"The internet has upped the game, which is amazing. That means it’s easier to start, and easier to do it well, but also way harder to win. The competitive forces are making everyone raise their branding games."
Brand Strategist & Keynote Speaker, Jeremy Miller helps companies big and small to grow remarkable brands. Here we discuss his journey in the world of branding and marketing, along with some tips for entreprneurs about their brands.
What is your definition of a Brand?
A brand is based on what you’ve done, and branding is driven by what you will do.
Your brand is the outcome of your business and the impression you’ve made on your customers and the marketplace. It’s your reputation.
Branding is how you grow your brand and reputation. For me, branding isn’t about logos, taglines, names, or websites. Branding is about the bond your form with your customers — a bond where they choose you first. When your customers know your brand, like it, and trust it, they will choose it first. That’s what it means to create a Sticky Brand: creating a First Choice Advantage.
How did you get into branding?
By accident. In 2004 I joined my family’s business, an IT staffing firm. I didn’t know it then, but the company was going through an industry disruption. LinkedIn and Google were transforming the recruiting sector. But at the time we thought we were facing a sales problem, and we had to get better at selling.
After a year of beating my head against the wall and getting nowhere, I took a step back to figure out what was really going on. I studied my customers and my market, and I discovered we had a branding problem, not a sales problem. This caused me to regroup and rebrand the business with a new name, identity, and positioning. We changed everything!
The experience triggered a deep interest and passion for how small- and mid-sized companies grow their brands.
What do you love about it?
Everyone has an idea of what their brand could be. I love to help them achieve it!
Great branding is about growing great businesses. Successful businesses grow successful brands, and never the other way around. I love working with leaders and teams to grow their business and brands. It’s intellectually and creatively stimulating, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see people realize their dreams.
What are the key factors to consider when choosing a business name?
Strategy. Strategy. Strategy.
Everyone has naming advice, especially when it comes to talking about "bad names" and naming no-no's. I don't share their perspective. There's no such thing as a bad name, just bad strategies.
Häagen-Dazs is hard to say, and even harder to spell, but it's a brilliant name. And it's completely made up. The name works because it creates an expectation of something old, premium, and foreign. It indicates that this product is worth the premium.
The key to selecting names is to a name that fits your brand strategy.
What are the mistakes companies make when choosing a brand name that you see most often?
There’s a pull to look for ideas externally, especially when it comes to naming. Companies engage advertising agencies and naming consultants because they believe someone else is “more creative.” I disagree. You and your team have immensely creative potential, and you are the best people to name your brands.
In October I am releasing my next book: Brand New Name: A Proven, Step-by-Step Process to Create an Unforgettable Brand Name. It shows you what to do every step of the way. If you'd like a sneak peak, download my free ebook, The Anatomy of a Name here . It provides a sample chapter, and gets you into our “Insider Team” for advanced copies and special content and tools.
Is there fashion in branding, like are certain things trendy than others?
For sure! People are constantly jumping on bandwagons. Flickr triggered the Web 2.0 trend of dropping a vowel to get a .com domain name. Hipsters triggered the & trend: Boll & Brand, Death & Co., Frank & Oak.
Beware of trends and bandwagons. Your name is the longest living artifact of your company. It will outlive your strategies, products, and services. You don’t want a trendy name. You want a timeless name.
Do you advise your clients on domain names? What importance do you give to the domain name they choose for their business?
Yep. Domain names are a critical component to naming, but sometimes over emphasized. Google has gotten pretty smart, and most people aren’t interacting with domains like they were a few years ago. We search for websites versus keying in their domain names. The primary place we see domain names is in print ads and business cards. Again, look at your strategy. Where does the domain name fit in your brand strategy? If you are a small business or startup, don’t blow your budget on a premium .com domain name. Use a qualify or descriptor such as your desired name with your industry category. For instance, E3 + Restaurant Group: www.E3RestaurantGroup.com.
How do you explain pretty much all companies going for their exact brand match domains and where possible - even the abbreviated short versions of those (hp.com, TeslaMotors.com going for tesla.com, TheFacebook.com upgrading to facebook.com and now fb.com)? To use your example - that business would have to clarify each time the name is mentioned is it spelt « 3 » as the number or « three », costing extra $ for advertising and confusion for any potential clients.
Getting your brand name as a URL is ideal, because qualifiers and descriptors can complicate your name. Being able to acquire the proper brand name demonstrates strength, financial success, and market dominance. It’s not a requirement, by any means, but it is a desirable goal.
The key questions for the brand are timing and cost. When does the cost of owning the domain enhance the value it brings to the business? When the cost-benefit is aligned, go for it.
Is it fair to say that nowadays companies should brand with global mindset even if they are local? And if so, what does that entail?
No, I don’t think so. Focus on your customers and serve them brilliantly. If you’re a local business, be a local business. Create a global brand if that’s what you need.
Global branding generates a plethora of issues: language and dialect testing, trademarking in multiple countries, and competing against both global and national brands.
Does that mean that an entrepreneur should define on the outset if they are ever going to go global? Since from your advice, if you go local and so avoid language and dialect testing, trademarking in multiple countries etc, the more successful you get, the harder and more expensive it will be to re-brand if ever you decide to go global?
“Stretch” is an important consideration in brand naming. You don’t want to pick a name that could limit you later on.
Here’s my advice: build your naming strategy with the best knowledge and vision you have today. Think about what your brand will become, but also remain pragmatic to how it needs to perform right away.
If at a later date the name no longer stretches or serves the needs of the brand, change it. Brands aren’t static. You have the ability to change and evolve it as the business grows.
Has the internet made it easier or harder to build and maintain a strong brand image?
The internet has upped the game, which is amazing. Tools like LogoJoy, SquareSpace, and Shopify are democratizing business and giving everyone an opportunity to compete and win. That means it’s easier to start, and easier to do it well, but also way harder to win. The competitive forces are making everyone raise their branding games.
What is the craziest story you’ve had with a client?
Ha! We’ve got some doozies, but we also have tight NDAs with our clients. My lips are sealed. 🤐
If you could have any name in the world and the domain name to go with it, what would you have?
Sticky Branding and StickyBranding.com. It’s mine, and I love it! :)
Twitter is still one of my all time favorite brand names and identities. It’s beautiful!
That’s funny you mention Twitter, did you know they started as twttr.com. Do you think it would have still been your favourite brand name and identity if they had stuck with it?
I love the Twitter brand name, regardless of the URL. It’s the most evocative name in the social media realm. I also applaud how they launched with twttr.com, because they could get it for cheap. That allowed them to launch, gain traction, and raise capital. Once they had the funds, they acquired the full .com. That’s smart business.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help or just want to chat to someone about the process, book a free consultation using the form below. We are always happy to hear from you.