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SME branding: what’s in a name?


SME branding: what’s in a name?


I like to think of a brand like an iceberg. Less than 10% is above the water, there for the world to see and admire or criticise. It is the 90% below the water that has the vast majority of the impact though, and it is this 90% that keeps the 10% afloat.

Before you even consider putting a brand image out to your customers, there are a number of things that you consider and develop a clear understanding of.

You must be able to answer two major question: Is it you? Is it your vision?


Before answering any of these questions, you must understand what a brand actually is.

A brand is an emotional relationship between you and your customers. It allows you to be recognisable and differentiable in an increasingly crowded market place. On top of this, however, a brand also acts as an internal compass for staff to know what is expected.

Brand vision

A good question to answer when developing your brand is, ‘What is your vision?’ Your vision is the reason your company exists – it is why you began, and where you see yourself being.

While means of achieving this vision might evolve overtime, it is essential that it remains the same. A perfect example of this is Samsung, whose vision is to ‘Inspire the world. Create the future.’

This vision has remained unchanged despite Samsung changing their market offering to adapt to changes in technology and the market place.

It is your brand that allows you to connect with customers and fulfil your vision, and you must therefore have your vision in mind when developing your brand.

What’s in a name?

How do you create a strong brand? Firstly, you must create a strong, meaningful, recognisable name.

The name is the most important aspect of a brand and should never change. Your logo can change over time, but if you want your brand to be successful, you must be able to anchor any changes to a name that consumers will be able to recognise despite any other changes.

To give a real life example of this, take a look at the Pepsi logo over the past 50 years. When coming up with a good name it is important to be as creative as possible.

At Pulse, we always make sure that we remove ourselves from our day-to-day space and put everything on butcher’s paper, allowing the group to brainstorm and evaluate any suggestions.

We also ensure that there are representatives from different departments within the business – this way you guarantee the name suits the entire business and not just one small section.

Creating a brand name

Here are some suggestions to guide you in creating a brand name.

Firstly, define the objectives of both the business and the brand. Any name you come up with must facilitate the completion of these objectives – remember the name will never change and must therefore be applicable until you achieve all your objectives, and not just for the first six months.

Secondly, make sure you think about your target market. Compile any insights you have about your customer and before approving any name, put yourself in their position. This way you can ensure that any potential names will resonate well with your target market.

Thirdly, consider other brands that are similar to yours, as well as those that represent the complete opposite of the image you want to portray. Evaluate your name in this context and think about how you will be seen, and where on this spectrum you will be placed.

Fourthly, make a list of the core values of your brand and review any names against this. Any name that does not communicate these core values should not be pursued.

Testing your brand name

A check you can run at the end of this process is to think about your competitors as well as your unique service positioning.

You want to guarantee that you have carved out a niche within your competitive set, and you also want to ensure that your brand name communicates this.

Once you have gone through this process and come up with a few names, open the discussion up to a wider group of people. Quite often sitting in a war room all day with the same people leads you to automatically like the end product.

A set of fresh eyes might come up with feedback and criticisms you had never considered and this is definitely a beneficial step. If you’re able to, it’s also a great idea to test the name among your target market.

Qualities of a good brand name

What makes up a good name? There are several factors that combine to make a good name: firstly, it should be unique within the category. A name should represent your core values and be easy to pronounce and remember. You should make sure it is legally available. Finally, if this brand is going to be connected to other brands or companies, you must think about how it fits within the overall company hierarchy.

If you follow these steps, you will be able to develop a loyal customer base, and in time, be able to charge a premium for your services.


Lauren Brown

Lauren is the managing director and founder of Pulse Marketing and a Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year. Her full service marketing and advertising agency has won multiple national and international marketing effectiveness awards.

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