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Brand Naming: How to Choose a Name That Works For You, Not Against You

This is an excerpt of the book I’m working on, “Be Free: How to Create a Solid Online Business Platform in 30 Days.”  It’ll be available FREE in all formats to all current subscribers, up until the day of the launch (soon!).  Sign up above or below to be on the list!

 

Day 8: Brand Naming 101

 

Ready for week 2?  Here we go!

 

We’ll be setting up an online presence and looking to establish, or at least reserve, an identity online.

 

Don’t fret too much about designing your online platform now or about minor details.  They can all be tweaked during the earlier production stages.  Redesigning is a much bigger deal once you’re established, so feel free to experiment early on and find out what works best for you.

 

Seek to emulate (not copy!) the best qualities of your competition.  It’s not only in bad taste to do so, but it may land you in legal trouble and may even get your blog shut down.

 

What we’ll do today is decide on your brand naming strategy, specifically, choosing a domain name and reserving your brand name in all the relevant places.

 

Choosing a Brand Name:  Going Personal or Corporate?

 

 

With a business name, you can go one of two ways with it.

 

If your business is more geared towards the consulting side you probably will do well to establish your own name as your brand.  Think “(Your Name)’s Guide to X.”  This works well if you have name recognition in your field.

 

If you have a unique name, this it may also be a good choice.  Provided of course that you don’t have a name that’s confusing and/or difficult to spell.

 

On the flip side, if your name is too common, like Sue Smith for example, you may have a hard time making your name a brand.  Chances are, someone has already jumped ahead of you.

 

Try “yourname”.com and see what comes up.  I was able to reserve mine, RichPolanco.com, and have it pointing to UnwireMe.com’s homepage.  Your name as a domain name can really be pointed anywhere, such as an “About” page on your main site, or a LinkedIn profile, for example.

 

Planning for the Future

 

A drawback of using your own name is that it limits your ability to sell your business should you decide to pursue other ideas and businesses later and want to sell it.

 

If you decide to grow a business to the point that you need to assemble a team to work with, it is best to go in a different direction.  By not choosing your personal name as your brand, it’s possible to separate yourself from the business and allow someone else to take over in the future.

 

Keep this in mind, as you may want to think about putting mechanisms in place to ensure that the business keeps running without you.  A business that can function without your direct input can be a means to provide for your family should something happen to you that leaves you incapable of working.

 

I know the above may sound a bit depressing, but it’s better to think of things like that early on and plan your strategy accordingly.

 

Always think of an exit strategy and plan to remove yourself as a “single point of failure.”  A business that doesn’t depend on you exclusively to run leaves you more time to do other things, to go on adventures and pursue other ideas for a change.

 

What’s Your Idea?

 

A great brand naming option is to come up with a domain name that conveys what you’re about, your concept or core idea.

 

I’d like to think that the name I chose, UnwireMe.com, accomplishes this by conveying freedom and independence.  A great name helps others associate your brand quickly with something they can relate to in a positive way.

 

If you have to explain what your name means, or its most well-known meaning is the OPPOSITE of what you’re trying to convey, I suggest going back to the drawing board for a better name. Not saying it won’t work, but you’re just setting yourself up for a harder climb.

 

That said, in life most rules are meant to be broken.  Other businesses have successfully used words or phrases that have nothing to do with their business (think Yahoo!, Starbucks, Tumblr, Squidoo, etc) and they’ve totally owned them by making them their own.

 

What works or doesn’t is a matter of sound business planning and how hard you want to work at making your brand known to the world.  You may just end up inventing the next verb with your company name, like Google did (we don’t search the web anymore, we google stuff).

 

One last thing of note is to be careful about locking your name to a specific niche, if you can help it.  Maybe locking into your niche is exactly what you want, but do so because it’s what you want to do, not by accident.

 

For example, think of a business that starts out selling lipstick and names itself “Mary’s Lipstick Company.”  What happens when Mary wants to branch out into other products or services?

 

This is the same reason why Apple no longer calls itself “Apple Computers.” They realized they’re far more than a computer manufacturer and needed to change their name to reflect that.

 

Time for Action

 

Once you have decided on a name that you like, it’s time to act FAST!  A smart branding strategy aims to make your online presence as visible to as many potential clients or audience members as possible.  The more eyeballs that see and recognize your brand, the more effective your reach.

 

Checking the availability of a name for your business across many platforms used to be a tedious process, but websites like NameChk.com and KnowEm.com tell you at a glance whether your name is available and on which social networks.

 

I prefer NameChk because of ease of use.  NameChk will tell you what domain names are available and what social networks are you free to register them.

 

KnowEm.com will actually do the tedious work of registering your brand name across all sites, creating the profile creation and adding photos.  This service is offered for a fee.

 

Once you have set on a name, register across as many platforms as you may think it’s useful.  Definitely register your brand name on the popular ones and the ones you most use.

 

For example, it may not be in your plans to produce video, but you may get an idea later that may require posting YouTube videos.  If you don’t register right away, your name might not be available in the future.

 

Aim for brand naming consistency across the board, but know that it’s OK to mix up your name and business name if necessary.  This depends on the social platform and what you’re trying to accomplish with it.

 

Engagement, Promotion, or Both?

 

Are you looking to engage others, or promote the business?

 

For Twitter, for example, I use my personal name, not a variation of my business name.  For my FaceBook fan-page, I stick to a variation of the business name.  Remember, people engage much easier with other people than they do with a business.

 

Base your decision on whether you want personal interaction, or want to use it for promotion.  If you go with something other than your personal name, at least reserve your given name anyway.  This gives you the option to switch if you want to do so later.

 

Checklist For Today:

 

Using your own name? Jump on NameChk.com or KnowEm.com and see what’s available.

 

Creating a brand name?  Do these three steps:

 

#1 –  Do a quick Google search of your brand name to see what comes up.  If it’s a registered trademark or belongs to another business, tweak the name and search Google again.

 

Don’t infringe on somebody else’s name, or you may be forced to change it in the future.  All your efforts to build it up would’ve then been for nothing.

 

#2 –  Ask other people what’s the first thing they think of when they hear your brand name.  Do they have a positive association, neutral, or does it have negative connotations?  Positive is ideal and neutral means you have to work a bit more to build it up.  Discard it if it’s mostly negative.

 

#3 –  Get on NameChk and/or KnowEm and find out if it’s available! The only thing that will cost anything is registering the domain name.  Everything else is free for you to grab.

 

Even if you’re deciding between two names, grab them both on the most popular networks (FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)

 

What’s Next for Tomorrow?

 

We’re going live!

 

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at how to choose and set-up a domain name, install WordPress, and choose a great looking theme.

 

Don’t worry about the fact that you’re going live, as you’ll have hardly any visitors the first week.  Only those who you give your domain name to will be able to check it out.

 

That way, you’ll be able to work on it and set it up correctly, just the way you like it.

 

For now… have fun creating those profiles!

 

Why did you choose your current brand name?  I’d love to hear your story!

About Rich Polanco

Fan of dogs + all things tech. Love a great pizza. My goal is not to travel to every country in the world. I only want to get to know my favorite ones REALLY well. Check out the big bio here. Follow @RichPolanco and connect on Facebook.
Currently exploring: Guatemala.

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