Company Naming vs. Company Branding
By Phil Davis
President of Tungsten Branding
With over twenty-five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.
“The right company naming starts a conversation. The right company branding keeps it going.”
The difference between company naming and company branding is the difference between sharing a simple hello vs. sharing a great conversation. For start-up companies and entrepreneurs looking to launch their new businesses, the question often arises “Do I just need a company name or do I need company branding?” The first is about identity, the second is about personality. 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 (the “what” of what you do)
- a supporting tag line/positioning statement (the “how” of what you do)
- a:15 elevator speech (that all-important summation of your company’s essence)
- a well-conceived logo design (with complementary color schemes)
- an intuitive website design (one that matches the feel of your brand)
- matching collateral pieces (brochures, business cards, etc.)
- 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. Company naming and company branding are not the same things. Naming creates the company identity — branding conveys its personality.
Naming creates the identity — branding conveys the personality.
Company Naming — The title that says “read more!”
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 tagline or catchphrase? Does the company 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:15 elevator speech, and ultimately 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, start with a compelling 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 stop talking about. That’s when you go from a good company name to a great company brand. If you do it well, your new brand name could become the next “bestseller!”
Company Branding — Crafting the complete story
According to the SBA.gov, 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 cover. 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 startups 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 to achieve the desired outcome – attracting the right audience with the right message to achieve the right response.
Start with a business name that can build into a company brand
So if you are considering a new company name, take some time out and think more in branding terms. Ask yourself these important questions…
- Is my company name memorable?
- Does the name create interest and intrigue?
- Does the business name lend itself to further discussion?
- Does it provide an overall “platform” for future brand expansion?
- Does it provide a brand lexicon or marketing language that you can use in your copy?
- Does the name allow for future growth and expansion, as the company evolves?
By choosing the right company name, you can begin building not just an identity but a company personality — a business “persona” that customers can relate to, engage with, and follow. It won’t be a passing “hello,” but the start of a long term relationship that builds both customer loyalty and brand equity. Spending the time and energy to truly invest in your company’s identity, conveying its overall mission and message, will pay off for years to come.