SO, you have an idea for a rockin’ online biz to keep the good times rollin’ + build an amazing community from anywhere in the world. YES! We are stoked for you, and it’s our sincerest hope that we get to design a beautiful brand for you. But, to be super real –we’ve been working with small businesses and new startups for a while, and we’ve learned a thing or two about the ways you can establish yourself before the branding stage, to make the most of your brand development investment with us when the time comes.
Below you’ll find a few crucial steps to take to ensure your business can thrive online + seamlessly begin attracting your people right now – from business basics, to honing your messaging + developing your visuals.
1. Decide on a name
It allll begins here, and more often than not we see people get hung up on this stage. Our best advice? Don’t overthink it. But, DO consider a few of the tips below as you work on developing your business name:
Think about your audience:
- What appeals to them? Where are they hanging out? What are they exposed to? What brands are they responding to?
- Do your best to avoid super trendy language or buzzwords that might not stand the test of time
Do your research:
- Is it Trademarked/registered in your region (province/state)?
- Avoid it if there is anyone… A) in the same industry, with the same name, appealing to the same audience or B) the same business name in the same geographical area
Get a second (or third, or fourth) opinion:
- Bounce it off of people who are MEMBERS OF YOUR INTENDED AUDIENCE, from an age and lifestyle perspective
- Remember: The name doesn’t have to (and probably won’t) resonate with everyone – but it has to resonate with THEM
- We LOVE brainstorming business names! Send us a short list, and we’ll help you narrow it down, anytime!
2. Buy a Domain
Buying a web domain is incredibly important to A) secure your space on the world-wide-web, and also legitimize your business when it comes to client communications. You don’t need to be ready to launch a website to purchase a domain. You can sit on one for years, if it feels right for you.
When selecting a domain, you can go the straightforward route (businessname.com) or the playful route (havefunwithbusinessname.com). The choice you make should depend on availability, brand voice, who your audience is, and how easy to understand your name is in the first place. If you can get your businessname.com, plain and simple, we always recommend snagging it before someone else does.
If the .ca/.com are both available, grab ‘em. If not, try another variation of your name to get both if you can. It will be the easiest for your people to find, and no one else will end up with your traffic by accident.
Whereeee does one purchase a domain? Well, there’s a TON of options out there. We recommend Netfirms, a Canadian alternative to GoDaddy, that seems to have the best customer service in our experience. It also has a one-click Google Apps email integration.
What is Google Apps email integration, you ask?
That’s how you can get a email@example.com email address easy-peasy, without having to have an active website. It’s a gmail account with it’s own inbox, so you can send super-legit emails to your community right off the hop (and keep your personal emails separate from work, which is a very handy work/life balance tactic, too).
It’s a one-click process on Netfirms once you’ve purchased your domain, and costs a small amount per month to stay active.
3. Snag your social handles
We love helping clients shift their business into the social media realm. When choosing a handle, keep it as close to your actual business name + domain name as possible. Try to avoid using symbols if you can’t find your full name – consider adding a cute word or turning it into a phrase instead. It’s more memorable, and easier for you to recite aloud. For example, @businessnamelovesyou is more effective and memorable than @business_name_year. Whatever you choose, keep it consistent on ALL social platforms, to make sure your audience can identify you easily.
4. Register your business
Ahhhh, the most boring but oh-so-necessary step to become a living, breathing, business owner. Register your business with the government in your region. You’re probably at the stage of forming a sole prop or general partnership, which you can do online, fast, easy, and affordably. If you’re not sure whether you should register this way, or start a corporation, here’s a breakdown of the difference in Canada.
And for our U.S. pals + beyond, your government will offer you a similar breakdown!
5. Build your brand
Andd, you’re SET! Now comes the fun process of messaging, audience mapping, developing a visual brand, and marketing.
And we’re here to help 🙂