Giving Your Product an Identity Through Branding

(Photo Credit)

This post is Part 6 of our continuing series, Testing the Muse in Practice – our first real-time experiment.

In this installment, we’re going to push the limits of our creativity. It’s essentially a process of building a product and “brand” from the ground-up, so it resembles (from all outward appearances) a full-blown product offering.

We’ll go a little above and beyond what might be the bare minimum for Testing the Muse, but this stage is essential prior to testing. Because not only are you crafting a brand to test your offering, but you’re also setting the foundation for a real product, IF your testing proves positive.

The way I see it is that you’re putting in a little more effort up-front, to save time later, should decide to pursue the project commercially – you’ll already have a foundation to build on and refine.

This is cool stuff. And truth be told, out of the entire series thus far, this post has been the easiest for me to write because it’s fun. Hopefully this post can convince you of that, and give you practical pointers along the way.

Naming your product

Not everyone will agree with me, especially some more seasoned entrepreneurs, but I always start with brainstorming names for a product first. It’s fun and also helps give your product an identity; it gives it life!

I understand where the naysayers are coming from – don’t get caught up in the minutia of names or domains, and let that type of an obstacle become a showstopper. Many projects have been stalled, never to be rekindled, simply because they got hung up on trying to figure out “the right” name/domain/etc. That’s not me, so I won’t let it be you – Contact me if you ever want help brainstorming names/domains.

As mentioned, the first thing I want to do is give a product a name. In ideal conditions, the product’s name will clearly communicate what it is, what it does, and the benefit(s) it provides to the consumer. That’s a tall order, but sometimes it’s possible – consider many successful infomercial products, such as the “Slap Chop” (and it’s free bonus, “Graty”, the cheese grater) or Chuck Norris’s “Total Gym”.

You should ultimately aim for a product name that you can also purchase as your domain name (the URL for your website), and is also representative of your target keyword (discovered using Long Tail Pro during this earlier phase of the process), which will help when we begin Testing the Muse using online advertising.

To summarize, the product name(s) you want to brainstorm should be:

  • Clear on what your product does and how it benefits the user;
  • Relatively simplistic and catchy, shorter in character length is preferred;
  • Available to purchase as a domain, or at least be within the body of the domain, and preferably a “.com” domain;
  • One of your product’s primary target keywords, as identified during your research here.

Those are guidelines, not rules – here’s why:

For this experiment on my prospective product – an app for comparing used cars apples-to-apples – I was drawn to the concept of “This Car or That Car”. “Comparing Used Cars”, the primary targeted keyword phrase, just didn’t have the right ring to it (for me). It didn’t help that this domain was also already taken.

But “This Car or That Car” more or less gives the end-user an understanding of what the app does, within the proper context of it being a utility app, under the subsection of Automobiles. It’s not particularly short, but it’s simple and catchy. It almost gamifies the process.

The “.com” domain was available, which always tends to surprise me. I’m always baffled when I go to buy a domain that I don’t think anyone would want and it’s taken, and conversely when I want something I think would be taken, yet it’s available. It happens.

I always use 1and1 Internet for my domain searches, and purchases. I’ve found their prices are very competitive, they often have great sales on domains, and their customer service is top-notch. 1and1 Internet also happens to be the host for this blog.

This domain name was certainly not a targeted keyword phrase, nor will it be (at exactly Zero searches per month). But that’s not a concern to get hung-up on. The content of your website and ads can be keyword dense, and that’s how you’ll target those specific keyword searches – in this case “comparing used cars” or “used car comparison tool” – in order to bring seekers back to your site.

So, This Car or That Car, it is!

The domain was purchased at 1and1 Internet, as described above, and the domain has been “pointed” to a draft sales page on Weebly – quite simply the easiest, most intuitive drag and drop WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) website builder for Testing the Muse projects – and will appear here: www.thiscarorthatcar.com (not live yet). More on the website development in the next post.

Color Scheme

Again, this is so unimportant to some people… and it shows. For me, it’s gotta look good. We’re trying to sell people a [potential] product that could [potentially] help them – but you still have to sell it. In today’s design-obsessed world, it should at least look polished. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t.

Octonauts’ “Gup A” vehicle

With all of that being said, you’re going to laugh when you hear my inspiration for this color scheme: my son’s favourite toy this year – the Octonauts’ “Gup A” vehicle. Weird, I know. But I always admired the colors, and it immediately popped into mind as a palette I’d like to use.

There’s a little bit of method to the madness – the color options for stock vehicles is remarkably limited (and unremarkably bland for the most part). Given that most tools or apps that service this industry also take on this identity, I wanted something that would “pop” and stick out among the rest. That’s merely a personal observation/opinion, which you’ll often have to rely on. If people are going to throw around ridiculous terms like “Brain Science”, than I’m claiming Gut Science™ 😉

What are some great ways that can help you find an inspiring color scheme for your product, service or website? Look around your home for items – clothes, paintings, posters or advertisements – that you’re naturally drawn to. If you can get a digital image, it’s even easier:

  • Open the file in “Paint” (or any other basic design editing program);
  • Under “Tools” use the Color Picker (dropper) tool to select the main color you love from the image (or any of the colors you like);
  • Open “Edit Colors” and find your selected color(s) under the Custom Colors section. Click on the one you like, and you’ll be given the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) code that makes up this color.
  • Most HTML (website design language) uses HEX color codes, not RGB. So visit hex.colorrrs.com and enter the RGB to convert the color to HEX code.
  • You’ll need this info if you’re asking a designer to create something for you, or if you’re customizing your website.

Alternatively, www.colorlovers.com is a great source of inspiration for color palettes.

Warning – this becomes a bit addictive.

Logos and Icons

Since we now have a name for the product, a domain name for the website, and a color scheme to work with, it’s time to brainstorm a logo that represents your brand.

I already know I’m preparing to test a possible app – so it’s a must that I have an icon that people can picture themselves downloading and sitting pretty on their mobile desktop.

For apps, you could simply have just an icon, wherein the icon also serves as your logo. It doesn’t really make sense to have an app icon and then to have a completely separate logo that do not align in any way. The only instance where this makes sense is if your app (icon) is one of many under an umbrella company (logo).

Despite having said that, I still created a logo and a separate app icon (just so I could have multiple graphics for inspiration). At $5 per graphic using Fiverr, I almost feel I can’t afford not to have multiple designs created, as follows:

Icon

Draft Icon

Draft Logo

Draft Logo

All things considered, I don’t love how the logo turned out – what I envisioned and the final design didn’t connect. So I may use this as a graphic on the website, but not necessarily as a primary logo to represent the brand. Was it a waste to go through the process of having it designed? For $5, I think not. If you’re looking for a more professional graphic design experience, you should head over to 99designs, where top graphic design professionals bid on your project.

I do, however, love the way the app icon turned out. So, for all intents and purposes, this graphic will represent the brand, both as logo and app icon, perfectly.

 

Something to keep in mind here – you’re just testing an idea still; it’s all virtual. You haven’t printed out thousands of labels or paid for packaging or anything of the sort. No one would know if you ditched that name, or changed those colors, or went with a different logo design a week later in favor of another. Actually, you likely should test multiple names and designs.

Bottom line: you’re not married to this idea or name or website, it can always change. Long established brands go through re-branding exercises all the time to try to keep their image and messaging fresh. But, if your idea proves positive, you should aim to launch with your best foot forward – so put serious thought into what you’d like your end product to be (start with the end in mind).

Even if you’re not someone who enjoys the creative aspects of this process, while we’re still Testing the Muse, work to get something you are satisfied with and just run with it for starters. Better that, than to still be stuck searching for domain names.

Key resources mentioned:

Action you can take:

  • Come along for the ride! Sign-up below to get notification on the next steps (in addition to exclusive content, such as our FREE Quickstart Guide to Hacking Market Research, and The Architecture of Testing the Muse, and more!)
  • Let me know what you’re working on! If you’re testing an idea, or are working through this process by following along with my posts, let me know in the comments below.
  • If you’re not – why not start now? Start by dreaming up a logo (better yet, have someone else dream it up for you for $5 on Fiverr!) and work from there…
  • Please share this real time experiment with your friends and colleagues on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks!

Best Always,

Jonah

2 thoughts on “Giving Your Product an Identity Through Branding

  1. I appreciate you mentioning the key resources. Unfortunately, they’re so good I often get lost in them.

    • Happy to hear you’re finding them useful! If you’re getting hung up on any of the resources and need some additional help, contact me and perhaps I can put together a summary or tutorial.

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