When it comes to your business, branding is one of the most important factors. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a multi-national conglomerate or a one-man band what your branding says about you is essential.

But it’s so much more than just your business name and logo, in fact, your branding can make or break a business, just ask KFC whose tagline of “finger licking good” was translated as “eat your fingers off” in China, or Coca-Cola who when first launched in China, was sometimes translated as “Bite The Wax Tadpole”.

In all seriousness though your brand is essentially your promise to your customers – it’s what sees you stand out from your competitors and what grabs the attention, so make sure it’s for the right reasons.

In the first of our blogs on branding, we’re going to take a look at your business name, how you choose it, what you need to consider and how you can keep it yours.

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Choosing the right name

Your business name is what you want people to remember and talk about but there are so many things to take into account.

Things can be memorable for so many reasons. They can be funny, or clever or they can just be a perfect association and fit the bill.

Keeping it simple is always a good option, so avoid long and difficultly spelt names to prevent unreturned search results or any potential confusion.

You also need to remember what your name will be used on and how it will be displayed in all of your branding. As well as a logo, you need to think about domain names, website headers and things as simple as just writing the company name down.

Pen Island might have seemed like a good idea when they came up with the name but www.penisland.net seems less so (except for the fact we’re talking about them, albeit for the wrong reason)!

So make sure you write it down, in lots of different fonts if you need to, and say it out loud to make sure it works too.

Use all of the free tools available

Before you fall in love with your name make sure you do a few simple checks, that way you can easily dismiss any which are already trademarked or those which don’t have any appropriate domain names available.

Trademarkia.com allows you to search all trademarked names worldwide, so if you’re planning on trading in other countries make sure you register your trademark there right from the start to save any headaches further down the line.

We can’t stress enough just how valuable Google’s free tools really are. We’ve talked before about Google Analytics but today it’s all about the Adwords Keyword Tool and Google Trends.

All businesses are set up to help solve some sort of problem so find out what your potential clients are searching for using the keyword tool and see whether you can incorporate any of the terms into your business name – or at least include them in your SEO and keywords.

Google trends also allows you to search through current and past trends so you can be ahead of the curve. It uses real-time data to help marketers gauge consumer search behaviours over time.

This one might seem a bit obvious but it’s also essential to run any proposed business names through the basic Google search engine to make sure a) no similar business names appear and b) nothing untoward pops up associated with the name!

It’s also worth running the name through google translate to make sure you’re not a laughing stock elsewhere in the world.

Click here to see some classic fails.

brandingWhat does it mean?

If you can secure a name that has a real meaning then it makes it easier to create the story for your branding and easier to remember. There’s also nothing worse than having to keep explaining the thinking behind a name – especially if it is just completely random!

In an ideal world, you want a name that gives enough away about your business and what it does to make people want to find out more. But not too generic that it’s vague and offers no real hook as potential customers don’t yet know they need you. We opted for Webthinking because it tells people we work on the web and that we are innovative and creative.

Hotmail, the brainchild of Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith got their name because it contained the letters HTML, referencing the HTML programming language used to help create the product.

Click here to read more on the subject.

Think long-term

Once you have decided on your name, snap up the domain name and any associated ones, all of the relevant social media handles and make sure you secure the trademark.

It’s easy at this stage to be thinking short-term after all you’re only at the naming stage so everything is new. But while it’s key to be relevant you don’t want to limit your business further down the line, thanks to including locality to your name.

So for example, if we had opted for Webthinking Wirral or Webthinking Sydney it could put off a lot of potential clients who are not in the same area, yet we can just easily and effectively work with clients thousands of miles away as we can those down the road.

The same can be said for any name that is too specific because it can make it harder to diversify. Going back to Pen Island, it’s obvious what they sell, but you wouldn’t expect them to sell anything else.

When Tesla launched they only trademarked and secured the domain names and social media accounts for Tesla Motors so when they moved into energy they were forced to buy, and no doubt spend over the odds, to get the relevant names

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Things to consider

• As well as appealing to you your name should also appeal to the type of customer you want to attract
• You want a name that conjures up familiar, pleasant images so you can create an emotional connection
• Don’t pick anything that’s too long or confusing
• Avoid anything that’s too clever or trendy as it will date quickly and there’s the concern it might become irrelevant.

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