Naming and Branding Your New Business
You have a clever name idea up your sleeve - but what if the domain is already taken, or the social media username is claimed? That’s the worst. BEFORE you hire a graphic designer for your logo and branding, MAKE SURE your name is available! For 20 years, I've been helping new businesses get up and running. Here are 6 steps to naming your business and launching your brand, so you can start NEW with the right foundation.
STEP 1 : Game of Names - THE MOST important step
(see also step 6 for more guidance)
The best place to start (and brainstorm!) is namecheckr
YOU MUST MAKE SURE the domain, facebook, twitter, and instagram usernames are available, otherwise, it’s game over, start over. (youtube/vimeo is also a good bet as video marketing is very important). While some industries like home decor, architecture, fashion, etc. will benefit from having a pinterest presence, it isn’t necessary for some companies. However, if you ARE in that industry - MAKE SURE pinterest is available.
You want to be able to say something like “follow me” or “join me” at ONE local, so @yourname needs to be the same across the board.
Example Idea: Oo La Latte (a brick and mortar coffee shop)
Everything looks good except pinterest. Is this a dealbreaker? Will you be pinning a lot about coffee or coffee shops - will you gain customers/friends/sales as a result? You decide if pinterest is an important platform for your business. If it is and the username isn’t available - start over, friend - sorry, womp womp.
STEP 2 : Claim that Name (a 3 part series)
Now that you’ve ticked all the boxes, claim that name!
a. create an account via gmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
b. find a web hosting site like godaddy and grab the domain - create the account using the email@example.com
c. once you have the domain, use their web email services to create a professional email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org and have that forward to your gmail account. (With godaddy, you can have several free email addresses that you can forward).
STEP 3: User that Name (a 4 part series)
Important tip: set everything to private and don’t follow people or or send notifications (just skip these steps) until you have your logo/branding (see step 4) you can set it to public once you’re ready to launch your social media presence.
a. create a facebook page for oolalatte. once you are up and running and have at least 25 likes, you can add an @username to your profile. (It is also recommended to create a facebook group, as you can better interact with your followers via a group than a page)
b. create an istagram profile for oolalatte
c. create youtube and vimeo channels for oolalatte
d. if you have a business that will use pinterest, you know what to do - create that profile!
STEP 4: Hire that Designer (like me!)
Now that you’ve got your foundation - source local graphic design firms, or higher a freelance designer (ahem, like me!) and put them to work on your branding. You will want to insist on (at the very least) a logo, a social media profile icon, a color scheme, and business card design. Here is an example:
STEP 5: It’s Go Time
Upload your branding to all the social media sites.
For your website - until you have that truly up an running, here are two ideas:
a. Forward your website to your instagram so that people can interact with your progress for opening up shop. Then you can alert them when your website/shop is up and running!
b. Use a creative template website service like SQUARESPACE, SHOPIFY, or WIX, and create a basic landing page to collect emails - offer them their first free cup of joe, or a percentage off for when you open.
STEP 6: Trademark that Baby (and other boring business stuff)
You’ve done the work, now protect your baby. Keep in mind that names like Oo La Latte are easily trademarkable, as it is fanciful, arbitrary, and suggestive. But you couldn’t trademark something like ‘The Coffee Shop’ - Anyone could use that same name... because it is ‘merely descriptive’ of the business that it represents. “The Coffee Shop” could not lay claim to that name being Trademarked.
For help with this, I recommend contacting a trademark lawyer, I like to use the expertise at Gatehouse Law.
Additionally, you will want to register your business with your state - they will want to collect income tax and you will want the write offs as you move towards launch.