Building the right image for your business
If you're launching a business, building the right image is critical to long-term market share, customer loyalty and profitability. But before you can build your brand identity, you need to settle on a trading and domain name, a logo and possibly a striking slogan that clearly communicates your products and services.
Choose a name
While some businesses use the founder's name (Myer, Dick Smith Electronics and Harvey Norman), others describe what they do - Qantas Airways, St.George Bank and comparison website finder.com.au.
A business name should be short and sweet, says Fred Schebesta, the founder of finder.com.au and a small business entrepreneur. "I believe the best business names are just one word - and it'll be even better if it's just one syllable," he says.
Choosing a business or trading name (not necessarily the same as the company name) can be complicated because there were 2.1 million actively trading businesses in Australia in June last year and if a name is trademarked, it's off limits. To check if a business name is in use, search government regulator ASIC's business names register at asic.gov.au. To register a business name, expect to pay $34 for one year or $78 for three years.
In the online world
Businesses must also consider their online image. A domain name is a valuable part of your identity and is an important marketing tool to attract customers online.
If you want to buy a .com.au or .net.au web address you need to be a commercial entity and have either an Australian company number (ACN) or Australian business number (ABN). To register your domain name go to the .au Domain Administration website (auda.org.au), where you can also find accredited domain resellers.
Web hosting company Netregistry says it's possible to pay $19.95 for a .com domain name for a year. With an .au extension, expect to pay up to $34.95 a year.
Hundreds of millions of domain names are registered worldwide and if your choice has already been snapped up it can be costly to buy it.
Schebesta says his company spent the price of a Sydney apartment to buy the rights to finder.com from its owner, "who had been camping on it for 15 years".
Logos and taglines
A memorable logo can be just as important as a trading name. "The importance of a logo depends on what you're selling," says Schebesta. "If you're in fashion, restaurants, bars or the fast-moving consumer goods sector, where image can be as important as the products, a logo and colour scheme will come into their own."
Some companies also develop popular taglines or slogans. For example, "Lucky you're with AAMI" has certainly helped the car insurer drive up its brand awareness.
Finder.com.au's tagline is "Find better". "However, it's not super prominent on our website, and I believe taglines are a bit old school," says Schebesta. "A great business name is the best way to go."
This seems like savvy advice, since outsourcing the development of a slogan to an agency can cost thousands of dollars.
Anthony O'Brien is a small business and personal finance writer with 20-plus years' experience in the communication industry.