John Sailors is an associate professor in the Marketing Department at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.


Ask the consultant: How do I ensure success in identity and branding?

  • October 7, 2012 - 10:29 AM


I need help branding and marketing my leadership, communication and teamwork training business. I tried out several company names and they were all boring. So, I used John Goldberg & Associates for a while. Now I'm using InterPersonal Trainer. I need a great name, logo and message. What steps should I take to ensure a successful development of identity and branding materials for my company?





This question hinges on what it means for identity and branding materials to be successful. A good but brief definition would be that the identity and branding materials clearly convey to target customers both the category in which your business competes (not always important but likely to be so for a small, lesser-known company) and those characteristics that set your business apart from its competitors.

To accomplish this, you first have to know who your target customers are and how you either are or wish to be perceived differently from your competitors. These are strategic decisions you make, with the aid of relevant data. Until you have a clear understanding of these items, all you can do is stumble (e.g. trying out several boring names).

But that raises a key point: The final arbiter of whether identity and branding materials are successful is the potential customer, not you. How do you know those names you tried out were boring? Did you ask potential customers? Don't wait for customers to tell you via sales -- seek them out first and ask them.

Once you know your target and what you are -- and wish to be -- known for, I recommend you engage the services of a local branding consultant or advertising agency to develop a list of good potential names. Following that, some qualitative research (focus groups, for example) would be useful to identify whether there are any unanticipated problems with the names and to verify that they convey your desired message.

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