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11 ways to build your online brand

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | July 27, 2016
Branding, marketing and small business experts share their tips on how to turn your startup into a recognizable brand.

One of the most difficult aspects of starting a business is getting people to know who you are. You may have a great product or a great service, but people want to know who you are as a company – what your brand is – before they buy from you.

So how can new ecommerce and multichannel businesses create a strong brand presence online, and off? Here are 11 tips.

1. Research your brand/company name – and register it. “Invest [time and energy] in naming your brand,” says Mihaela Lica Butler, founder, Pamil Visions, a travel and hospitality PR firm. “There are so many instances of unfortunate naming that may result in failure, despite [the company] having great products or services. (Urinal Tea comes to mind.)”

So when you get down to a short list of possible brand names, go online and see if there are other companies with those names, or similar names, and if the name you have chosen is considered offensive or would provoke a giggle in another language.

Then “make sure your mark [name, logo] is available for use and registration,” says Kathleen Lynch, an intellectual property attorney. (You can do this by going to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).) “Too many times I see people coming to me after they have spent a lot of time and money on a brand only to find out after they begin using it that someone else has prior rights.”

Once you’ve checked that it’s okay to use the name you’ve picked, “register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office,” she advises.

2. Make sure your domain name is the same or similar to your brand/company name.“When creating a brand from scratch, the first thing you should consider is finding a domain,” says Ella Cullen, marketing manager, IconPeak, which specializes in targeted mobile ads. “Brainstorm name ideas (aim for some relation to the benefits of your product/service) and use GoDaddy [or] to ensure that the .com version is available. Otherwise consider an .io domain, which is popular amongst startups.” Or go with .net or .org, if you are a nonprofit.

3. Create a great logo. “Your logo is the most important component of building your brand,” says Craig Bloem, founder, “It will be the face of your business and the foundation for all branding efforts. It should go on all your marketing materials – business cards, signs, shopping bags, boxes, pens, email and social media.”

So be sure to “create a logo and brand aesthetic that conveys your values, [and which] will [work] well on the brand’s website and also as avatars [on] social media [networks], such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook,” says Pamela Webber, CMO, 99designs.


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