Skip to steps
- Know your target market
- Create your brand identity
- Register your domain name
- Create a website for your brand
- Secure social accounts
Before I explain the practical steps that are needed in order to create a memorable brand that people will love, it’s a good idea to understand why creating a brand is becoming a lot more important today, especially online.
According to a recent report by Sensibill, self-employment and entrepreneurship are on the rise across the U.S and Canada.
More people are choosing to either leaving their day job to start their own business — or supplement their day job with side projects.
And it’s a trend that seems to be growing…
“25 million American entrepreneurs are starting new businesses. 37% of which are delivering innovative products and services, the highest percentage in 15 years.
– Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
As inspiring as this is to hear, it also means that the competitive landscape for entrepreneurs has become, well… A LOT more competitive
A quick Google Trends search also validates trending terms like:
- ‘how to start a business’
- ‘how to make money online’
- and growing interest in ‘Instagram business’.
This means today more than ever, you will need to pull out all the stops to build an audience for your business.
Building a brand will help you achieve this, and it will also improve your organic ranking on Google which I explain in more detail below.
Google likes brands!
Due to the massive reach of Google, it’s important to realize the power of being able to rank well for on the worlds’ largest search engine.
Although this is not easy to achieve, it is definitely possible if you build a strong brand and focus on delivering value to your customers.
Google has always given preferential treatment to brands on search results.
If you perform any search on Google you will find that the top results are almost always well-known brands.
“Google has been placing more emphasis on brands. In other words, if you have a strong brand, you’ll rank faster.
– Neil Patel
So why do brands always rank better than other domains? Well, a big part of it comes down to one important thing — TRUST.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these websites have an abundance of high-quality content that is of huge value to its visitors, far from it!
In fact in the example below of the search “how to build a business” I believe the value of the content on the top brands like Inc.com, Forbes.com, and Entrepreneur.com, is generic, impersonal, and of fairly low quality.
This happens to be one of the many reasons I decided to start my own blog, FounderCopilot — A blog that gives entrepreneurs, designers, and marketers like myself, a practical resource for building scaleable online businesses!
Shameless plug 🙂
So if you are thinking of starting a successful online business, you’ll need to create a good, trustworthy brand.
Trusted brands will always get more traffic, and brands that get more traffic will make more ad revenue.
And who is the world’s biggest Ad network that makes most of its revenue from advertisers and publishers? You guessed it, Google.
Google knows that well-known online brands are more likely to be clicked on, as people are more likely to trust a known brand.
“70% of US consumers said they look for a known retailer when deciding what search results they click on”.
– Search Engine Land
Granted most brands who rank high on Google also have dedicated marketing teams and invest heavily in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and also paid channels like Google AdWords, Facebook, and Instagram.
However, being at the top of these paid results on page 1 is not always essential to success.
Due to the growth in mobile browsing, people have become more used to vertical scrolling.
Because of this, organic listings positioned around 5-7 on page 1 will also usually get lots of clicks.
Either way, trust is one of the most important factors for ranking on the 1st page Google, and two of the most important ways to achieve trust are:
- To create a strong brand
- To acquire quality backlinks from other trusted sources.
Therefore in order to compete with top brands that rank highly, the best strategy is to create a great brand that has better and more valuable content than your competitors.
A report by Neilson also highlights how customers around the world are more likely to buy products from brands that are familiar.
Whether you are creating a brand identity for yourself or your business, your brand is the first thing that your audience sees.
Therefore it’s important to create a memorable brand they will trust and go back to again and again.
However before you can achieve this level of trust, you’ll first need to understand who your target audience really is.
If you would like to know more about how to build your online brand organically i.e. without relying on Google AdWords, check out my related article What is SEO? A beginners guide to Search Engine Optimization in 2020.
Step 1 – Know your target market
The goal behind any good brand is to build an audience.
However, before you jump in, it’s essential to understand the types of brands people in your market are already exposed to.
A good way of getting these insights is performing a quick Competitive Analysis.
What is Competitive Analysis?
Competitive analysis is the process of researching your competitors and assessing their strengths and weaknesses. It is an essential business strategy that ensures you have a holistic view of your competitors by keeping track of the products they sell, the markets they sell to, and even understand their future strategies.
Competitive analysis doesn’t need to consume too much of your time; however the more you know about your competitors the better.
To strengthen your brand strategy even further, try to find out what people like and dislike about your competition.
How I collect unbias feedback with surveys
There are lots of ways to gather insights about your market, and the web offers a plethora of online services that allow you to connect with your potential audience.
The good news is that the methods even big brands use to gather insights about their market are surprisingly simple.
Both services allow you to write your questions to a pool of over 2.5 million.
Google Survey pricing is based on a ‘price per completed response basis’. So if you create a survey with between 2-10 questions, and want to receive 100 responses from the general population, it will set you back around $100 USD.
‘Screener questions’ will allow you to filter your audience to get more specific with targeting your market. And although the cost for this increases to a minimum of $3 per response, the value of the feedback you receive is going to be a lot better as it is more targeted.
For SurveyMonkey the cost is almost the same at around $100 USD. (Note the total in the screenshot is Canadian dollar as I’m based in Canada!)
You can then filter your ‘audience’ pool by choosing demographic attributes like:
- Job Status
- Marital Status
Once you have collected your responses you can then analyze the responses. Both services offer great data analysis tools once the survey is completed.
Step 2 – Create your brand identity
Once you have a good idea of who your target market is, you will be in a better position to create a brand your audience will relate to.
You can then confidently approach more specific things that will form your brand’s identity i.e. brand name, logo, color and fonts.
Create your brand name
As an entrepreneur myself, I personally find that finding a good business name can be one of the most challenging parts of the brand creation process.
However, there are ways to take some of the pain away by organizing your ideas and then validating them with real people.
A quick and dirty way I collect feedback
A quick and dirty, yet effective way of collecting feedback is to ask friends and/or colleagues.
It’s a good idea to keep track of first impressions when you tell them some of the names you are thinking of.
However, simply asking them what they think will not deliver good results.
A more thorough approach involves getting feedback on the following characteristics of your brand name:
- Sound – When you speak the name, how does it sound? Also, how does your name sound when other people say your name. Do people have difficulty pronouncing it?
- Distinctiveness – Does your name stand out amongst the sea of competition? What is unique about it?
- Memorability – How easy is it for people to remember your name? If you mention the name in a conversation with a friend, do they remember the name a week later if you ask them?
- Wow-factor – Does your name have magic or buzz associated with it?
- Use the following brand name evaluation survey I created in Google Docs (very quick and dirty)
- List all of your potential names in the left column
- Find at least 5 participants to rate each of the brand name characteristics listed above between 0-5. (0 is poor, 5 is excellent)
- Total your results, and you should have a clearer understanding of which names are stronger than others.
Note – My research method was inspired by fizzle.co’s name evaluator worksheet. I modified this a little for my own needs as I wanted to capture real-time feedback in Google Docs.
Create a logo for your brand
Your logo is one of the most important aspects of your brand, as it is one of the first things your audience see when they interact with your product or service.
Therefore its important to spent the time researching the type of logo that your audience will relate to.
As a designer I enjoy the process of designing logos for my ideas, however, the reality is you don’t need to be a logo designer to create a great logo.
These days you’ll find many online services that allow you to connect with freelancers who will design one for you.
Either way, there has never been so many online resources to help you research your logo ideas.
Wheather you are designer or non-designer, check out my related article How I created an awesome logo for my business from scratch
The article gives a more comprehensive look into the process of logo design and may even give you some inspiration for your own logo ideas.
Step 3. Register your domain name
When thinking of a brand name, one of the first things I do is check to see if the domain name is available.
If the name is not available, or if I notice that a lot of other websites use a similar name on Google, I usually move on. This is because I don’t want my domain name confused with another website.
When starting an online brand, the best domain names are the ones that do not have any competitors. This is what I like to call having a “clear runway” on the search engines.
Having a clear runway for your brand on Google can be difficult to achieve, but not impossible.
Take my brand FounderCopilot for example — in Spring 2019 when I was researching the domain name, I had no other competitors websites with the same or similar names, see screenshot below…
Once I realized the name was available and there were no similar names, I added it to the list. I then got feedback from friends and family using my brand name evaluation survey.
In the end, FounderCopilot received the most positive feedback I was happy to register the following domains:
How do I register a domain name?
You’ll need to register your domain name with what is called a domain registrar and/or a web hosting service.
The process of finding a good TLD (.com .co .io .ca) that matches your business name can be time-consuming, especially if you haven’t registered a domain before.
I personally love NameCheap’s mobile app as it checks the availability of a name once you have entered it.
This can be a huge time saver as you can enter names as you think of them and the tool will quickly tell you if it’s available or not.
It may not sound like much, however, if you’re like me and your checking 10-15 names every hour, using this tool will make the process a lot easier.
Here is a list of some my top 3 domain registrars based on price and ease of use:
What’s the cost to register a domain?
Securing your own domains name is relatively inexpensive, and the cost ranges anywhere from a $3 to $100 per domain name.
They are usually charged on an annual basis and can be cancelled at any time.
Personally, If a domain name I like is available, I usually reserve it for at least one year.
This way I can hold on to it while I research my idea and decide whether to develop it further.
It also gives me peace of mind that no-one else can register the domain during this period.
It’s important to note, that most registrars discount the cost of the domain for the 1st year of registration.
However, watch out for the renewal price once the 1st year has expired — the regular renewal rate can be up to 3 times more!
Here is a rough breakdown of the costs you can expect for each type of web domain or “domain extension”:
|.COM||$8-$15 CAD approx.|
|.CO||Regular price is usually $30 CAD approx depending on the registrar|
|.IO||Regular price is usually $40 CAD and up depending on the registrar.|
Choosing the right TLD extension
The most valuable TLD’s are .COM, .CO, .IO and .AI as they are all recognized globally.
When I do find the right name, I usually start by trying to secure .COM .CO .IO domain extensions for my name.
As I am based in Canada, I also aim to secure .CA also.
Good .COM domains are extremely hard to find and I usually don’t hold out much hope of securing one.
You can also be lucky and find the right name by appending catchy, unique keywords that you think will resonate with your audience.
However, if you have a catchy brand name and you find that .IO and/or .CO domain is available, go ahead and register it for one year.
With so many first time discounts available on domain nowadays, all you stand to lose is the same cost as a dominos pizza!
Step 4 – Create a website for your brand
Due to the success of many brands and personalities on social networks, creating your own website can sometimes get overlooked.
However, if you want to think like an entrepreneur, you should think long-term and build a scalable brand that does not depend entirely on social networks.
Your own branded website can help you achieve this.
Whether you want to promote your brand via a blog or sell products or services online, there has never been a better time to lunch a website.
Choosing a suitable platform
Before you create your website for your brand, you’ll need to decide what platform to build it on.
With so many options available today, it can be a confusing process.
Or perhaps you are looking for a something a bit more scalable, and you’ve heard good things about WordPress.
“34% of the web uses WordPress, from hobby blogs to the biggest news sites online.
The answer really comes down to, what you hope to achieve from your website.
Some of the world’s leading brands build custom web applications using modern web technologies like Angular or React.
These technologies are both flexible and scalable and work well with e-commerce services, online payments, and affiliate networks.
However, working with these technologies requires a certain level of expertise, and if you don’t have it you’ll have to hire someone to do it for you.
This can be an expensive game if you don’t know what you’re doing.
My advice — keep your costs as low as possible.
These platforms will deliver scalable services exactly like the ones I mentioned above (online payments, e-commerce), and best of all, they are easy to use and completely free.
I personally developed FounderCopilot on WordPress. Some of the reasons I chose WordPress to include:
- It is a well-supported platform that has a massive online community.
- It works great with SEO best practices.
- It is capable of scaling when necessary.
- It is super easy to use.
For more information on WordPress, check out my related article 5 solid reasons I chose WordPress for my online business
Step 5 – Secure your social accounts
The 5th and final step is to remember to secure your brand’s social accounts, ideally by reserving a custom URL, also called a brand page on Facebook / Instagram.
To clarify, having a custom URL that matches your brand is not essential, it just looks a lot cleaner, and it reinforces your brand identity.
How to create your own custom URL
For Facebook / Instagram, you’ll need to create your own brand page as seen below. Once you’ve completed this step, you will have a custom URL.
The steps for reserving a custom URL on Linkedin are slightly different however most of the same steps still apply…
Twitter does not require a brand page, instead, you can check to see if a custom twitter URL is available by going to your twitter profile.
Simply go to your profile, delete your username and enter your brand name to see if it’s available.
If available, you’ll need to create a new account and repeat the process, assuming you want to keep your original Twitter account!
Reserving a custom URL on Twitter
Following these steps will point you in the right direction and give you a good foundation to work with.
However be aware that creating a brand takes time and patience, and at the end of the day, it’s really about what you do with your brand that counts.
As I mentioned in the introduction, Google is looking for brands that deliver maximum value to its audience — So if you focus on building trust and authority in your space, this will give you the best chance of success online.