What is a Brand and How to Build One?

Ever had a friend say to you, “please get me a Coke,” then proceed to tell you what type of soda they want?  Or how about, “hey, can you hand me a Kleenex” as they point to a box of tissues.  Here in Dallas, the brand names Coke and Kleenex have grown and become so recognizable that people no longer use the general product names, but instead use the iconic brand names for reference.  In starting a new business or launching a new venture it can be difficult to determine what name best identifies your company or the product you are selling—what name will alert the world as to who you are and what you are bringing to the market place.  A good brand name not only represents the product or service being provided, but also impacts your logo and marketing strategy.  And to me a great brand name goes a step further and embodies the “Company’s promise,” telling the customer what to expect from the goods you offer.  But before you can think about brand awareness and brand loyalty, how do you choose the best brand name?

These questions should help you determine the right brand name:

1. Does the brand name IDENTIFY my goods?  The brand name should give a clear message as to what’s going on in your shop.  Think about a business called, “City Bridge Hair Salon.”  Without even researching this business I already know it’s a hair salon and it’s likely in the city, near a bridge.  You setup an immediate hurdle for yourself if customers are confused as to what you are offering.  It is possible to overcome the hurdle with focused marketing, but why make it harder on yourself than you need to?

2. Is the brand name AVAILABLE for use?  Here in Texas, as in every state, people must register their business name.  Check with the Texas Secretary of State’s office and the county clerk’s office for the applicable county where you are going to operate and see if anyone else is using the brand name you have decided on (in Dallas County, in Collin County, and in Denton County).  It is also wise to check local and national trademark registers; none of us want to get a cease and desist letter in the mail alleging that you are using someone else’s brand name or trademark.  

3. What REACTION will my brand name cause?  It is great if your brand name is catchy or really sticks in people’s heads, but you do not want to have a brand name that is offensive, hard to say, or just too long.  I’m sure the folks at Beaner’s Coffee in Michigan thought they had a winner, but in 2007 they spent an extensive amount of money to change their name to Biggby Coffee and revamp their over 77 franchises, because of backlash from the Hispanic community.  Do a bit of polling and ask your friends, family, and perhaps some neutral third parties to see if the brand name that sounds like a humdinger to you is really ringing the bell.

4. Can I build CONTENT with my brand name?  In today’s world with extensive online shopping and social media forums it may save you some future aggravation to make sure that the brand name you chose can, at the least, be used for your URL (internet address), facebook page, and twitter handle.  Ideally you would like to have uniformity across all channels of communication that you use to market your brand so your customers quickly know the content is coming from you.

So keep these questions in mind as you determine your brand name and checkout SourceLinkDallas’ Battle of the Brands as we let you, the public, decide Dallas’ favorite brand.