6 Questions To Find Your Perfect Brand Name

One of the most stressful parts of rebranding or creating a new business can be deciding on a name. No pressure, but it’s going to define everything you do for a really, really long time. So it has to be good! 

I get a lot of questions about how to come up with a business name that is unique, clever, and resonates with a target audience. Brainstorming ideas and stretching yourself creatively is something that can be tough when you know you have so much riding on it. But if you're like many entrepreneurs out there who don't normally feel creative, relax! I have 6 questions to help you find your perfect brand name that will pack a punch.

 
6 Questions to Find Your Perfect Brand Name - How to name your new business - By Dapper Fox Design//   Website Design - Branding - Logo Design - Entrepreneur Blog and Resource
 

1.   What do I want my brand to communicate?

Make a list of as many adjectives as you can that you want your brand name to evoke. Maybe you’re a knife company that want to be considered precise and bold, so you choose a name with sharp diction. On the other hand, if you’re selling stuffed animals for infants, words that represent your brand may be “whimsical” and “fluffy”. In that case, you definitely wouldn’t want to choose a name with sharp diction; you’d want to pick something that will make people feel like they’re playing on a bunch of stuffing! 

CASE STUDY
There's a local company here in Park City called Ritual Coffee. Besides their entire visual brand being absolutely beautiful, I love the way they used their name to evoke a particular feeling with their audience. According to dictionary.com the word 'ritual' means "a prescribed or established rite, ceremony, proceeding, or service." When you think about the concept of sitting down to have a cup of coffee, it is in fact, a ritual of sorts. It is a comforting, familiar practice that we participate in almost in a ceremonious manner (especially those of us who indulge in our daily cup o' joe, we know!). Ritual created a brand name that makes you feel invited to participate in the practice of sitting down to a nice warm and comforting cup of coffee. 

If you want to mimic the way Ritual came up with their name, try to come up with a list of at least 20-30 adjectives that similarly describe the way you want your audience to perceive your brand. Maybe one of these words will end up working as a stand-alone name, or combined with another category/descriptor word at the end (i.e. design, nutrition, solutions, etc). Perhaps it could even work as part of a play on words like this second question in our list:

2.   Should I include any symbolism or plays on words?

Oftentimes, people will include animals or numbers in their brand names. This is because it is an easy way to associate themselves with a certain vibe/feeling while also taking advantage of imagery. For example, if you’re the founder of a business that sells stuffed animals for infants, you'd want to think of elements that relate to your brand adjectives. Maybe words like 'whimsical' or 'fluffy' are ones you'd use when determining how people should think of your brand. Coming up with words that fit these adjectives can help play a part in creating a name. For example, something that's 'whimsical' and 'fluffy' could be a cloud, so you could potentially incorporate clouds into your name if it works!

CASE STUDY
Sometimes a play on words can be more like a combination of two words or concepts. For example, a recent client of mine came to me in need of help to decide on a good business name. Their business was going to be centered around alignment work and health, with customized plans for each individual. Since many of their clients were going to be coming to them in need of a specific solution for their alignment problems, I brainstormed some ideas around that particular concept. Through that brainstorming process, I came up with a few different words to describe the concept, including: prescription, solution, fix, remedy, recipe, etc.

From these words, I started thinking about how their solution really feels like a 'prescription' for a problem. Since the word 'prescription' was a little too long, and didn't flow as well as I wanted it to, I brainstormed variations and words that could portray this same concept. I came up with 'RX' since this is commonly associated with prescriptions. Knowing that I wanted to use the word 'align' in the name, I played around with variations until I came up with Align RX - which implies a perfect alignment prescription. This ended up being the winner!

Don't feel like you absolutely need to incorporate symbolism if it doesn't work perfectly for your situation. New businesses who choose this route can often find themselves confined to a specific symbol, which limits the growth or expansion potential. Which brings us to...
 

3.   Is this something that can grow with me?

Remember that your business could potentially expand, contract, move, etc. In the case that any of this happens, you need to make sure that whatever your name is, it isn’t too specific to what you currently offer. Stay away from anything related to geography and be sure that if you choose to describe what kind of business you have in your name, that you’re more general. If you’re a graphic designer who wants to someday learn web design, for example, “Allison Wright Graphic Design” may not be the best option—maybe opt for “Allison Wright Design” instead because it encompasses the potential you have for growth.

Or go an entirely different route and name your business something that doesn't limit it to any one individual! If you know you want to grow your business beyond yourself and perhaps sell it one day, it might be a good idea to think about a name that isn't tied directly to you.
 

4.    Is it easy to spell/say?

Cira studio Logo Design in Salt Lake City, Utah//   Website Design - Branding - Logo Design - Entrepreneur Blog and Resource by Dapper Fox Design

Think about those kids in school who had the really complicated first/last names—did you ever really know who they were? They probably had a lot of nicknames and when the substitute teachers called out their real names during roll call, you thought it was some new kid you didn’t know yet. This could happen to your business, IF anyone can even spell it close enough to find you on Google.

I'm currently working with Sarah Winkler, who is a very talented glass blower and custom glass designer. She came to me for help with a new logo and website design, but didn't have a name yet. She was contemplating 'Ceros Studios', which was a play on a rhinoceros (her favorite animal) and the pronunciation of her name (Sarah). When we tried saying the name out loud, there was confusion about what kind of emphasis to put on the different syllables. We also knew the spelling wasn't going to translate well. Instead, we came up with 'Cira Studio'. The word 'Cira' is a derivative of the word 'circle' in Latin, which relates to shape of the sun and also sounds like her name. We had a winner! Next, we had to figure out...
 

5.     Has this name already been taken?

So you’ve come up with a great name and checked off all the boxes. You’re down for the count and in it to win it, but surprise! Your great name is actually so great that someone else has already come up with it… Bummer. To avoid this, use Namechk to make sure the domains and social media usernames are available. It’s also important to do a quick trademark search because while the legal stuff isn’t fun to deal with, it’s imperative for the future of your business.
 

6.     Do people in my industry “get” it?

Warning: Asking close family or friends if they dig your new brand name will only give you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. The people closest to you in life obviously want you to be happy, so when you come to them with a new business name idea, they’ll tell you they love it. Instead, reach out to the people in your industry, potential clients, anyone you may partner with, etc. They’re the ones who actually have to DEAL with your name and understand what you need, so they’ll probably have more valuable feedback.

 


BRAND NAME CHECKLIST

  • This name will appeal to my ideal client / target audience. 
     
  • I've done a Google search to make sure there's not a similar brand or company that is using this name.
     
  • I've check the the U.S. Trademark Database and this name is not trademarked in my category.
     
  • I've checked my state's website for business entity registration, and this name is available to register in my state.
     
  • I've made sure that there aren't any other businesses with a similar name that has a bad reputation.
     
  • Make sure this isn't too common of a term or phrase that dominates the first couple of pages in search results. Why give yourself an unnecessary challenge with SEO trying to beat out big players for search rankings for the most fundamental portion of your business - your name?
     
  • My brand name is easy to say and can pass a 'radio test'. You want to make sure your audience can understand what you're saying and easily spell it after hearing it.
     
  • My brand name isn't offensive. Check the name to make sure it's appropriate around the world too. It is important to make sure it doesn't mean anything negative in slang or another language.
     
  • I've checked to make sure my brand name or a simple variation can be used as a domain name. I like to use GoDaddy.com or Google Domains to search available domain names.
     
  • I've checked to make sure my brand name is available across various social media platforms. Some to think about are: Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Periscope, etc. You can utilize a service like Namechk.com to be able to check availability on these different outlets all at once. Super useful!

If you’ve gone through this process and are now convinced you’ve found a forever name, wait a couple days if you can. Make sure the name still feels meaningful and resonates with you. You'll want to ensure that nothing else comes to mind and that you don’t decide that you actually end up hating your new name in a couple of months. So if you get through all that and you’re still convinced you’ve come up with the best brand name ever, congratulations! You’ve made it through the first step of creating your business's brand.

STILL STUMPED?

If you've gone through the checklist and brainstorming, and you're still not feeling like you have a winner, don't worry! I offer free help to choose your perfect brand name with every branding package. I'll work one-on-one with you to create some brainstorming brilliance. Together, we'll find the perfect name for your brand. For more information, send me an email and let's chat!

 

How did you decide on YOUR brand's name?

Leave a comment below!


The #1 Trick to Make Your Website Look 10x More Professional

High quality, on-brand photos are absolutely the MOST essential tool you can have for your website. There’s no skirting around the fact that we live in a highly visual world, where aesthetically pleasing images are beyond important to us.

Think of Instagram. It’s a platform built entirely around high quality images. The feeds that boast stunning images are usually the ones that thrive. Look at the profiles that throw dark or pixelated photos up, and you’ll see that these kinds of profiles rarely have a high following. The same concept can be applied to a website.

As a website designer, I’m not always given the best photography to work with. Entrepreneurs are busy, and startups are low on capital, so coming up with beautiful photos for your website doesn’t always seem feasible. But I'm here to tell you that it is possible, regardless of your budget, to get amazing photos that will help to elevate your website. Before I get into how you can get better photos for your website, we need to talk about why it is so important.
 

 
Trick-to-Photography.jpg
 
 

WHY YOU NEED TOP QUALITY PHOTOS TO MAKE YOUR WEBSITE SHINE


1. FIRST IMPRESSIONS - YOU’VE GOT ONE CHANCE

You get about 10 seconds to make that killer first impression when someone visits your website. If your message isn’t clear, and your visuals aren’t on-point, you’ve lost a customer. And when you’re working so hard to drive traffic to your website, having someone click away just because your photos are terrible is heartbreaking!

Don’t let this happen to you. Get your photos in line with the image you want to portray so you can capture the attention of potential customers and clients.
 

2. ESTABLISH YOUR CREDIBILITY

When I was taking a public speaking class in college, we were taught that one of the main objectives when opening a persuasive speech was to establish credibility with our audience. When it comes to this concept, your website strategy is no different than a persuasive speech. When someone visits your site, whether you’re a product-based business, a health coach, a photographer, whatever- one of the main objectives is to persuade the customer to choose your business. 

And for someone to want to invest in or buy from you, they need to trust you. So if your website comes across as unprofessional and lacking in credibility, it can be hard to build a solid foundation to win the customer over.

One of the best and easiest ways to show people you’re the real deal is to display high-quality images of your business, your product, and you! This allows your potential clients and customers to evaluate your business in the best possible light. Still not convinced? Next time you come across a stunning website that makes you think, “Wow, this site is beautiful… they must know what they’re doing!”, remember to check out the photos. 

Where to find free photos for your website - by Dapper Fox

Most of the time when I find myself doing this, I find gorgeous and professional photos behind the best site designs. And these great photos play a huge role in those first impressions that subconsciously convince us of a business’s credibility.
 

3. SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY

If you’re a service-based business, having great images of yourself around your website invites an audience full of strangers to get to know you. From childhood, we’ve been raised to avoid strangers (stranger danger!), so don’t let yourself come across as one on your website. Help people get to know you by utilizing high quality images of yourself that represent your authentic personality. 

Infuse your personality into the photos around the rest of your site as well. These can be prop photos, flat-lays, styled scenes, etc. Let's say you run a nutrition and health blog, and this month you have a fresh garden harvest. Grab your camera and shoot some bright photos (like this rainbow beauty from my own garden!) of your latest veggies and use it in your next blog post, or around your site. Special photos like these give your site that extra personal touch. When you’re real and relatable with your audience, they notice and will be more likely to become a fan of your blog, or choose your product or service. 
 


HOW TO FIND AND USE GREAT PHOTOS ON YOUR WEBSITE


When looking for high quality images for your website, you've got two routes to go: free or not free. If you're a start up and strapped for cash, I recommend checking out my favorite spots on the web for free photos (see list below!). While free photos can be awesome, there's always the chance that other people are going to be using the same photos as you. Which is why I recommend having your own custom photos taken, or purchasing high quality stock images (which will have fewer people using them). 
 

1. FREE STOCK PHOTOS

I've created a short list of my absolute favorite free photo sites. All the photos here can be used for commercial use and are royalty free. Best part about them? The photos are creative commons, so you can use these without worrying about attributions.

  • UNSPLASH - My favorite go-to free stock photo. They've added a search feature in the last year that makes this site top notch.
  • DEATH TO THE STOCK PHOTO - These guys put out amazing collections that you can receive each month for free if you sign up for their email list. They also have a paid section to access all collections of high-end photos.
  • SPLITSHIRE - Another resource of easily searchable, commercial-use approved photos.

     

2. PAID STOCK PHOTOS

  • TURQUOISE AND PALM - Boasts beautiful, unique and feminine stock photography at a great subscription price. I love the feminine flat lays and beautiful floral photos included in these photo packs. Turquoise and Palm has created a special offer for Dapper Fox readers- get a yearly subscription for only $147 instead of the $180!  Use code: DapperFox16 to redeem. Here's a few of my favs:
  • SHUTTERSTOCK - An affordable spot to find beautiful stock photos.
  • STOCKSY - A little bit pricier than some of these other stock photo sites, but hosts unique and stunning photos.
     

3. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER

To get completely unique photos that are guaranteed to not be used by anyone else, you're going to want to go the route of hiring a photographer. If this is in your budget, this is a great way to help elevate the aesthetic of your site. You get photos that will be completely customized to your brand, and you get complete control about how you want them to look. When looking for a photographer, make sure to take a look at their portfolio to see if their aesthetic and style matches what you want your photos to look like.

Some things to think about before your photo shoot:

  • What to wear. If you're going to be in the photos, make sure that you wear appropriate clothing to your industry. Also consider wearing colors from your brand palette. This can make a huge difference in the final product where your photos are used. Think about it- if your brand colors are greens and blues, you aren't going to want to wear a red shirt that will clash with the rest of your visuals.
     
  • Body Language and Posing. Let's face it, we're not all models. Getting your photos taken can sometimes be a super uncomfortable experience. But making sure that your body language conveys the message you want is definitely worth thinking about. Follow the tips in this Posing Guide for Non-Models and you'll be better prepared for your next photo shoot!
  • Where to shoot. This one is very important depending on the industry, but doesn't need to be too crazy. Let's say you're a restaurant that wants to get photos of your staff. Getting great action shots inside the restaurant is important, but you could also utilize the space outside of the restaurant to get head shots done (think rustic brick walls, or garden background). 
     
  • What kind of props. Props are super important if you're doing a photo shoot that will include flat lays or styled scenes. When creating photography for my own brand visuals, I bring in items relevant to my line of work: laptops, art supplies, notebooks, coffee (essential for designers!) and more. Think about what kind of objects you can bring to liven up your styled photos, but make sure they fit within your brand colors too. Don't forget about the background for your styled photos! Choosing backgrounds that contrast well with your images will help your images pop. Painted foam core boards, wooden boards, fabric and more can all be used. The Nectar Collective has a great post about finding blog photo backdrops for under $30.

Whether you’re DIYing your site, or working with a designer, great photos are crucial to your brand’s image. Don't let budget stop you from getting killer photos that will make a huge difference for your brand. Using these free tips and tricks on how to get the perfect photos for your brand and website will help you to stand out from the crowd no matter your budget.

What are your photography tips and tricks to help create high quality brand photos?

 


Website Branding - Best Practices

The Basics: How to Brand Your Website

What is branding and why is it important?

Branding isn't just a term used to describe your logo. Branding is the mood... the feeling... the impression that is left on anyone who comes to your website. And if your website is lacking in quality branding, the impression left on viewers can be detrimental to your success. 

Website Branding Best Practices and How to Brand Your Website by Dapper Fox Design//   Website Design - Branding - Logo Design - Entrepreneur Blog and Resource

No branding is actually bad branding. Here's why.

Imagine coming across a website during a Google search and click through to the home page. This website doesn't have a logo, there are no consistent colors, and the site's style is jumbled and all over the place. What do you as a viewer do? Click the 'back' button on your browser and continue on with your search. That website's lack of professional branding just lost you as a customer.

Now imagine the same scenario where you're searching in Google, but this time you come across a site that has their act together. This site is organized, eye catching, professional and lets you know immediately how they can help you. You stay a while... browse through the information page, mosey on over to the about sections, maybe even view the 'shop' and find yourself in the checkout. This website invested in quality presentation and branding so that YOU, the potential customer would want to stay. Both parties benefit from this investment; you find a great new resource, and the site makes a sale or gains a loyal follower.

Since your website will be the first impression for those interested in your product or service, the branding you implement (or lack thereof) will be a critical component to achieving success with your marketing strategy.

1. KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

Communicating who you are to potential customers begins with a crystal clear vision of your website's purpose. Make it easy to understand what you're offering, what promises you'll uphold, and why your site is worth their time. Through appearance, content and organization, your website can successfully portray your unique brand to potential customers. 

Just as you wouldn't meet up with a client in your pajamas, don't let your website portray a lack of caring and professionalism either.

For example, simply saying, “My website is about health and fitness” won't cut it. With so many subcategories under health and fitness, you need to figure out exactly who you're targeting. Is it the vegan crowd? Body builders? Paleo fanatics? Your goal is to get people to associate that category with you.

Decide which angle you're using to convey your message. Will it be an opinion-based blog? Or maybe you're focused more on the latest research analysis? Become synonymous with this category so customers come to view you as an invaluable resource in that niche.

2. STICK WITH YOUR TAGLINE

A tagline helps to communicate succinctly to your potential customers what it is that you do. Using one isn't mandatory, but it can help to establish a quicker impression of how you can help your customer. For example, Dapper Fox Design employs the tagline, 'a creative resource + blog for entrepreneurs'. This tagline is short and to the point, allowing my potential readers to quickly understand the mission of Dapper Fox Design. Your tagline isn't something that you should be changing up from time to time. Choose a solid tagline that accurately represents your mission, and stick to it. Your tagline becomes part of your brand, so maintaining consistency will reinforce this brand to your audience.

3. CREATE AN 'ABOUT' PAGE THAT SPEAKS TO YOUR AUDIENCE

If you're a blogger, solopreneur, or similar, viewers of your website will want to know about you. Having a well-written 'About' page and bio will give readers an opportunity to feel as if they know you, giving insight into your background, credibility and personality. Creating a relatable 'About' page also gives potential clients a chance to understand why they can trust you. Remember, your brand is about your company, including you and the entire image that you present.

In this inspiring TED talk, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, says, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room.” Since you can't personally explain your objectives, goals and offerings to each individual that visits your website, make sure your branding does it for you. Effective branding will give precisely the feeling, presence and objective you want it to, without needing to chat directly with every viewer.

4. UNIFY YOUR VISUAL PRESENCE

Your website should include a unified brand identity, bringing together your logo, favicon, colors, fonts and overall concept.

What is a favicon?

The favicon is that little icon at the top of your browser next to the title of the web page. Mine is the little aqua fox next to the title, 'Blog – Dapper Fox Design'. Many webmasters ignore this vital branding element, but don't underestimate this subtle attention to detail. Using a custom favicon allows viewers to see a bit of your brand even when they're in a different browser tab. It's seen alongside your title and URL, as well as when readers bookmark your site.

Website Branding Best Practices by Dapper Fox Design - How to Make a Favicon

How to make a favicon: Favicons can be created in PNG or JPEG format, and then converted to a .ico format. When making custom favicons, I simply create a 16 x 16 pixel image in Photoshop, then save it as a PNG or JPEG to my file documents. After accessing the file document, I just click and rename the file to 'favicon.ico'. I then upload it to the website via the back end on Wordpress, or through Squarespace's logo section.

Unify your font and color choices.

Maintain a consistent brand feeling throughout your website by using no more than 2 or 3 fonts. You can read my blogpost "How to Pair Fonts Like a Pro" here. Specify which fonts will be used for headers, paragraphs and accents and stick with it. Color choices should be decided upon before you begin the website design so that the mood and consistency of your site is maintained throughout new pages and blog posts.

5. HAVE THE DESIGN MATCH YOUR CONTENT

The colors, font choices, and overall look and feeling of your design needs to match the content you're offering. If you are a CPA firm, or a bank, you're not going to want pink florals floating around your site. But if you're a creative writer or an artist, a few floral elements could make your site more attractive and portray your fresh personality.

Identify who your target market will be. What will appeal to them? Younger crowds tend to appreciate bolder, brighter visuals, while older populations and professional fields lean toward a calmer, muted palette. Merge this insight about your ideal audience with elements from your own personality to create an effective brand identity.

 

How do you implement your branding on your website?