If you’re a business owner, are you your own best brand?
When you first started your business did you decide to use your own name or choose a different name that reflects the product or service you’re selling?
Maybe you’re well-known in your field and it made sense to use your own name. Or, possibly you just wanted a name that would stand out like techcrunch.
The P&G Model
P&G’s recent announcement that it is shedding up to 100 brands got me thinking about the world’s leading consumer products company’s branding strategy. Most people don’t know the company behind brands as disparate as Tide and Duracell batteries, and Clairol and Bounty paper towels, as P&G does not appear on the packaging.
On the other hand, everyone knows Heinz ketchup and Heinz baked beans are made by Heinz. It’s notable that as the company added products to their portfolio they kept brand names like T.G.I. Fridays and Weight Watchers.
But those companies are monsters with monster advertising budgets. They can promote the heck out of their brands, whether their company name is on their products or not.
What About the Little Guys?
Let’s get real and talk about the little guys – the small companies and entrepreneurs who can’t build their brands with expensive advertising. How do you decide if you should use your own name or a name reflective of your offerings?
I decided to see how a couple of the big little guys are doing it. Is there anybody who doesn’t know Seth Godin? He’s the best-selling author who popularized the concept of Permission Marketing that stated consumers reserve the right to give you permission to engage them. That became the core philosophy of social media. To me, his brand essence is his original thinking. No one is better at making you think about things differently.
Then there is Copyblogger. Not everyone knows that Brian Clark is the founder, unless your beat is social media. Copyblogger has built its brand on outstanding advice and training about blogging, writing and WordPress design.
Both are successful brands and I could name others that go by either the individual’s name or a name that represents the company’s brand essence.
How Do You Decide?
As you’ve noticed, my company name is Write Speak Sell. My probably faulty thinking at the time was that to be successful in business you need to write and speak (communicate) well and also know how to sell. My posts would delve into these subjects and people would flock to me with their business. Well, while I’m doing fine, that’s not exactly what happened.
Should I have used my own name? I rebranded myself about five years ago as a business writer toiling in the social media space after a long career in public relations and marketing. At one time, I was a recognized leader in the public relations industry (president of PRSA-NY, chair of the international PRSA conference, and so forth). This isn’t bragging, just the facts.
When I started my first business I called it The Paladino Company because of my name recognition. It worked for me. My brand stood for someone who understood how to build brands through public relations. Then I went back to working in an agency and over time as new leaders emerged in the field, Paladino moved on to other ventures.
Fast forward to the present. If Google is any indication, my blog is increasing in popularity. I think that more people want to read my thoughts on social media and blogging, employee engagement and branding. Business is humming though not booming.
To this day, I’m not sure I made the right choice. Should I have continued to leverage my own name that still had some brand recognition in the PR world? But I wasn’t doing what I had been doing any more.
Was the name I chose too cute? I had formed an ad hoc advisory group when I first started my new venture to ask for their help in defining my brand and then we bounced around a number of company names. After they left, I ignored those and decided on my current name. Heck it was my company!
How did you decide on the name of your company? Do you feel it truly represents your brand – what you want to be known for? How do you promote and leverage your brand?