Ranchers would brand cattle as a physical reminder to rivals, buyers, or passersby that the cattle belonged to someone. In that case, a brand was a symbol that established the identity of a business, and to be effective, it did not resemble anyone else’s symbol enough to cause confusion.
Does your brand do that? If it does, you are sending a clear message. If it does not, you are sending a clear message that you are unclear about your own brand. Confusion = I don’t trust it and won’t buy it. Consider the following:
- Brands start with an idea and a name. What do you want to sell? Research shows that names beginning with a hard “C” sound do well. I have a relative who once had an online traveling business called TKE Enterprises. He did not want his brand’s name to pigeonhole him into just travel, as he was a general contractor and has an avid interest in real estate. His scope was large. If he had used TKE Travel instead, he would be sending a message that he sold something related to travel but nothing else.
- What’s the scope of what you want to do? My indie outfit, Great Nation Publishing, specializes in Christian fiction and non-fiction. Screenplays, spoken word, plays, music publishing — these are all covered, but they will all have that spiritual bend. We won’t be publishing erotica or street lit, but that’s not our focus. Stay in your lane. Use your company name in your e-mails and your blog.
- You need a logo. Just a name doesn’t do it. You need a professional-looking logo that clearly communicates your name and your scope. It should go on your website, invoices, order forms, e-mail sign-up forms, business cards, and e-mails. Research your colors and their meaning carefully. Clip art (while free) is unprofessional-looking and you cannot trademark it. Remember, not everything free is good.
- Continuity is key. Learn from my mistakes here and be similar across the board. When I first started, I bought the URL for the name of my first novel, TheLostTestament.com and GreatNationPublishing.com to brand. Designing and maintaining one URL is not cheap, much less two — not to mention that it’s confusing to an audience I was still building. So, I wanted to brand my name. BrianThompson.com belongs to an actor. BrianLThompson.com belongs to another author. There was no way I was going to spell out my middle name, so I settled on BrianLThompson.co. CO is a new end link that hasn’t really caught on yet. Besides, you have to constantly tell people to drop the “m.” Remember: confusion = I don’t trust it and I won’t buy it.
Today, my website address, along with my Twitter handle, Linkedin profile, and Facebook Fan Page all have “Author Brian Thompson” as their titles. So, when I’m interviewing, I don’t have to recite a long list of different names and addresses.
One final tip: match your e-mail address to include your URL, so you’re not giving away free advertising to AOL, Yahoo!, Gmail or Hotmail. They make enough money as it is. And yeah, it’s free, but it bears repeating: free isn’t always good.
P.S. In this case, free IS good: enter your e-mail on my author site TODAY (July 6, 2011 ONLY) and I will e-mail you a coupon for a FREE electronic copy of my June 2011 release, The Revelation Gate.
Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thriller The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.