Sunday, 9 December 2012

Choosing a business name and rebranding

When you have a small business, you need to keep your costs low during the start up phase in order to survive. Presenting yourself as a professional looking business is one thing you really should spend a little money getting right in the beginning. And if you didn't, then do think about a rebrand before you take your next step to grow.

Choosing a business name
I know this will sound harsh but i literally cringe when i hear a baby or childrens business named after children (and or pets). I'm sorry but it's a big no no in my book. It just screams "i had kids and decided to make a business out of it". In other words, it scream small and inexperienced. 

Yes ok i know there are loads of you out there saying "Well poo to you, i love the fact that i called my business after my kids". Time to build a bridge and read on.... 

So the one KEY thing you want to focus on when choosing a brand name is: Does my business name explain what the business does or makes? If someone was to read your business card and have to ask what you do, then you are not achieving your goal. A business name should always be easy to say, spellwrite & remember.

Here are some great examples of what not to do (these are made up names so as not to offend anyone.)

No No
Fork Bug - explains nothing about anything
iBot, iRock, iAnything - Don't jump on someone else's bandwagon
Sherryn Designs - Overused, screams that you aren't a real designer 
Milly and Poppy - naming after kids / pets screams small biz
Pugatetum - Unfamiliar to pronounce, no one will remember it to Google it
Chow Chow - (This is one is real, it's a friends band name) Naming it after something that already exists creates a linguistic nightmare on Google

And some good examples (these are real business examples)
The Commitment Company - A marriage celebrant business - simple, easy to remember and explains what it does 
Period Details - A store that sells federation period style homewares and products like period fireplaces
MiniMink - Children's mink fur accessories - Rolls off the tongue, does what it says on the tin - Uses the perfect keywords that their customers would type into Google
Hawthorn Car Repairs - If you are a business that mainly services a local area, add your suburb or city. It may sound boring but if it means you'll get customers easily, who cares!

OK so what about those huge companies that use made up names like Google and Ebay and Etsy i hear you say? Unless you are reinventing the wheel, i would stick to a finding a name that explains what you do. Google didn't get where it is today because they picked an obscure name, they got there by being the best at what they do and by having a great marketing plan. 

Random fact: The name Google comes from the word googal - the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. It signifies the large amount of information hits achievable by their search engine. It was misspelled on a check made out to them as "Google". Their original name for the search engine was "Backrub". Can you hear yourself saying "Backrub it"?

OK so you went ahead and picked a crappy name already and now you wish you could fix it but you feel like you will lose your whole customer base if you change it? False. Rebranding can (if done correctly) take your business to a new level. 

Rebranding is not necessarily changing your name, it might be just changing your logo, colour scheme and fonts used on all your marketing materials.  In order to rebrand effectively, it is important to get a graphic designer to do it with you. Trying to do it yourself if you have no training in graphic design and marketing WILL send you even further down that creek without a paddle. 

Case Study 1
Amy had a little business called Aimless Designs - handmade greeting cards. After discovering that blogging about her business and crazy life was taking off more than the cards were, she needed a new approach to her business that incorporated her blog about being a mum to 3 boys, her other passion cooking and her creative business. 

Amy decided on a new name for her blog "Adventures of a Crazy Mumma". As a blog name, it tells me exactly what this blog is going to be about - hilarious antics. So it gets my tick for a good name choice. 

Taking inspiration from Amy's facebook page, here's how we came up with a rebrand for Amy's business. 

Inspiration from Amy's facebook page

The new blog header

The new logo of the blog (perfectly square for social media)

I felt that Amy's creative business still needed to be kept a separate entity and so i developed a separate logo that she could use for her Aimless Designs facebook page. 

Old Logo
New logo

Notice that the new design is very similar to the old one so as not to completely confuse customers but looks fresh and professional. 

Case Study 2 
Milk and Honey Handmade Crafts had a great name but needed a fresher version of their logo and branding. They needed a new look and feel that still conveyed their old school, passionately handcrafted vibe and they still liked their colours. We continued the bee theme as it spoke well about the long processes they used to hand stitch theirs products. 

Old logo

Rebranded logo - (webstore banner version)
We also of course developed versions for facebook, for black and white documents etc to make each size and format workable and readable.  

As you can see, rebranding does not have to be a complete backflip from your current look. It's about bringing a brand to the next level, making it look professional & timeless and making it relevant for any current forms of marketing (eg social, web and print forms). 

And yep, here's where i shamelessly plug my graphic design services...

We have a great special on from now until Christmas. 

Book in any website or webstore design and get a free branding or rebranding package valued at $800. Projects can be done pre or post Christmas if needed, a deposit is just required before Christmas. Head to my graphics page for more details and prices.  

Ciao for now. 

Nicole Herrick
Head Honcho at Kids Style Hub

Founder of AADR
The Australian Alliance of Designers and Retailers