“The cobbler’s children have no shoes”
Wouldn’t it be particularly galling if a Brand Strategist had no branding? But how do companies come up with business names and mottos? How did Home Depot come up with You can do it, we can help? How do you know if you’re on the right path to developing your brand name and tagline?
I’m sharing three VERY PERSONAL branding stories to illustrate three larger branding best practices.
Branding Inspiration Can Come From ANYWHERE.
It is completely normal for the inspiration for your brand name or motto to come from an unexpected place. Sometimes the perfect language is born of a surprisingly random thought, as opposed to a consultant-run brainstorming session.
Here’s how my company name came to be: when I launched my brand consulting work, I started noticing a pattern: again and again I encountered business owners who couldn’t or wouldn’t (I wasn’t sure which) clearly describe their work and its impact. I read client websites thoroughly and carefully, and I still didn’t understand what they were offering. Again and again I read wishy-washy words that conveyed nothing.
Because the companies I want to do business with are the opposite of VAGUE, I urged my clients to trust their gut and speak from a clear brand identity so their work could BE UNDERSTOOD. I want the breath and depth of the amazing work they are doing in the world to be known and TAKEN IN by their ideal clients.
I want my clients to be understood. Hmmmmm. Be Understood.
So simple: Be Understood.
‘Be Understood’ stuck with me over weeks and months. Thus the name of my company, Be Understood Branding, was born. And it was cemented as my company name after testing it: I started using ‘Be Understood Branding’ in conversations. I asked friends and clients what they thought. AND IT WAS GOOD.
Build On Your Brand Over Time
As soon as the word VAGUE occurred to me as a way to describe the missed opportunities I was seeing, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I have a visceral reaction to the word ‘vague’ (In branding, visceral reactions can be good). Here’s what I like about the word:
‘Vague’, the word, hasn’t been over-used (unlike ‘authentic’ or ‘transformational’).
The word ‘vague’, for me anyway, has an onomatopoeic effect. As you say it, you kind of feel it’s meaning, foggy and nebulous.
Your brand can be a composite of ideas that come, over time, based on a variety of sources. CASE IN POINT: At the same time I was obsessing over the word ‘vague’, I was sipping coffee from one of my favorite mugs.
A couple years ago, I bought a coffee mug I saw online that said ‘kick today in the dick’. As a 3rd wave feminist, the patriarchy was something I understood early on (puberty hitting HARD in 5th grade also probably had something to do with it). The mug reminds me (in case I’ve forgotten): I love doing fierce things. I love moving forward by taking action. And I love to kick days in the dick.
I was helping companies avoid not being truly themselves in their forward facing platforms as I sipped coffee from my favorite mug when my brain did me the service of putting the mug and my experience together:
KICK VAGUENESS IN THE DICK.
That’s what I do. That’s where I want to spend my time.
Trust YOUR Specific Truth.
Once I landed on ‘Kick Vagueness In The Dick’ as my company tagline, I went to my designer to create a visual representation of the tagline. My designer is incredible, but she is a very classy person. She is highly couthe. I told her what I wanted and there was silence on the other end of the phone. She then asked, as gently as a human can, “Maggie, does it have to be dick?”
I paused and considered the question. Yes, I would offend people. But those aren’t my people anyway. Yes, it was bold, but being bold is exactly what I encourage my clients to be. Yes, it might repel male potential clients, but that’s okay with me. So I replied, “Yes Susie. I’m sorry. But it has to be dick.”
TELL ME: how did you come up with your company name and motto/tagline? I’d love to hear.