Company Naming Vs Company Branding

August 25, 2011 by  Filed under: Branding 

For start up companies and entrepreneurs looking to launch their new businesses, the question often arises “Do I just need a business name, or do I need branding?” The difference between naming a company and branding a company is the difference between sharing a simple hello vs. sharing a great conversation. A good company name can generate immediate interest and intrigue, but it doesn’t tell the whole story (and it shouldn’t have to!). To convey the full brand message, the company name needs to be supported by other key elements. These should include a descriptor phrase, a supporting tag line/positioning statement, a well-conceived logo design with complimentary color schemes, an intuitive website design and navigation, matching collateral pieces (brochures, business cards, etc.) as well as integrated social media pages (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). You will also need to consider the tone of your company communications (e.g. friendly vs. formal, entertaining vs. educational) and its “brand voice”. If company naming is two dimensional in nature, then branding is three dimensional, affecting more of the senses and providing greater depth to the company identity.

Moving beyond the introduction

According the, over 600,000 new businesses start up each year. With such a competitive environment, it’s not enough to have a catchy or creative company name. By branding a company, you give your business an entire story, not just a title page. It invites potential customers to go beyond the outside jacket and look “inside the book.” Then they will read more, see more and learn more about what you do. Branding a company creates a higher level of engagement by providing a compelling message that starts with the name and ends with decisive action – a desire to join in, sign up, request a quote, or purchase a product. Company names comprise the cornerstone of branding, but they are not the entire building. That is why so many internet start ups fall short, creating zany brand names with little to no continuity to them. They announce themselves with a shout and then have nothing left to say. Company branding, like any professional business service, requires a degree of thought and expertise in order to achieve the desired outcome – attracting the right audience with the right message to achieve the right response.

When in doubt, test it out

So before jumping at the first clever name, try practicing it as part of an elevator speech. Can you follow it up with an intuitive and compelling tag line or catch phrase? Does the name provide you with an entire marketing lexicon of words that support your brand message and your brand positioning? Does it segue easily into a deeper conversation about the benefits your company provides? Or does it stop cold, leaving the listener with a puzzled “huh?” that requires lengthy explanation and clarification. If you are pondering your company identity, then by all means aim high for a great company name, that “title” to your company book. Just be sure to follow it up with a great story, a real page turner, one that your fans can’t put away. That’s when you go from a company name to a company brand. If you do it, and do it well, you may just find yourself on the next bestseller list!

Phillip Davis is president and owner of Tungsten Branding, strategic company branding consultants specializing in name development, rebranding and brand positioning.

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