Some of the early decisions in your new business, like picking a name or deciding on a logo, can be exciting. But you’ll want to know these tips for branding your new business before you get too far into the process.
1.Do Some Research on the People You Will Target
It may sound obvious to know who you are going to be targeting before you start branding your business, but this is an area that deserves some serious thought. The process of identifying the types of people you will be targeting to employ your business or buy your products doesn't have to be complicated, but it does demand some serious consideration.
For example, if you’re starting a business in a service industry, like landscaping, you need to consider the types of people or places who are going to employ you for landscape maintenance. Are you going to target homeowners, small businesses, corporate centers, or government agencies? What if you plan to start targeting one group, but think you might want to grow into another area? These concerns should be considered when deciding on how the branding of your company will look.
Part of this is keeping in mind the wording you will use when branding your small business. If you brand your landscaping business as Shadi Dayz Residential Lawn Care, it may be hard to later move into commercial properties. That's because the business name not only leaves out the word commercial, but also specifically says that your business specializes in residential lawn care. This will surely make it hard to convince a property manager that you’re equipped for maintaining something like a corporate center. When in doubt, leave out words that narrow your future prospects down too much.
This concept extends over into the logo and visual branding of your new company as well. If you are planning to open a restaurant, consider what types of patrons you’ll be targeting. Will you be marketing to the couple looking for adult beverages on a Friday night; the business partner meeting a new client for lunch; or the hungry commuter heading home from work? These issues need to be worked out thoroughly before moving forward with your branding.
Consider the two examples I designed below:
These two logos could technically be used for the same business: a BBQ restaurant. But wouldn’t each one attract a different clientele? Depending on the location of the restaurant, either logo may make or break the new business. And again, consider your ability to change these concepts in the future. The fancier looking logo with the letters CM, if not successful with the high-end crowd, pretty much has no chance changing direction and moving forward with a budget crowd. Likewise, the pig design would probably only have so much success moving towards a higher-end menu, if that’s where the business leads.
Of course, these things can be changed later—and your business should very much be flexible to growth—but it will make things much more difficult in the future, and definitely more costly. So start the branding of your new business by giving serious thought to the demographic you plan to serve. Research the area, the city, other businesses, public records, and even take a poll on Facebook to find out everything you need to know before you start spending money on branding.
2.Brand Your New Business Early
Now that you’ve considered the information from Tip #1, you probably have an idea about what the name of your new business might be. Or, at least, some idea of what direction the name will likely go in. But don’t get too set on anything before you do some critical research specifically on the possible name of the company.
Start by typing the name into a search engine like Google. Does another major company come up that has locations in every major city? Do they seem to be on top of their marketing game? If so, it may be hard to ever compete with them, since they are already using a similar business name and have a head start. This doesn't mean it's impossible to compete with an existing business with SEO, but putting the word McDonald's (even if it's your last name) in your business name is just a bad idea.
Going along with Tip #1, you will also want to consider the words that makes up your new business name. Using concepts like John’s Welding Shop says "trust and reliability" to a lot of people. But it may also say "small-time or amateurish" to other people. Keep this in mind when coming up with your ideas.
Likewise, consider making sure that the social media handles are available for your new business name. This is almost as essential as having a URL that matches your company (See Tip #4). Having to call your business @johnswelding12345 on Facebook is not a good look.
Have you wondered why modern companies have such funny names? Google, Tumblr, Yahoo, Reddit, Instagram.... If you think about it, these are nonsense words. But they are unique. The founders of these businesses want to guarantee that someone else didn't already have the rights to their company’s name. But more importantly, they wanted to know that they wouldn't have to compete with other websites in search results. One founder told Business Insider, "I wanted a nonsense word because I wanted to build the brand from scratch."
Now, I’m not recommending you name your clothing boutique “Lrzn Cloths” but coming up with something creative and unique is a must.
3.Decide on a Logo and Brand Colors
Deciding on a logo and brand colors for your new business early on may sound like jumping the gun a bit, but it really will help in the end. This is especially true if you’re starting your new business because you already have clients lined up. The importance here is consistency. You don’t want to create business cards, t-shirts, and banners, only to realize that you hate the colors you chose or that the logo you created doesn’t fit on anything nicely.
Now, this is not to say that you cannot change your logo or colors later. Many large, very successful companies do. In 2008, Walmart spent millions of dollars perfecting their new logo. They went from the square and dark Walmart to the new, lighter, curvier version we know today.
But notice they didn’t change the fundamentals. They kept the blue and the star-shape, because it’s recognizable for them. So when you choose your branding, be sure that at least the hues and general concepts are something you could live with for the life of your business.
4.Create a Unique Domain Name
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the first two tips: be sure to get a unique domain name (URL) as early as possible. Just as you want to come up with a unique name for your business, you also want to buy the domain name that matches as soon as possible.
Visit a website like GoDaddy.com to check if your desired URL is available. If you did your research from Tip #1, it should be. If it's available, buy it right away.
These domain purchasing websites often run promotions in which you can buy the URL for just 99 cents for the whole first year. Take advantage of this.
Bonus tip: You can skip a lot of the extra add-ons, but don’t skip the part where they offer domain privacy or WHOIS protection (different registrars refer to it by different names). This option hides your personal information from a public database known as WHOIS, which manages all the data of users who own a URL. It’s meant as a security protection so that random people can’t hide behind malicious websites. But it also means that sales people, loan companies, and all the other pop-up companies out there fishing for new business leads can see your business information too. For most domain registrar websites, the fee is less than $10 a year, so buy it!
Also, be sure that the domain you are buying is a secure address. Basically, make sure the URL begins with HTTPS and not the old HTTP. Most domain providers these days do this automatically, but some do not Not only do some browsers not even display old protocols, but more importantly, customers expect this when they visit a site. This is especially true if you expect your customers to enter any private information like emails, credit card numbers, shipping addresses, etc.
SiteSocialSEO - Help from a Real Person
If you have any questions, would like help branding your new business, or are interested in doing a rebrand on your existing business, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. My business is ran just like yours: hands on by real, hardworking people. When we brand your business, we will meet in person, talk on the phone, exchange texts, and/or meet any other way necessary to ensure we have a clear and easy dialogue. I look forward to hearing from you.