Planning your business

How to establish a new brand

Customers who connect emotionally to your brand are more likely to be loyal – and can even become champions for your business. Here's how to establish your own. 

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Give your brand shape

Your brand is the core of what your business is – but slapping on a logo and calling it a day might not get you very far. Today, a brand must be authentic, engaging, and all-encompassing. Far beyond packaging and signage, your brand should shine through everything you do.

When people think of you and your business, you want them to feel something so they’re more likely to connect with you. Here are some things you can do that give your brand shape – a distinct identity.

Narrow it down

Figuring out your brand is like a journey of self-discovery for you and your business, it takes time, and can be difficult and uncomfortable.

Think of your business as a person. Get to know your personality. What do you believe in? How do you behave in different situations? Who are your heroes? You might be an innovative maverick or experienced and reliable. You might represent high cost and high quality, or low cost and high value. Choose who you want to appeal to.

Remember that you can’t be all things to all people. Think about what’s at the core of what you do and what you stand for. See if you can narrow it down to just one word, like ‘speed,’ ‘expertise,’ ‘innovation,’ or ‘fairness.’

Do your homework

Your business brand needs to match your customer’s wants and needs, don’t rely on what you think your customers think – find out what they think. Do your research so you understand the habits, needs, and wants of your current and potential customers. Get to know their rational and not-so-rational behaviours. And if you already have a business, learn what your existing customers and prospects think – it might surprise you.

Learn from other brands

Look at other businesses and think about what they do. Notice the many subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways they signal their brand every step of the way. But one word of caution: don’t be tempted to copy big chains or big brands. Take inspiration from them but carve out your own authentic identity. You need to create a point of difference that your customers can immediately see.

Play the name game

First impressions count – which means your business name sets the tone for your whole brand. Have fun brainstorming and follow these rules of thumb to get it right.

Be unique and unforgettable

Choose a name that stands out and sticks. But remember, your business name doesn’t have to be wildly creative to be unforgettable. There’s beauty in simplicity.

Think about whether your name will be:

  • Descriptive – says what your business does
  • Evocative – evokes a strong feeling
  • Whimsical – something original. 

Could it be turned into a verb like ‘Google’ or ‘Hoover’?

Keep it simple

You want your brand to be accessible, so avoid unusual spellings and make sure your name is easy to pronounce and remember. As a starting point, try to keep it to two syllables or less – the shorter the better. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule (there are plenty of world-famous brands who have longer names) but it’s a good exercise to help you focus on a moniker that’s simple and memorable.

Future-proof it

Avoid choosing a name that limits the products or services you might offer in future. If you have dreams of global expansion, avoid using a geographical region as your name – it might dilute your brand or confuse your customers later on.

It’s also important to check your name isn’t offensive (or laughable) in other languages, especially if the word is completely made up. If a word has two meanings, make sure you’re comfortable with both.

Check your name is available

Once you’ve thought of a name, make sure no one else is using it. has the tool ONECheck where you can check whether your name is available, and reserve or register your name. 

Test it out

Come up with a few names and try them out on customers, investors, co-workers and friends. You don’t have to take their advice, but their reactions can give you valuable data about how a name might be perceived. Ask questions about your suggestions to see if the names are giving the impression you want.

Help your brand go the distance

Once you've defined your brand, you need to live and breathe it.

Show don’t tell

What you do matters more than what you say. Your brand should shine through every aspect of your business: how you answer your phones, what you wear to meetings, your office, your online presence, how you travel, how you deal with problems – everything.

Match your voice to your brand

If your brand is friendly, be conversational. If it’s up-market or more exclusive, be more formal. Speak to your customers with a true tone of voice. Don’t slash prices if that’s not your brand. Be true to yourself and consistent with your customers. Build long relationships and loyalty by being authentic.

Express yourself

Create a unique and consistent look for your brand. This might include a logo, a colour palette, website, packaging, and all the other visual material that can tell the story of your brand.

Write a memorable and meaningful tagline that captures your brand’s essence. You and every employee should live and breathe it.

Protect yourself

If a customer has a problem, protect your brand by responding quickly and thoroughly. Think of it as a unique chance to find out about a problem, fix it, and build trust.

Starting a business

There is a lot to think about when starting a business, this video runs you through some of the things you can start checking off to get yourself open for business.

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