Branding a small business – The literal truth?
One of the common concerns for many a small business wishing to succeed is brand or brand-name…
- What should we call ourselves?
- What’s a great product name?
- What does my small business mean to people?
Small business owners will then sit down for hours, feverishly scribbling away ideas that have some profound meaning …something cool that grabs people and makes them want to buy.
But is ‘getting it right’ really that important for a small business?
Well, let’s have a look at some of the big brands that exist today and consider how much of a difference their chosen name has made to their success.
Because when you think about it some of the biggest brands in the world have created a meaning for words which otherwise had completely different connotations or no real meaning at all…
So are we talking about a person who hasn’t had sex or one of the largest multi-brands in the world?
(either that or Richard Branson has lead a very shaded life!)
Apple, Orange, Blackberry…
Is this fruity goodness or technology?
There’s no doubting the success of this monster worldwide supermarket chain but what’s with the name?
Well, the story goes that in 1924 Jack Cohen’s small business bought tea in bulk from T E Stockwell and combined the TES initials with CO from his surname …and bam! Tesco was born. Now that all makes sense, but from a brand point of view why, in the USA, do they call themselves “Fresh and Easy” instead?
So we’re talking about the big river in South America? …Obviously not!
Founder Jeff Bezos started in mail-order and wanted his new small business to be listed as early as possible in mail-order directories. In other words, he was thinking about alphabetical order and having a business name beginning with the letter “A”. But, if that’s the case why not go for “Aardvark” instead?
Well, it is said he also took into consideration three other factors: the exotic sound of the word, the idea of the Amazon being the biggest river in the world …and that you could do something clever with the logo by highlighting “A to Z” with an arrow.
Now there’s a brand which has even become a verb! (e.g. “I will google it”).
This is a play on the word “googol” which is a number consisting of 1 with a thousand zeros after it and harks back to the statistical/mathematical beginnings of Google …yes, it is easy to forget that the megalith which is Google did once begin as a small business!
(in fact they originally called it “BackRub” …thank goodness they changed it! Imagine the weird looks you would get if you said “I’m just going to BackRub Tom Cruise”!)
But it is a clever name!
Admittedly, the last two examples suggest some clever meaning to the branding – and, yes, this is often a major factor for the small business owner wishing to find the perfect brand/name …”oh, I need something clever!”
Well, let’s consider those two ‘clever’ examples in slightly more detail…
Amazon – Biggest river in the world so they naturally must be the biggest supplier?
It’s definitely aspirational but do you think that’s what the consumer was thinking when buying in the first few years of Amazon?
And what about that clever A to Z logo…
Well, funnily enough most customers haven’t even noticed the A to Z arrow in the logo!
Google – Aha, maths! A gazillion possibilities when searching!
…but do you think anyone nowadays using Google thinks “oh good, they have a mathematical number as part of their brand… they must be better than that Bing Bong thing from Microsoft!” 😉
The reality of branding for any business, large or small
In branding you create the meaning …and the WHAT is not necessarily as important as the HOW or WHY…
So when wishing to create a brand…
Pick a name – any name! (within reason!!) – then do what you do…
But be consistent in HOW you offer it and WHY it’s important…
Never waiver in that consistency and you will create a brand.
Quick aside: This of course comes with a warning…
If you have a brand name you always use but consistently create crap products and treat your customers like crap too… Well, *that* will be your brand!
…You will become known as the person who delivers sh*t! 😉
Oh and that brand name may never have to be chosen…
Because, you already have a brand name anyway …It’s your birth name!
As always, I’d love to hear what you think – just add your comments/thoughts below!
But in the mean time, I hope I have given you something to think about next time you are counting to a googol while floating down the Amazon, contemplating the perfect brand for your small business!