Tuesday , 28 March 2017
Home > Starting out as a freelancer > Naming and branding your business

Naming and branding your business

One of the biggest challenges when you’re starting out as a freelance strategy consultant is naming and branding your business.

Remembering that this will then live across all your brand touch points including:

  • Naming youWebsite URL
  • Email address
  • Business cards
  • Invoices
  • Logos (brand identities)
  • Presentations
  • Email signatures
  • etc.

It has to mean something – not just to you but to your audience.

I’m speaking from a solo-freelancer and strategy consultancy perspective here. If you are setting up larger organisations there’s more of a drive to have something less you-specific, some of the learnings in the post will apply but I’m focusing more on the smaller business here.

Recently I went through a ‘rebrand’ of sorts – I have been set up as a limited company for a number of years but the name really did not do justice to what I wanted from it and what I want prospective clients to get from it.

The company name used to be DillonArts – which is still quite nice, my name is Greg Dillon and I work in the creative industry but it is not specific enough.

After lots of deliberating, I went all round the houses and came to the conclusion that there are four naming territories to explore when naming your consultancy / freelance business…

  • Owners name – hero the founder / owner, accountability, endorsement
  • Literal meaning – what it is you do / provide / how should clients feel
  • Abstract – something random that has no inherent meaning related to your business
  • Silent – something that is just there to partner with others

I wrestled with it for ages and called my design industry mentor to discuss it a number of times and together we came to an idea around truth, honesty and purity called Candour. I did the checks, found a way to make it work URL-wise but something that I could not explain just did not feel right. It was not me.

Eventually I went with my heart… After a weekend in the W Hotel in Barcelona for my fiancé’s birthday it all fell into place… W Hotels made me think more strongly about the ‘ownership’ and ‘iconifying’ thing as it is done so nicely there. Then having a qualifier or secondary statement that would denote what I and the consultancy stands for.

I moved from building a brand around meaning and creating a brand around my initials, GD, so that I can iconify the G that stands for me and gives that personal endorsement as well as being flexible across different ventures.

So… I have split my business into two parts…. GD | Inspires (brand consultancy arm) and GD | Ventures (other businesses and projects I embark on).

Thoughts? Any other ideas or comments around naming and branding your business – what are your naming stories?

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About GregDillon

Greg is the founder of strategy consultancy GD | Inspires and spends his days strategising for various design agencies and clients around the world - see more at http://gdinspires.com. He is also a prolific entrepreneur having launched Strat-Talking.com - a website aimed at giving advice and insight to new, existing and veteran freelancers as well as commenting on all things strategic. Feel free to email him at: greg@gdinspires.com or follow on Twitter @StratTalking

7 comments

  1. Greg

    Great post, ‘what’s going to be our name’ challenges every start-up and sole trader known to man, what ever the founders say to the counter, it will have fexed them greatly. The Inspiration Room published a really cool infographic from a team ‘Rob & Joe’ which groups London agency names by pretty much the same territories as you set out. I blogged about it and my own troubles with both agency and sole trader naming here; http://bit.ly/XOmmlF and you can see the orginal article here; http://bit.ly/UbN8EQ

    Philip

  2. Hi Philip – thank you for the comment and your kind words. I saw their infographic a while back, really nice summary and some brilliantly random examples of agency/consultancy names. It really is so hard to get it right – that’s why people pay people like us to help them – as ultimately you have to live and breathe the name, the meaning and the brand promise. Nice blog post on the subject – Passion… one can only imagine the innuendo and awkwardness at times. My best was One Agency… nice idea but far too lofty and self righteous.

    G

  3. More thought-provoking stuff from the Gregster … did you also know the shape of the Coca-Cola bottle was also based on a woman’s curvy physique? And the amount of information packed on top of Harry Beck’s original tube map (based on electrical wiring diagrams) e.g. the length/difficulty changing from one line to the next is astounding. A real-life example of the “Kaizen” continuous improvement process long before Toyota learned how to do it from the American professor/statistician W. Edwards Deming

  4. I’ve recently gone through a rebranding as well! The outcome was mainly abstract but personal as well. It does hint towards the industry I’m in. I wanted to use a play on the duality of my own life – web developer/geek and outdoorsman/hippie. The result: Pixel Hippie Creative. I wanted to go for a unique and memorable name. I wanted it to be ambiguous as to size/scope in case I want to expand in the future. Just like you, I decided to add on the ‘Creative’ part as a secondary to identify the industry.

    I’m just finishing up with my entire identity package now. It’s been a long process but a lot of fun.

    It truly does make your business and everyone needs to invest in branding themselves, especially as a freelancer!

  5. Hi Austin, industry-specific with a personal twist is a great route to go, especially as a freelancer and small business owner – as you say, the scalability in the business needs to be able to be reflected in the name without directly calling it out. Cannot wait to see your full identity package… Too many freelancers neglect this part of their businesses, even if they spend their days building strong brands for others!

    G

  6. Thanks Paulie – you can always become a member if you’d like to access more information and greater freelance advice and guidance.

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