Avoid a Marketing Mistake: Think Big or Keep it Personal

Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Business Management, Business Valuation, Marketing, Patents and Trademarks, Public Relations [ 0 Comments ]

There’s no better time to build a strong, sustainable brand than when a company is first being established.  However, for smaller, single-person businesses, there may be some question as to whether the brand should be based on the individual, or on a company name. This decision should ultimately be based on your vision for the future of the company.

Begin by asking where you’d like to see your business in thirty years.  Remember that when you’re ready to retire, you will have a client base and a lot of equity built up in your business. There are a number of successful individuals, such as Trump, Rogers, Eaton and Templeton, who have effectively used their last names as their business names.  If your plan includes a fair amount of expansion, then using your name is fine.  After thirty years of hard work, you can sell your name-based “brand” to the highest bidder, or you can go public, pocket the money and retire.

If your thirty-year plan doesn’t include this sort of expansion, you may want to consider a different approach.  If you choose to stay small and work on your own, or perhaps even with a small team of people, then you will still be putting in the same amount of hard work, and building equity.  If the company bears an individual name, and you only have recognition in your field and with clients, then people looking to buy your company will be less likely to care about your name, and more likely interested in your client list alone.

In other words, small businesses don’t generally build as much brand equity from the names of individuals.  If you plan to stay small, then creating a brand name is a more effective long-term strategy.  Doing this ensures that at the end of your involvement with your business, potential buyers will not only be interested in buying your clients, but also your reputation.  This is not to say that name-based brands don’t build reputations of their own.  However, for a small business, a name brand is more capable of maintaining its reputation and equity, even when the individual who built it steps away.

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