What is a brand though? For many of us, the word brand calls to mind two things: a name and a logo. In fact though, these are not what is most important about your brand and neither is what you need to consider first when you set out to create your brand.
So what is most important?
That would be your ‘mission statement’. This is the single most important part of your branding and once you’ve worked this out, everything else should follow out from there simply.
Let’s start there then!
Creating Your Mission Statement
A mission statement is simply a short sentence or two that clearly defines what you do and why you do it. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to look at some of the more famous examples…
Our mission is: To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit. To inspire moments of optimism and happiness through our brands and actions.
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
It’s our goal to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything online. Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
What do these statements all have in common? All of them are rather grand, all of them are rather vague and all of them are inspiring. They tend to focus on the ‘why’ and then the ‘how’ instead of the ‘what’.
So let’s say that you have a company that makes socks. Sure, you could call yourself ‘Socks Ltd’ and be done with it, but if you wanted to create something a bit more inspiring, then you would begin with your mission statement. Your mission statement is not to make socks. Your mission statement is to warm people’s feet.
And in doing so? Maybe it’s to help them feel cosy and happy in their own bodies. So maybe you change your company name to ‘WarmSocks’ and your mission statement would be as follows:
To warm people’s feet and help them feel comfortable in their bodies throughout the day.
Now you have a real promise that people can get behind, you have something much more exciting and you have something far more marketable. This can motivate your staff and it can help you to envision ideas for future products and marketing campaigns. You see the difference?
So spend some time reflecting on your own brand and your own business. What was it that drew you to this industry in the first place? What is it that you find so exciting about it? How can you inspire others to feel the same way you do?
Use this to create your one or two sentence mission statement and from there you’ll be able to start coming up with the other aspects of your brand.
And if you struggle to identify what the drive behind your business is, then you can always try using some exercises like OKR. This stands for ‘Objectives and Key Results’ and is a technique used by companies like Google, LinkedIn and Intel. Here you simply identify what your broader objectives are and then break these down into smaller ‘key results’. There’s a tool to help you do this over at Weekdone.com (https://weekdone.com/resources/objectives-key-results).
Choosing Your Company Name
Now you have your mission statement, you can start thinking about your company name. This should be something that describes what your business does but also evokes something more interesting and more exciting.
If you’re struggling to come up with anything, then you could try creating a mind map and adding related words and things you like the sounds of. From there you can try combining them in interesting ways, or using synonyms/portmanteaus etc. For instance, ‘Intel’ is related to the fact that the chips the company creates give computers
But then you have ‘Apple’ which is completely unrelated – in this case the assumption is that this would evoke the image of something fresh and clean. Steve Jobs said it was inspired by the fact that he was on a fruitarian diet and thought the word sounded ‘fun, spirited and not intimidating’.
So don’t just think about the mechanical parts of your business, but also the mission statement and the emotions you want to evoke.
It’s a good idea to then come up with a few names and to try surveying your friends and relatives to see which they think is best. Remember, you name your business for your customers – not for yourself!
Also important is to make sure your business name isn’t trademarked which you can do at the US Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/trademark). You might also want to apply for a trademark yourself in future, which ensures that no one can use your company name (you can also trademark your logo).
Another good tip is to check for whether the domain name is available for your chosen business name and think a little about things like SEO – how easy would it be for someone to search and find your business online? Calling yourself ‘Pear’ just wouldn’t work these days – Pear.com would be taken and you’d have an incredibly hard time showing up in searches.
Unfortunately, you need to be a little practical about your business name as well as thinking about what evokes the best feelings!