We’re big fans of doing things unconventionally. A lot of content that you can find out there is littered with “systems” or a “step-by-step formula” for launching a business. We knew from the moment we stepped into this idea that there would be no order of steps we would take.
Here’s possibly the most stock standard checklist when it comes to launching a business:
- Come up with an amazing business idea
- Give it a kick-butt name and logo
- Make your products, launch your website, grow your traffic and make your first sale
But we’re not really fans of this notion. We’ve decided to progress with a zig zag approach to our business. For weeks, Ash and I have been scheming about our product, figuring out how we’re going to make money and even pinpointing our core customers. We’ve done all that, and we don’t even have a name to call our business by!
So this week we’ve finally tackled getting our branding basics down pat. And oh boooy, does it feel good to finally call our business by a name.
What we achieved this week
- We chose a business name for our business
- Ash did her magic and made an amazing logo and brand with the help of our followers
- I bagged a great website domain name and snatched up our social media usernames
The 3 elements of a basic handmade brand
I’ve made the mistake of coming up with a fully fleshed brand before thinking about making a product or building an audience in the past. It’s super easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need a whole lot of design assets before you can launch a business. But this is simply not true.
So, forget all the extra frills. You don’t need a $1,000 professional logo with a swishy brand book. You don’t need business cards. You don’t need printed t-shirts or merchandise. You don’t need a special email signature. Invest your time and money in launching and selling your product instead. Remember, you can always zig zag back to these items later.
We’ve found that we only needed three things to kickstart our brand. So this is what we’ve set out to finish this week:
- A business name so that we can register a website domain, our social media handles and shop usernames
- A basic logo that gives our brand a visual identity
- A banner that incorporates our brand colors and fonts – it’s kind of like a practical brand book
Step 1: Come up with a name for your handmade business
Confession: we actually started brainstorming our business name quite a few weeks ago. It wasn’t until recently that we sat down and actually tried to figure out if the names we liked were commercially available.
Start with words you love and expand on them.
We settled on loving the word “bold” but knew it was too generic and there was a high probability it was already taken. So, we decided to sit down and come up with variations of the world “bold” by adding words to it, misspellings and extensions of common words.
Here’s our final list that came from the word Bold:
- Bold Prints
- Bold Kids
- Bold Lifestyle
- Bold Home
- Bold Life
- Bold & Co
- Be Bold
Finding a name that’s available
Choosing a name for your business is more than just picking a combination of words that sound nice together. These days you have to consider a whole bunch of requirements before biting the bullet. Consider:
- A good website domain name. Getting a domain that ends in .com is the most memorable because it’s still seen as the default domain name extension. But these days so many .coms are taken so you need to be creative with multi-word business names or make the choice of registering with a different domain extension.
- Social media handles. Like your domain, you want your social media usernames to match your business name on places like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Even better, registering a username that doesn’t include any characters like underscores and fullstops helps with confusion and makes it easy for your customers to remember.
- Marketplace usernames. As we grow our business, a core part of our strategy would be to sell our items on different online marketplaces. We just have to make sure that we can nab a shop name that’s close to our business name on these platforms.
- Trademarks associated with your name. You don’t want to choose a name, only to find out that somebody else has already trademarked the name and has legal rights to use the name. You can use the WIPO Global Brand Database to check if your business name has already been trademarked.
We used Namechk and typed in our list of business names to see what domains and social media usernames were free. It’s a nifty little tool that lets you check if a name you want is free across a range of domain extensions and social media usernames.
During this process we actually changed our name a little bit with variations until we landed on something that had some great available domains and usernames. Say goodbye to those days of wasting time and emotional attachments coming up with the perfect name, registering it, only to find out that it’s taken and you have to start again.
Our name is…
After a little mixing and matching we came up with the name Boldlie & Co which was a variation of Boldly.
We were able to grab boldlie.co (for $17!!!) and have our social media handles to be a combination of @boldlie and @boldlieco. We love how simple the name is because we can refer to it as just Boldlie. It’s a bit unique as well, so there won’t be any confusion with the myriads of brands with the word “Bold” in their name.
What do you think of our name? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Step 2: Design a logo (on the cheap)
After we got our name, Ash got out the drawing boards and started designing our logo.
For this process, we didn’t really spend too much time conceptualizing a visual identity. It was mostly an experimentation of design elements that spoke to us. Our brand is a reflection of ourselves in the end! We went from combining a few colors, shapes and fonts to coming up with a logo that reflects what we want to be about. Check out some of the logos Ash made:
What if I’m not a designer?
We’re pretty lucky that Ash is a freaking amazing designer so we can quickly whip up designs on the go. But if that’s not you or anyone in your business, that’s cool, too. The point of these updates is to make sure there’s some useful takeaways even if you don’t have the same resources as we do.
Before you go away and spend $1,000+ on a logo, know that you can quickly come up with a professional brand in a matter of hours without spending more than $30.
Option 1: DIY your logo (it’s free!)
If you have a good eye for design and know your way around color combinations and what looks good, you can totally DIY your branding without being a professional graphic designer.
Canva has a range of logo templates that you can quickly save to your own free account and start customizing straight away.
You can quickly change the words, colors and add elements to your DIY logo – like what I did below.
Otherwise, if you really want to exercise your creative flair, bring up a blank canvas and play around with shapes, fonts and colors until you’re happy with your logo. If all else fails, just keep it super simple and use a font that you absolutely adore.
Option 2: Get a custom pre-made logo designed for $20
Tried your hand at editing a templated logo without luck? It’s not a bad idea to seek out some pre-made logo designers on places like Etsy, Creative Market and specialist sites like Design House Co to help you tweak and edit an existing design to make it yours. Many of these designers have a professional eye for space, styling and design fundamentals. They’ll edit the logo for you as well as change up the elements and move bits and pieces around until it feels balanced and unique.
Many of these go anywhere from $10 to $50. But for around $20 you can get something like these designs with your custom business name.
Step 3: Design your brand identity
Branding is not just about a logo and a name. A brand is the personality behind your business. Think what sort of person your brand would be if you could transform it into a human. Would he or she be friendly, serious or bold? (Can you guess which personality trait is ours?)
Other elements that define your brand identity is the language and tone you use in your product descriptions, your product photography, packaging, your shop design, fonts and colors. Your brand identity will continue to evolve as you grow your business but now is a great time to come up with a standard.
Normally in design we would come up with a brand book that’s an entire guide about colors, fonts and even rules about copywriting. To streamline things, Ash started designing banners for our social media and shop headers. With these, we could quickly come up with the colors, fonts and feel for our brand identity. It’s like a practical brand book that we can actually use once the business is launched.
One day we’d love to write up a brand book that includes all pieces of our logo and branding, but right now we just want the basics nailed so we can launch!
Making your own shop banner
Like your logo, you can DIY your shop banner on design software like Canva, get a premade banner designed on Etsy or look for fabulous templates you can edit on Creative Market.
We set our launch day – Wednesday 23 January! This day helps us to be accountable, make sure that we stay on track and take action.
Want to see how it all plays out? I’ll keep you updated on our launch next week but in the meantime you can now follow our brand new business, Boldlie & Co on Instagram.