Trade marks provide a very important branding function. They combine to distinguish – and hopefully elevate – your brand from your competitors. The sum of your trade marks combine to create a familiar picture that consumers will recognise, before anything else. Whether they be loyal customers or potential future customers. It makes sense, then, that iconic, striking trade marks make for the best branding and are highly sought after. Sophisticated business creators will dedicate vast amounts of resources and talent into creating a memorable trade mark, seeing it as extremely important to invest in.
So, when it comes to making your business stand out, there’s no more essential place to start than your business name. Not only is it the first thing your customers will learn about your business, it’s the centrepiece into which all the rest of your branding interlocks. So why is it that businesses so often arrive at names that are uncreative, unoriginal, and – frankly – boring?
There are a few possible reasons. With some exceptions, businesses that are starting out, are reluctant to shake things up. At the infancy stage, a business’s goal is usually little more than entering the market with a sense of legitimacy. It’s often not their aim to be outliers and to stand out. Certainly, a measured approach is not bad in itself, but it would be a shame to let this attitude effect branding decisions. One key to good branding is consistency, so it pays to think in terms of where you want your business to end up, not where you want to start out. Also, the best businesses don’t set out to be just another business, so don’t let your business name reflect limited thinking.
On the other the hand, some business names are essentially informative, some businesses may need to make their function very clear from the outset. Susan’s Dog Wash, for example, may not be striking, but it provides the customer with all the information they need to know. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other, a great name can be simultaneously informative and memorable.
One class of business that excel in the arena of exciting branding are bands and musicians. Band names are almost always so striking and memorable. For example:
- The Flaming Lips
- Dead Kennedys
- The Smashing Pumpkins
- Alice in Chains
When we consider the similarities between businesses and bands, we might wonder why there’s such a difference? It’s certainly not because of some unattainable creative genius, only reserved for artists. It’s due to original thinking motivated by three principles:
1. Bands start off with the intention of creating a point of difference. It’s not their intention to merge in amongst the status quo, in fact they often disdain it.
2. Bands start out from a position of high ambition, they’re thinking of stadiums while still in the garage, and their branding is accordingly ambitious.
3. To their great benefit, bands often think about their branding holistically – the image, title, and sound of the band, all form parts of a central whole.
The result is that the band’s branding is so often instantly memorable and evocative. Try to forget Butthole Surfers, Regurgitator or Rage Against the Machine.
Businesses have a lot to learn from the approach of bands and musicians. When you’re just getting started, slipping into the status quo of existing branding trends and templates may seem a safe option. But this suggests limited thinking. Almost without exception, business success stories are marked by their creators thinking exceptionally and shaking things up. By adopting a non-conformist’s attitude and embracing a bit of creativity, your business will have an advantage over your competitors, before you’ve even begun.
Original branding won’t just help your brand stand out. It can help you avoid legal complications. A creative branding strategy will be much less likely to infringe upon another businesses existing trade mark rights.
Interestingly, establishing a significant reputation with iconic enough branding can protect your trade mark from imitators, whether it’s officially registered or not. However, this is relatively rare, so you should register your trade mark to acquire legal ownership. Once registered, your original trade mark will remain original. Legally protected from imitators, your business will retain an exclusive right to use it.
Finally, branding is definitely worth getting right from the very beginning. Not only does consistency in branding promote familiarity and recognisability to consumers, rebranding is also notoriously difficult and costly. If done right from the outset, a unique and catchy trade mark can become your best marketing tool.
Creativity in branding is the best way to make your business stand out. In an online environment, where there is a vast proliferation of businesses, identity and distinction are an invaluable currency. There’s no excuse for thinking that creative and original branding is out of your reach. After all, if four kids in a garage can do it, so can you.