In the third addition to the “How to Start an Ecommerce Store” series we will go over how to choose a proper name and logo for your business.
Q: Which is considered some of the best business names of all time?
A.Google, Twitter, Under Armour and Jiffy Lube
B.Knobs ‘n Knockers, Dimdim, Amedisys and Fifth Third Bank
If you guessed A, you are absolutely correct!
Whoever thought that Knobs ‘n Knockers would be a good idea? It’s tagline is: “If you can dream it, we can provide it.” That sounds incredibly provocative (that’s putting it mildly). Actually, many of the 15 of the Worst Business Names in History, many are offensive and have sexual overtones that may have been an attempt at humor but failed miserably. There’s a fine line between clever and offensive. And you don’t want to end up on the wrong side.
Naming your business is one of the biggest decision you will ever make as a business owner. No pressure – but this is one decision that you must get right. Hopefully, the first time around.
In Part 2: Branding Your New Business, you learned that branding isn’t your name or your logo. Yet, branding does have a big role when deciding on the symbols of your new business. Here’re are some guidelines to choose the right business name and logo to match the brand image you want to build.
How to Start an Ecommerce Store: Questions To Ask Before You Name Your Business
Amazon wasn’t the first name Jeff Besoz wanted for his “everything store”. He also considered Awake.com, Browse.com, Aard.com and Relentless.com (which still redirects to Amazon to this day). Relentless could be the name of an awesome business, but would have been horrible for a growing online retailer.
An incredibly tough law firm, perhaps? Bounty hunters? Spy equipment?
Since your business name is obviously connected to the brand you are trying to build, the tone has to match exactly. Quirky, professional, creative, quality, affordable, fun, serious, exciting, rare, and strong are just a few tones to consider. Of course, you may want more than one tone (and that’s okay). Just decide on the major tone you want to convey, like fun. You can also be affordable or rare, but you would want the name to convey fun first.
Here’s a list of questions to help narrow your focus and choose something that will reflect your new brand image:
- What’s your primary tone? (choose one)
- What’s your secondary tones? (choose a maximum of three)
- Do you want to use part of your given name? (for example, Liesha’s Lipsticks)
- Do you want a straightforward name or use a pun?
- Do you want to use a made up a word (Google, Twitter or Yammer)?
After you get a sense of what direction you want, brainstorm a few ideas. Don’t try too hard to be clever. It defeats the purpose if no one understands what you’re saying. Pun names only work if people get it.
Once you have a few decent ideas in mind, ask these equally important questions:
- Is the name available? (you can check GoDaddy to see if anyone else has that domain name)
- Is it too short or long?
- Is it offensive on any level?
- Does it match your intended tone?
- Is it trendy or will it last the test of time?
- Is it easily forgettable?
You should have a solid idea or two after asking these questions. Now it’s time to ask other people what they think of your chosen name.
Maybe you believe your new business name is clever and it makes total sense to you. But maybe your friends and trusted advisors don’t get it. Don’t settle on a definite name until you’re completely satisfied that it communicates exactly what you want it to say and you believe that your target market will love it.
Once you’ve settled on your business name, check out the laws in your local area and follow their steps in claiming your business name.
How to Start an Ecommerce Store: Your Customer’s First Impression – Logo Color
Now that you have a business name, it’s time to make that name come alive. Your logo will be the visual representation of your business. It’s one of your customers first impressions of your new business. Not to overestimate the importance of your logo, but it has to be perfect when you only have a few seconds to attract customers.
Blue is sad, yellow is happy, and purple is regal. Green and is the obvious color for sustainability and environmentalism.
Let’s say you love the color blue, but want the tone you want to convey for your brand is power and strength. Black and red both symbolize power, and blue can symbolize peace. Choosing black and red doesn’t automatically mean your logo will be a success, it’s just another important piece of the overall brand puzzle. Never go with your favorite color just because.
Here’s a quick overview of primary colors and their meanings:
If you want to go into more detail, check out these color resources:
- Color Wheel Pro – See Color Theory in Action
- What Color Should Your Branding Be? (asks 7 questions to determine the best color)
- Color Meanings
Don’t get too wrapped up in choosing the right color, as many of these have multiple meanings. Yellow can be both happiness and betrayal. Green is both good luck and jealousy. Just try to match the overall tone of your brand image with the color that helps communicates that message.
How to Start an Ecommerce Store: Avoid These Embarrassing Logo Mistakes
You want your business to make the “Best of” lists. It’s an honor. Except when it’s the “Worst Logo Fails of All Time”.
These logo’s all started out as an idea. Somewhere along the way they took a very bad turn. To save yourself from creating a logo that will live in infamy, here’re are a few basic rules to follow when choosing a logo.
Always Get a Second Opinion
I am amazed by the number of logo’s that have some sexual overtone that no one noticed. This one can either be seen as a man and woman dancing, or the torso of a naked woman. Once you see it, there’s no unseeing it.
Always get a second opinion, especially if you’re using icons.
Is it Kid Exchange?
Or Kid Sex Change?
There’s nothing wrong with the name Kids Exchange, but Kid Sex Change raises a lot of questions that have nothing to do with the actual business.
Don’t Try To Be Too Clever
It’s not wrong to have a cat in a business logo for Catwear. But using the backside of a cat to make an “A” probably sends the wrong message. Thankfully they’ve updated their famously bad logo to something more appropriate for ladies clothing.
Expensive Graphic Artists Aren’t Always Right
The next two are considered some of the worst corporate logos in the world. The first was for the 2012 Olympics in London where 48,000 citizens signed a petition to scrap the £400,000 logo redesigned.
The second is for Microsoft’s failed digital media player Zune. The designers wanted to be extremely clever and thought it should be displayed backwards. It tried to be trendy and hip. Unfortunately, many customers thought it said “anus”.
Although you may hire a graphic designer to create your logo, don’t forget they are only human and are capable of making mistakes.
Keep It Simple
This one has a catchy name: Cowboy Sharkies American Grill & Sports Bar. Logo inspiration could be cowboys, sharks, America or even sports. Even a shark in a cowboy hat would have worked. Instead, the designer tried to do everything. Catchy name, colorful letters and even a shark on fire.
You can’t have everything in one logo. When in doubt, always keep it simple.
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign logo became synonymous for the slogan “I’m with her”. A New Yorker cartoon shared that “I’m just not entirely sure a big red arrow pointing right is the best logo for a Democratic candidate, is all.”
Yet, my issue with this logo has nothing to do with the concepts of the logo. It just uses a very recognizable road sign for hospital. Never use a shape that copies a well-known, established logo.
Concepts Don’t Always Translate
Branding is conceptual. You’re taking intangible ideas and translating them into your actual logo. You want your customers to get it.
But here are two logo’s who had a decent concept that went very, very wrong. The first is the location-based app Highlight. In an attempt to highlight the word highlight, all the designer did was give us a headache.
This one is from the paint store Sherwin Williams. The concept is quite simple. Let’s cover the Earth with Sherwin Williams paint. Except it looks like a can of blood covering the earth. This concept definitely didn’t translate well.
In the end, you want your logo to be the graphic representation of you and your business. Just make sure it’s communicating your exact message, without some unexpected (although humorous) consequences.
How to Start an Ecommerce Store: Play to Your Strengths: DIY Or Outsource
As a new business owner, you want to be good at a lot of things. Management, marketing, accounting, taxes, social media, strategy, and a hundred of other business things. Yet, we all have our limits. And it’s up to you to figure out your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses.
Try making your own logo if you’re an experienced graphic artist or you want a very simple logo. I made this one using a Canva text template. They have a ton of text and logo templates and are extremely easy to use. I’m not an artist, but I’m comfortable customizing a template like this one.
However, there are extremely affordable options if you’re not the artistic type. Fiverr has talented graphic artists that create great logos starting at $5 (although most have a basic package starting at $15-$25). You can also try 99Designs, which is more expensive but has a money back guarantee.
One of the biggest lessons you can learn in your new business is that you’re not good at everything. No one is. Since this is such a big decision for your business, get help if you need it.
How to Start an Ecommerce Store: Building Your Digital Platform
As an Ecommerce store, you won’t have an “Open for Business” sign. Your new business will be open around the clock, every day of the year. Your business name and logo will be one of your customers first impressions of you and your products. They are the first step in building your online platform, which will include your website, marketing, social media and everything else you’ll do online. You want your business name and logo to be memorable, not blah.
It’s a big deal, but don’t get overwhelmed. This is actually an exciting part of building your new business. Brainstorm a few ideas and let them simmer a while. Don’t settle and never choose something unless you’re absolutely certain you made the right decision.
Have fun and be creative!