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These guys will be fighting an uphill branding battle

I was asked recently, “how much does name matter when it comes to setting up a new company? Is it more important to have a distinguishable brand, or more important to be found in generic search?”

This is an excellent and more complex question then you might first think. Being known for something is important; when you’re tackling a space which is very crowded with generics and commodities, having a distinguishable brand matters a great deal. Ideally, the brand is something that is not already in heavy use in the space. Ideally, the brand is also easy to spell and passes the Siri/Google now text where you read out the brand name and domain name to a computer and see if it gets the website address correct. An easy to pronounce, easy to spell brand name is an easy to share brand name.

Naming a company after a generic category would mean that you might capture some portion of generic search about it, but you’re better off creating product pages that are appropriately tagged and structured for a generic search while working to make a distinguishable and distinct brand.

Let’s say you own a coffee shop. You might attempt to create a coffee shop named Boston Coffee Company, on the assumption that people searching for coffee at Boston would find it. However, since Google has given more prominence to existing brands there is a good chance that you would lose what little search ranking you’d get to companies like the Boston Bean Company.

Rather than challenge at a company brand level, you might be better off creating a distinct brand-name for your coffee shop, but have individual coffees that are reflective of the geography and the market you intend to take. You could have, for example, the Jamaica Plain coffee, the Roxbury espresso, is the Newton cappuccino, the Dorchester doppio. This will accomplish your goal of geographically named/obviously named products and services for the purposes of search, while still retaining a sense of individual identity.

A real-life example of this? Look at the brand name of the bread in the photo above. Are you likely to forget it? It’s also easy to find in search, and the domain name is easy to find and share via word of mouth.

Remember also that one of the key drivers of search is inbound links. One of the key drivers of inbound links is public relations work, building word of mouth and endorsement through third parties and media outlets. A clever, fun, easy to pronounce brand name that’s unique will likely be better remembered and linked in stories about you.

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