This article first appeared on February 12, 2008.
Dear Aunty B,
My business is nearing 12 months old and I’ve learnt a truck load, particularly about the importance of branding and marketing.
I hate my business name; not only because it’s daggy but it doesn’t reflect my overall business. I then asked a communications professional for advice and I was right. My name stinks along with the logo, brochures etc. My associates also confirmed the same.
I’m only a new business and money is tight, but I’m committed to the business and getting things right.
Do I make the change when I become a company? Set up a new business and fade out the old? How do I change my name and when? And how important is branding and logo really?
(Please don’t disclose my name and poor visual ID)
Last question first. How important is branding and logo? Enormous. Think of it like this. Would you go off to a business meeting in tracksuit pants and a tank top? Or maybe in the most boring skirt and short you own? Or do you grab the high heels, the lipstick and head off to make a BIG impression? An impression that makes you stand out from your many, many competitors? An impression that signals who you are, what you are on about and who you want as clients?
It goes without saying, doesn’t it? Ditto the brand and logo. You can’t be there in person to wow potential clients when you advertise or spread your message, but your brand and logo are doing it for you. In the old days people took this literally; most businesses were named after the founder.
But now the name and branding has become paramount, especially on the internet. The name and branding should work hard to instantly signal your strategic positioning, your point of difference in the marketplace and communicate your emotional branding. (Do you want to be seen as cheeky and daring, or established and blue chip.)
Take SmartCompany, for example. We wanted an aspirational name (become a smart or smarter company), and a name that signals we were building a community. (You’re in smartcompany… Smart? Join the company.)
For another example look at JB Hi-Fi. That branding is very clever. It looks cheap, loud and last minute – exactly what the creators want the brand to signify.
When to change? As soon as possible. You say you are becoming a company. That’s a good time to change.
Now comes the hard part – finding a name that has not been taken. We spent two months (off and on) searching databases to come up with a name that all shareholders agreed worked. We then spent another few months getting the colours, look and feel of the logo and branding, and working on the registration and trademarks.
I know money is tight, but I have noticed that you are setting up an accounting business so marketing is probably not a core skill. It could well be worth your time to pay a graphic design company or advertising agency to come up with a name, logo and branding.
But make sure you have a very clear business and marketing brief to give them.
One more thing: Think big and be bold! Be determined to stand out and get noticed by the people you want to pay attention.
Your Aunty B
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Aunty B will be back very soon from her holiday with plenty more advice for the business forlorn.