Rich Gorman Shares Seven Steps for Start-Up Branding

Brand new companies and start-ups face innumerable challenges, but one of the most significant ones, according to Rich Gorman, is brand-building. While companies like Apple and Amazon.com have much stored-up goodwill and prestige to use in their favor, a brand new company has no such luxury. As such, it is imperative for start-ups to think critically—and to exercise discipline—as they seek to establish an identity among consumers, and to develop brand equity. A recent Business Insider article shares seven tips for creating a “killer” brand—and Rich Gorman has offered his own comments and thoughts on these brand-building tips.

Rich Gorman Opines on Best Brand-Building Practices

The first tip offered in the Business Insider article is to focus on a single brand. As the article affirms, most new companies are going to feel strapped for resources, no matter how well-funded they may be; resources for branding and marketing, in particular, will always seem to be in short supply. As such, entrepreneurs are smart to focus their efforts on building a single brand—the name of the company itself—rather than trying to develop separate brand identities for the company, for its products, for its chief executives, and so forth.

“There are several good reasons to avoid spreading yourself too thin with multi-pronged brand-building, and foremost among them is the reality that this will only diffuse your energy and your resources,” says Rich Gorman. “What’s more, coming out with five or ten different brand identities, right out of the gate, will likely confuse your consumers.”

Business Insider lists the iPad as an example of single-minded branding. Says the article, “folks just say they got an iPad, not that they bought an iPad 2, Wi-Fi + 3G, 16GB.”

Domain Dominance

The second tip offers is to ensure that the start-up can obtain the domain name—that is, the online URL—that corresponds with the desired brand name. “If you have a brand name but you cannot obtain the corresponding domain, that is going to leave your company dead in the water, before you even really get going,” Rich Gorman explains.

As such, start-ups that have yet to settle on a brand name should use the GoDaddy.com or Register.com domain registration tools as they brainstorm potential names—checking to ensure that the name they want is still available as a URL. “If you are torn between three or four options, get the domains for all of them,” Gorman advises. “This is an investment in the branding of your company, so it is money well spent.”

The Beauty of Simplicity

Business Insider goes on to affirm that the best brand names are usually short and memorable. “So if I’m launching a gaming company, BongoBaby would probably be preferable to Jim’s International Game Enterprises, Inc.,” the article notes.

Gorman brings up some related considerations. “The name should be easy to remember, but also easy to spell,” he says. “Especially in this age of search engines, a name that is easily or often misspelled is death for your brand. Avoid weird, intentional misspellings. Also, make sure people can pronounce the name easily, because word-of-mouth is still important.”

Three Paths

The article goes on to denote that, when it comes to branding, companies can choose from three basic paths—descriptive, evocative, or whimsical. “All three have their pros and their cons,” offers Rich Gorman.

The first path is the one in which the brand name offers a very straightforward and informative assessment of what the company actually does; 1-800-Flowers, Urban Outfitters, and WebMD are all listed as examples. The second is to choose a name that reveals little or nothing about what the company does, but does come across as evocative in some way. “Oracle is a great abstract-but-evocative brand name, evoking wisdom and an ability to predict the future,” says the article. “Another is Warby Parker, the online purveyor of eye glasses that intentionally chose a name evocative of old-line, preppy Eastern retailers (rather than a descriptive tag akin to LensCrafters).”

Third, companies can choose names that are simply memorable and unique, such as Zynga or Hulu.

The Committee Approach

The fifth tip from the article is to avoid branding by committee or by focus group. Rich Gorman agrees. “It is good to seek out opinions from trusted advisors, from friends, and especially from your business partners—but don’t take this egalitarian approach to the extent of voting on the company name,” he says. “This will land you with a name that is too vanilla and mundane to really prove effective.”

Consistency as the Key

Business Insider goes on to affirm the importance of consistency. Consistency in using and applying the brand is paramount, the article says. “Everything from the look and feel of your logo and graphics to the language you use to describe your company should be uniform and stable,” Gorman notes.

Brand Protection

The final note from Business Insider is to protect the brand. “Trademark the company name, logo, and tagline,” the article offers. “File with the US PTO for registered trademark status.” Adds Gorman, “It is also imperative to clearly display copyright notices on webpages and other online materials. The last thing you want it so invest this kind of time and strategy into building a brand, only to have that hard work essentially pulled out from under you.”

A Matter of Vision

The bottom line, according to Rich Gorman, is that new companies need to develop a strategic vision of how they want their brand to be portrayed—and then to stick to that vision. “What kind of company do you wish to be known as, and what attributes do you wish to convey to clients and consumers?” he asks. “That’s what branding is all about—and everything from your name to your URL to your online content reflects this broader vision.”

Rich Gorman is an online marketing and brand enhancement professional who has successfully built several thriving companies and online enterprises.

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