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Resource Center » The 10 Commandments of Branding

Guidelines for selecting the right brand for a product, service, or company to serve as an effective marketing tool.

The most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal is brand recognition. No matter what your company has to offer customers, it's important to understand that people are most likely to buy new products bearing brands they can easily recognize. Keep that in mind when working on branding setup or improvement, and you'll be well on your way to success!

1. Know Your Demographic
Determining the target market and demographic is crucial when selecting a brand to which consumers will easily identify. Location, age, and income level of target consumers should be considered before making any permanent marketing decisions. A great example of a brand targeting a specific age group is the Jitterbug cell phone. It is a name that seniors will remember and identify with and it doesn't have any negative connotations. It sounds fun, young, and lively!

2. Be Unique
It may seem like a good idea to make your brand sound similar to an existing brand, but it's actually a pitfall. No matter how excellent your watches may be, a Folex will never be anything to the consumer but a fake Rolex! If you don't know where to start, try brainstorming every possible idea with every possible employee and come up with a concise description of what you'd like your brand to accomplish for you. Once you have that, you can begin the creative process. Do you sell coffee? Associate your company with something that makes people think of coffee, such as mugs, warmth, beans, caffeine, mornings, or anything along those lines. (Hey, it worked for companies like Apple!)

3. Brand Name and Domain Name Should Be Created Equal
Before making the final decision about a brand name, check the availability of the domain name for your future website. For example, let's say the name of your clothing company is Great Buttons. Business will surely be lost if people look for you online at and instead find a completely unrelated company that sells computer accessories. Even if your web address is, it may cause problems for your customers and cause them to take their business elsewhere. You may want to consider buying all the available similar domain names if they're available (,,,, etc) because overall it's a very small investment to keep someone else from stealing some of your business!

4. Avoid Prefixes
Yes, clearly brand names like "eBay" and "iPod" work, but that fad is over! Market research suggests that other brands with similar prefixes have not found the same success. (See rule 2 – be unique.) People don't want more of the same thing; they want something new and exciting! Invent your own words instead of using the ones other people have created. Where would we be today without the invention of "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", the most famous nonsense-word of them all?

5. Stand Out from the Crowd
Some words are so overused that they lose impact and become indistinguishable from the thousands of other brands using the same word. If you provide technical services, consider avoiding words like "global", "solutions", and "tech" in your brand name. There are many other words with the same meaning that would get your point across to customers just as effectively and set you apart from competitors. Also, try to leave clichés out of your slogans. Phrases like "ace in the hole", "take one for the team", and "whole nine yards" have been rendered meaningless by decades of excessive use; leave them out and your slogans will be much more direct!

6. Use Language Properly and Don't Assume Anything
Unless you're 100% sure that your business can't fail, do not capitalize incorrectly or use cutesy gimmicks. A few brands have done so successfully, like Toys "R" Us, but if you want people to find your new site you should make your message as obvious as you can. Intentionally misspelling words or using improper grammar won't get you more customers, but it may confuse more customers!

On printed materials like business cards, make sure that your line of business is clearly stated if it's not apparent from the business name alone. For example, if your company name is Touch of the West and you specialize in western-themed goods, be sure to specify that in your advertisements. Otherwise, people could get mixed up and mistake your cowboy collectibles shop for a Tex-Mex restaurant!

7. Keep it Positive
Negative connotations can turn off consumers before they even do business with you. Avoid confusing, obscene, or religious associations when it comes to your brand. Unless, of course, your business is an adults-only establishment or a church; in those cases, somewhat obscene or religious slogans, respectively, could be appropriate.

8. Keep it Simple
Brand names should be easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and easy to remember. You should also consider all possible translations. Coca-Cola was first phonetically written in Chinese as ke-kou-ke-la, which means "bite the wax tadpole." Since then, it has been revised to another close phonetic match, "ko-kou-ko-le," which means "happiness in the mouth." See, doesn't that make a big difference?

9. Choose a Reflection of the Product
The brand should relate to the product for good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy.  If the brand name is also a keyword or search term for the item, it will improve the SEO ranking and bring the web site closer to the top of the list. For example, Quality Logo Products sells promotional products and the company name includes two keywords: "logo" and "products".

10. Market Testing
Before launching the brand, get some outside opinions from clients, friends, focus groups, and anyone else who represents the target market.  Present them with a number of options and then listen to their opinions. Also, offering promotional items with your name on them would be a great way to gauge your customers' reactions beforehand!

Branding is the most valuable asset owned by a company and often represents the most significant and lasting investment a company can make. Make it memorable and HAVE FUN!

Article By Jill Tooley
Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. In addition to managing the QLP blog, Jill also manages the content development team, assists with the company’s social media accounts, and writes like a fiend whenever given the chance. You can connect with Jill on Google+.

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