you're looking for, but I'd be glad to answer any questions if you contact me at steffeslaw@frontier.com.

Best wishes for a successful company launch.

Advisor

Brian Richardson Columbus, IN

Ryan,
Good question. But you might want to back up a little and do some initial processing of your business even before you name it. Since it's new you won't have the advantage of experience, but that doesn't mean you can't get started.

1. Who is your customer? How much do you know about them? What are their pain points and does your product/service address that specific pain point?

2. What is your positioning statement? This one will take some work and thought. Where will you plant your flag? What market are you in and how will you set yourself apart from the competition? Here is an article I recently wrote on positioning statements. http://www.thecompanyproject.com/write-positioning-statement

3. Create a portfolio of marketing messages that you can reuse in different platforms. It will be important to be able to replicate your messaging so you can start to build a brand.

Remember, a brand is your outward appearance of your company...name, logo, website look/feel, voice and how you are viewed by others.

But if you don't have a good positioning statement, it will be more difficult to create a brand.

Advisor

Barry Sosnick Greenlawn, NY

The first question is which type of business and who are your customers? Is your business consumer-oriented (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B). The earlier reply about emotions is more relevant for B2C, but B2B should focus on solutions.

Advisor

Barron Evans Ann Arbor, MI

Ryan... foremost, thank you for your service, and I applaud your efforts to launch a business. I have a background (in part) in the branding and communications industry. While I could offer a lot of 'do this / do that' sort of suggestions, I like this compilation from this UK small business brand consultant:
https://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing-strategy/branding/ten-ways-to-build-a-brand-for-your-small-business

Synthesizing this, coupled with my customer experience expertise ... is to start with the emotion you want your brand to evoke in the RELEVANT market segment ... as people buy what they 'feel' good about. Then support the decision by what they 'think' about it (e.g., the features, benefits, etc.). And as you're likely already aware, use 'objective' focus groups (e.g., not your friends, supporters) to test the top 2-3 options that come out of the above.

Best wishes for BIG SUCCESS!

Advisor

William Huber Vienna, VA

Hi Ryan,
Have you contacted the Small Business Administration for help? That's where I would start first. It seems they would be able to assist you with those questions.

Take care,
William

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