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Branding: choosing your name, color, and logo

Getting a business off of the ground can be a tremendous challenge, but branding is much more complicated than slapping up a sign with your name on it.

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Above: one example of a raw, unlaunched brand from a student at the Vancouver Film School.

Branding: Who are you?

When you close your eyes, what do you envision your company to express? Is it power and assertiveness, traditional and business oriented, or is it hip and modern, new age, or futuristic? By really seeing this, it will at least start a good conversation with a designer that you can build on. Come up with adjectives, read the thesaurus, and study some adverbs. They will all come in handy for both branding, deciding on a name, and defining your companies mission and vision statements.

Deciding on a name:

Something easy like your name? Depending on the name, it really might not be a great option. I can think of plenty of names where it really wouldn’t do a company any justice! And really, unless you already have a name that is recognized, being independent can be enough of a challenge as it is!

Something simple and straight forward? For example, in my line of work, you’ll see Dream Home Realty, My Home Realty, USA Realty, etc., all of which are acceptable, but again, how are you truly going to build an amazing brand with such an obvious name?

Something completely unassuming that says nothing about real estate? Careful here. While there are some AMAZING companies that have been created in all industries using this format, you have to NAIL this branding thing!

Some that come to mind: Apple (computers), Windows (computers), Zillow (real estate), Trulia (real estate), Amazon (e-retailer), Zappos (e-retailer), all of these companies had the true vision of a brand as well as leadership to overcome any weird name hurdle. I can easily remember people asking what a “zillow” was! You will not only be fighting to just simply get people to remember your industry but then after they are still trying to decipher your name, you then have a few seconds left before the stare goes completely blank, as to the type of company you have and why they should work with you!

Something niche? Again, eek! Don’t pin yourself to a niche unless you know that said niche is going to provide you with enough income and sales to justify only working that niche! Condo Only Realty, Any Neighborhood/City in America Realty or Foreclosure R Us Realty.

Picking colors:

What are you trying to evoke? Study up on color and how it influences the mood. Red ignites passion and portrays power. Blue is calming, yellow cheerful and green fresh and invigorating.

Figure out what you want people to “feel” when they see your signs, your cards and your marketing collateral. Surely, this will tie into both your name and logo design.

The hardest thing to start with any name, color or logo is going to be how to stand out. Will someone remember your sign because the house was for sale for so long or because there was something about a sign that really stood out, made them take note and actually wrote down your number to remember to call you because you connected to them?

What brands do you relate to in any industry? Look outside of the one you are in. There are thousands of companies that have built brands that people loved, and ask yourself why they are beloved. Study them and analyze even more how you are going to create the company of all companies.

Don’t try to please everyone, though. You will end up diluting your brand, alienating your sought after audience, and looking confused.

Amanda Lopez is a real estate broker and founder of Style House Realty in Baltimore, Md. She has worked in the real estate industry for over 6 years and prior to that studied advertising, branding and web design. Refusing to believe the real estate industry had to be bland and boring in design and appeal to everyone, she set out to bring some style and technology into the mix. Amanda can most likely be found with coffee that got cold, great shoes, her mind in the sky and her evernote app open.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Roger Noujeim

    August 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    The branding subject definitely hits home with me. Great article. If I may build on your piece, and hopefully you agree, one thing that one may also consider in developing a brand name is to also look at the brand’s value proposition and/or concept and aim to reflect those in the name. Think ‘Tide’ or ‘Huggies’. Can you figure what each of these names reflects? I bet you can. How about Pert Plus or Head & Shoulders?
     
    The key though is to acknowledge and realize that coming up with such a great name is not easy. It requires a lot of work and sometimes lots of money too, to develop and vet. But it is well worth it.

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…

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Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.

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Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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