the branding process

10 steps to successfully name or rebrand your company

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Laying the groundwork

Whether you are launching a new business, product or service, or rebranding an existing one, clarity is key. Clarity creates interest, grabs attention, and calls for action. 


Gaining that clarity requires insight into what truly drives your business. (And it's not your products and services!) We call it "finding your pivot point." Once you identify your pivot point, you can build your brand around it, create a following, and command a premium. Then life becomes more enjoyable. Then it’s smooth sailing. Your audience “gets it.” When you’re clear, so is everyone else. Suddenly you find yourself in a different space; no longer battling the competition, but leading your company in new and innovative directions. Once you identify the key stakeholders for your branding process and determine your project budget, it's time to dive in.

step 01 - gather

Collecting background info

The branding process begins with a meeting of the key stakeholders. This is where you tell us where you currently stand in the process. You may have already formulated some thoughts and ideas. You might have names that you love but can't use for various reasons (i.e. trademark conflict, the domain was taken, etc.) Or you may just be at a dead-end, wasting valuable staff time.

In this meeting, we discuss the recommended timelines and milestones. We look at your slide decks, creative briefs, business plans, and any other supporting documentation that would help explain and convey your marketing objectives.

At this point in the process, we're here to listen, gather information, and ask lots of questions.

step 02 - analyze

Finding your pivot point

We start by asking you to define your industry. Sounds obvious, but here's what we mean: Apple is not really in the "computer" business but in the digital lifestyle business. If they acted like they were a computer company, they would be marketing against Dell and Gateway, and they wouldn't be where they are today.

Before branding a company, product, or service, we dig deeper to determine the end benefit, the true value proposition, so that the branding remains anchored, relevant, and timeless. We call this "finding your pivot point," or that central theme that resonates throughout everything you do. Your pivot point does not typically refer to your products and services, but rather how you deliver them. For example brands such as CompUSA are product defined, while BestBuy is more attribute defined.

We align your brand identity with your company's core strengths. That way, when your industry goes through cycles, you don't necessarily suffer the fate of that cycle.

It's not just strategic, it's brilliant.

step 03 - specify

Writing a creative brief

Now that you have identified your pivot point, your central theme, and mission, how do you hope to convey that message? Are you bold and innovative or tried and true? Do you engage and excite, or educate and inform? What is the personality/temperament of your brand and how do you want it to be perceived? Who is your primary and secondary target market? What type of messaging will most appeal to them? We'll ask these questions and summarize them in a document for your team to share and discuss. This will help further guide the naming process.

step 04 - prioritize

Creating the brand criteria

In order to stay on track, we work with you to prioritize which items in the brand strategy are most important and deserve the most consideration. Is it the overall sound and feel of the name? Is it the meaning behind the name? Is it the need to be unique? Or have an exact matching .com domain name?

There can be any number of drivers in the branding process, but without identifying them, and prioritizing them, the least important factors can inadvertently take precedent over everything else. Establishing what the brand communicates, makes for an efficient branding process, and avoids the tendency to use individual subjectivity as the basis for judgment. This is especially important where group consensus is involved.

step 05 - ideate

Brainstorming and developing brand identities

Once we know your business and your message, we brainstorm how best to convey that message. There are a number of branding strategies, each with its own pros and cons.

We work with you to determine which branding strategies best suit your needs, then we go to work to find those names. We search through hundreds (and often thousands), of potential brand names to find the ones that best reflect your pivot point, brand message, and meet your brand criteria (i.e. ease of spelling, pronunciation, available trademark, etc.)

Once we have a set of 12 to 15 names that meet these objectives, we share a document with you and your team and arrange a time to review. Each potential brand name comes with two to three matching tag lines, a rationale statement detailing how the name could be used to further support and position you in your market, the status of the domain name (i.e. available, parked, for sale, or secured on your behalf) and a preliminary check on the USPTO database.

step 06 - refine

Reviewing and refining

Oftentimes, in the discussion of the brand names the team will have their "ah-ha!" moment. Someone will share a new twist or insight that transforms a good name into a great one. Or one name sparks a train of thought that leads to other possibilities. That's the purpose of this process, to help find and define the essence of the brand. Once in a while, a name will pop right out, but most often, one or two of the names begin to rise to the top and make more sense with each discussion. The "story" behind the brand will begin to emerge and the name will gain traction.

step 07 - select

Selecting the winning name

Typically it requires one to three "rounds" of names to uncover the perfect candidate. Some of our best and brightest brand names were initially passed over in the early stages of the process, only to be revisited again and again. This can happen simply because it requires contrast and comparison to see the value in a name.  It helps to air out each idea: how will the name be used? where will it be seen? how will it be used in a sentence? does it have "verb potential," etc? There are usually several names that will meet the branding criteria, and then it's a matter of choosing the one that feels the most fitting and comfortable.

Based on the specifics of the project, we can also provide comprehensive trademark research, name validation testing, and linguistic evaluation to further assist you in your decision.

Want to see examples of winning names?

step 08 - develop

Developing the marketing platform

We won't stop at a name, tagline, logo, and domain name, we'll work with you to develop a marketing "lexicon" or language set to further enhance and support your brand message. By developing a language set, you will be able to create a more meaningful and congruent brand message, one that highlights your core strengths. This gives your brand message more substance and makes it more engaging and believable.

step 09 - visualize

Creating the corporate identity/logo

Once we have the name, tagline, and domain name, we work with you to create a matching logo identity. We'll evaluate your logo style and determine the best logo treatment to reflect your overall brand message. We'll provide three to five logos per round, and gather feedback on which one(s) you like best.


From there, we fine-tune the logo designs until we have one that complements your brand name. For some clients, it's all about creating something "eye-popping" and highly visual. For others, it might be more important to communicate trust and credibility. So we tailor the logo to match the specifics of each assignment.

step 10 - finalize

Finalizing and transferring all branding elements

Once the logo is approved, we send you all the files! We'll also specify the logo font type and the specific PMS colors for future reference. We then transfer over the domain name and provide all necessary information for immediate access.

Now you are good to go! You have everything you need for a brilliant brand.