In part one of this series on Branding in the last issue of Curve, we defined the essence of your company.

The company name is probably the most important element of your marketing/branding strategy. In one simple word or expression, you have communicated to your market your corporate essence.

The name of the company may arise organically without the need of structured vision, culture, composition defining. If more than one director is involved in the branding process, the name may arise after brainstorming, debate, discussion, negotiation, and eventual co-operation.

There are plenty of motivations behind the name of a company, and this intrinsically reflects the company’s personality.

Surnames...

e.g. Ogilvy & Mather; Deloittes, Touche Thomatsu, Hewlett Packard

Typically the domain of service companies from accountancy and legal practices to design and architectural partnerships, the name reflects the original assets – the directors who created them. Similarly, if you’re a one-man band, using your name is a simple way of creating a reputation and image of you and the entity you embody.

Way out funky names:

Google; Monster, Mooks, Gorilla, Fatbrain, Chocolate Starfish

The dotcom and Gen-X era heralded the birth of the ‘out there’ name. More likely to be branding an advertising, multimedia, hi-tech, rock group, or brand of surfwear, it would be a rather bold move on behalf of a legal practice or dental surgery to follow this path. 

Abstract, quirky, obscure, the original companies who chose these offbeat names reflected a defiance of convention. The following waves of companies to choose offbeat names, however, reflected more of a herd-like mentality and unfortunately reduced them to very standard concepts. 

Spiritual, esoteric symbolic:

Pheonix Consulting; Nirvana; Pegasus; Mind’s Eye

A broad range of commercial enterprises could reflect their corporate essence in more esoteric terms. This alludes to creativity and fantasy, yet if kept simple and pronounceable, maintains a sense of professionalism that suits many firms in many industries.

Morphed names

Celera Genomics; Exxon; Altria; Elero; Octanorm; Biotherm.

Biotech; Hi-Tech; Innovation & Scientific Research firms are the most common creators of names that don’t actually have a literal meaning, yet through onomatopoeia, or the combination and morphing of two relative terms, evoke a feeling of the sector
in which the company specialises. As these types of names are figures of the creators’ imaginations, they are the most easily registered and are able to be trademarked. There’s less likelihood of the name already being used by another entity.

Literal names:

Ouragency; Bed, Bath ‘n Table, The Design Group, The Marketing Group...

Say it like it is, and if you’re one of the first in the sector, perhaps you can grab a very obvious name that almost sounds like an industry generic. Like the surnames, these names don’t have an expiry date, yet may lack the creative expressive flair of the other directions your name can take.

Regardless of what style of name you adopt for your company, there are some ground rules to which close adherence is recommended:

• ensure it can be registered/trademarked. This is an obvious one for legal, accountability purposes. Check if the name isn’t already taken.

• make the name unique or memorable

• concise, simple, easy to pronounce, and pleasant to the ear

• ensure it doesn’t translate as an insult in another language

Choosing a logo 

Golden Arches, The Swoosh, The Apple; The cursive script of Coca Cola; the simple hp initials. These are some of the most recognised symbols reflecting the world’s most notorious brands. They are simple and  timeless, yet embrace the culture, vision and ethos of the entity... and, by the by, probably cost the corporation millions of dollars to create.

As exemplified with the world’s most widespread brand – Coca Cola, a logo does not necessarily have to be a symbol or design; it can just be a distinct font and colour combination. This is your first decision when creating your logo. Symbol? Or Wordmark? Tony Spaeth, a US Corporate image consultant, has created a website, www.identityworks.com, which is a thoroughly recommended reference site on this subject.

For those working in design, you may have ideas and technical expertise to design your own logo or you may employ the services of a graphic designer. Those without the technical skills to design their own logo may brief an independent designer or seek inspiration from a reputable marketing, design or advertising agency.

Tony Spaeth proposes a few rules of thumb when creating a “great mark” . He says it should be distinctive, practical and graphic. It should be kept to one message and be simple in form as well as appropriate, not just appealing.

Corporate colours

I love red. It screams passion, heat and energy. I wear it. My car’s red. I would literally paint the town red, if I could. Throughout my previous marketing management roles, when I had the responsibility of designing the logo and choosing corporate colours, I had to hold back from suggesting red every time.

Did the director of my company identify with red like I did? Did it ‘suit’ the sector in which I was marketing? Typically not. In fact, as my roles were generally in industrial companies where the directors were very well respected, methodical engineers – my dreams of fire engine-esque schematics were often vetoed in preference for steely-blues. 

Needless to say, when I started my own consulting business, I chose the brightest, cheeriest hottest red imaginable for my logo and branding. This is my own baby. The colour reflects my personality and corporate soul. There are two indirect lessons a director should learn from this story:

• make sure you thoroughly brief your marketing manager/team or agency responsible for designing your logo as to how you want your company’s soul to be reflected. Look over their shoulder at frequent occasions. Design can be such an emotional science that everyone involved in the brand creating process may be unconsciously manifesting their own vision into your company’s identity.

• if there is a typically “standard” colour that resonates throughout your industry – eg; steely blue in the IT sector, why don’t you try an alternative colour that stands out from the rest?

A shot of inspiration – the slogan

Just Do It – Nike; Think Different – Apple; Enjoy Coke; The Sydney Morning Habit – SMH; Turning Vision Into Reality – Intercad

Rarely a full sentence; barely ever grammatically correct; often an imperative and ideally memorable; clever and soul encompassing, the slogan verbally marries the visual brand with your company’s vision, culture and soul. In as few powerful words as possible, how do you encapsulate your company’s soul?

As with all the other elements of the brand creating process, keep the slogan: 

• simple and pronounceable 

• globally relative (so it translates well in other languages and cultures)

• distinctive

• appropriate

If the decision is solely yours, confer with someone whose opinion you value. If you’re a team, responsible for conjuring up the ideal term, brainstorm the phrase in as diplomatic a fashion that is required in your company. Don’t fall into the trap of asking too many people within and outside the company to give an opinion. This exercise is very subjective and can end in a battle of egos, personalities and opinions. 

So where to now?

The branding process is complete. You have an image that reflects the essence of your corporation and its activities. But how do you let your audience find out?

That’s where branding strategy segues into the marketing strategy. A topic for another article.

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