Last fall, I volunteered my time with an organization thats mission is to help established residents within gentrified communities stay connected through technology-based solutions.
Through this program, I mentored an entrepreneur that was creating a solution to help urban farmers. His idea was to locate unused corporate land that local urban farmers could use to grow their crops.
Once we began to collaborate, I soon realized that the entrepreneur was focused solely on the product’s functionality, instead of some crucial steps that needed to be established before the product features were even a part of the conversation.
At one point, I stopped our session and asked: “Have you put pen to paper?”
My intention with the question was to find out if he’d planned his business before beginning to develop his product’s functionality. His answer was “no.”
He had a name, a logo, and the beginning stages of his online presence without first defining his audience or revenue model. The reason being? His background was in engineering and programming, and so he focused on what he knew.
It’s a natural tendency for entrepreneurs to begin planning their businesses exactly where their skills fall.
For example, if your background includes finances, your first priority for your new business will be money. If your background is in engineering, development, or programming, your initial inclination will be refining the functionality of your product. Although this seems like a natural first step, it’s not always the best approach.
Once we worked through his initial business design and brand strategy, another volunteer then chimed in to ask: “Is your original name even relevant anymore?”
The clarity of this entrepreneur’s business strategy lead to the realization that his brand name was completely wrong.
Up to this point, the naming he was using would never build the trust he needed to approach his audience. He needed to figure out his business before he could create a brand name.
Lessons Learned? Before you communicate to the world about your brand, you must have a business strategy in place. Specifically, brand naming can only happen with the following strategies in place:
- Brand Foundation – Why are you in business in the first place, beyond making profit? What difference are you seeking to make?
- Business Design – How will this business make money AND be profitable?
- Key Audience – Who’s going to pay for the value you bring? How can you find them where they are?
- Competitive Landscape – How are you different from the competition? Why would people pay for your value over others?
Before creating any brand, be sure to create the logistics of the business first and foremost. Effective communication, marketing, and sales can only happen when you know exactly WHAT the business is, HOW the business will make it’s money, and WHO will pay for the value that the business provides.
Once you have key strategies in place, the process of creating a brand name will be far easier. You’ll be able to find inspiration from, and more clearly draw correlation between, the core business, the core brand, and the customers that the brand is ultimately trying to reach.
Now it’s your turn: What path have you taken to get to your perfect brand name?
I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and feedback in the comments below.