At MyDomaine, we know how challenging it is to turn your passion into a thriving business. Making that leap of faith takes courage and confidence, but seeing your dreams become a reality is more than worth the effort. One question, however, remains: Where do you begin? How do you transform that small and often simple idea into a profitable company? Well, we want to help. So we partnered with Above the Glass to give young entrepreneurs the knowledge, tools, and the edge to own their working lives. Here, the two ATG founders, Heather Serden (a former investment strategy analyst) and Danielle Yadegar (a former fashion editor) guide you through their personal process.
Your name and logo can speak volumes about who you are to your customer. So it's important to be accurately represented. This has been a very controversial issue for us at Above the Glass, and we almost changed our company’s name the morning before we launched the site. We were advised that the name could alienate male users, would read very small and get lost easily when sponsoring events, and, most importantly, not be as timeless, considering the long-term plans we have for the business.
While we were convinced that some of that might be true, we simultaneously believed our name would be instrumental to our success. Our customers are mothers, sisters, daughters, creatives, dreamers, friends, advocates, and some of the most talented individuals on earth. Women would know we were talking straight to them and understand our mission: getting them above the glass ceiling and in control of their careers. So we stuck with it, and we're so happy we did. Still in the process of creating your business name? Here are a few things we learned along the way so you can create the winning one.
Know Your Target Audience
Defining your target audience dictates the entire brand strategy of your company as well as your marketing plan. Who are you building your product for? What factors are most important to them? How much are they willing to pay? How will you communicate with that person? What voice do you need to speak to them in? Sometimes it is best to create a character profile of who you think your target customer is, and then to do some research and sample testing to prove this person wants your product.
A character profile is basically an imaginary story of a person and what their life entails. What is their gender? How old are they? How educated are they? Do they have children? Do they care about the environment? Do they travel on the weekend? Once you have come up with a sample profile of the person you are going after, you can start shaping your brand identity.
Thinking about colors, shapes, font, are all integral parts of branding. For Above the Glass, we chose a blue color because while our target audience is women, our tools are truly gender-neutral, and we didn’t want to alienate anyone from using our product. Don't just think about your present-day business; keep in mind where you want your business to be in five, even 10 years down the line, and make sure you are building something that will translate well to that. Of course, things change, and businesses pivot all the time—there is only so much you can predict!
Pick the Right Name
Now that you have defined your target audience, you can determine what exactly you want your name to communicate to them. What feelings do you want to evoke from your consumer? Do you want to be smart and funny? If so, a clever play on words might be the way to go. Are you looking to be nostalgic? A name that suggests a distinct time and place could help transport your customers. Do you want to be straightforward, frills-free, and easy to understand? A simple descriptive word or an acronym may be enough to convey your purpose.
It is absolutely essential to understand your competitive landscape. Take inventory of all your competitors, and differentiate yourself in the naming process. What is their specialty? How do they differ from your business? What is your value proposition—in other words, why is your offering better than the competition's? What are they doing right, and what are they doing wrong? Pick a name that allows you to stand out, and in the process, you'll also crystallize what makes you special.
Coming up with a name is relatively easy. Coming up with a name that you can get a URL, social media handles, and a trademark for is not. Search using Trademarkia.com, GoDaddy.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to see if your preferred domain and handles are available. We also recommend you do a general trademark search to make sure no businesses have reserved anything that resembles your own name. Specifically look to see if companies within your industry have reserved a similar name. Some traditional words spelled in quirky ways may be easy to remember, easy to trademark, and a way to show your company's personality.
Design Your Logo
Your logo will be the most prominent physical representation of your brand, so make sure you get it right the first time. It's important to find a designer and an aesthetic that accurately represent your company and speak to your target customers. Sometimes the hardest part of creating a great logo is finding the right creative partner to help you design it. This part of the brand identity process is worth the investment, so make sure you do your research before you spend the money to bring your brand to life.
Websites like Behance.com are great places to browse freelance graphic designers and find the right match for you. Another way to find your designer is to look at companies whose brands and websites you admire; then find out which creative minds were behind them. Do not be afraid to send cold emails asking for introductions to creative professionals whose work you admire.
Create Branded Stationary
Networking is often the best and most effective way to build your book of business, so make sure you have something to leave behind for people to remember you by. Corporate collateral, such as business cards and stationary, make you look professional, refined, and ready for work.
But remember, there's a fine line between professional corporate collateral and overly expensive paper goods. At Above the Glass, we try to pinch pennies everywhere we can. While we love the design of our business cards, it doesn't justify the cost to print them. We will be taking a less expensive route when it comes to reprinting these babies next time around.
Before you have so much to offer others, chances are you will be asking for a lot of favors—and that's okay! You will never get what you don't ask for. It's great to have nice stationary for the many handwritten thank-you notes you will inevitably write. Those personal touches will make an impact, and you need to be proud to promote yourself and your company by having the right stationary to do so. Websites like Moo.com allow you to create such materials online, efficiently, and inexpensively. You can upload your own logo, choose your layouts, and customize your paper goods to your own liking.
Establish a Social Media Presence
Your social media presence is an effective and immediate way to communicate with your target audience. Make sure you are authentic and consistent with your voice and brand across all social media channels. Do your photos on Instagram all have a similar aesthetic? Are your Facebook Live videos in a consistent environment with a format that feels true to your brand? If you are authentic and consistent on social, it will be easier to attract a following that will become familiar with and appreciate your business.
Once you start social media and digital marketing, it is important to measure the feedback and adjust accordingly. It could be that buying a mailing list and embarking on a direct mail campaign is a great strategy for you, but know for sure that it is likely to be effective because of data, not just that hunch you have. Tracking progress is just as important as putting the content out there in the first place.
Plan Networking Events
Sometimes the best way to promote yourself is old-fashioned in-person networking. A great way to achieve this is through live events. Not only do live events allow you to meet your customer, interact with them, and collect valuable feedback, such events are also great opportunities to partner with like-minded brands, reach their audience, and better co-brand yourself. Events can attract press, get people talking about you, and be a great excuse to make new friends.
What type of events you host and participate in can strongly affect and shape your brand. Saying no to certain opportunities can be hard at the beginning, but protecting your brand is important at every stage. Are you trying to attract mass amounts of users for a tech product? Then maybe a highly trafficked conference is the right place to show off your product versus a high-priced workshop, which could alienate your target customer.
Know Your PR Options
Good or bad, public relations can often help shape a business's brand identity, but PR can be tricky. As a young business, it very rarely affordable it to pay five figures a month to get the word out about your business. Organic, grassroots marketing can be infinitely more authentic and effective. But if you have the cash to spend, and don’t know how to get in front of the right people, a PR firm may be the way to go.
The ideal time to enlist a publicist would be when your company reaches a huge milestone, such as a capital raise or high-profile business partnership. The landscape of PR is changing, so make sure you find a PR firm that is the right fit for you. Some more innovative PR agencies, such as Digital Brand Architects and Small Girls PR, offer experiential marketing, branded events, and influencer integration. If your business is in the tech or digital media space, that may be the type of publicity you are looking for.
Now that you’ve created your brand, protect it. Print out our handy trademark checklist today!
Original Graphic by Stephanie DeAngelis