When drafting this article I thought it would be more helpful for you if I described the process we went through to develop the new name, brand identity and service offer for StrawberryFinch. As I can share more with you because we are not talking about a confidential client project.
Work backwards from your market
When developing a new name for a company or brand, you have to think and work backwards from your target market. What are your ideal clients or customers like? What is your specific value proposition for your particular market segment? What advantages do you offer them when they chose to work with you? What emotional benefits will they enjoy?
The stages in the process
You need to go through the following stages to develop a cohesive proposition.
Value proposition design
Story design and experience design
Name and strap line development
Brand identity design
Value proposition design
I know for instance, that our best clients are medium sized companies who have an entrepreneurial spirit and ambitious to grow, who operate in B2B markets with a lot of competition but little differentiation - apart from price. They’re grappling with big shifts in the way that their clients search out and buy from them. They need to dramatically improve their digital marketing and communications. Also they need to redefine their clients’ experience and to reorganise themselves around what they say their brand is promising to deliver. They need specialist skills and support from people like us who understand them and where they need to go. But they do not have the time or resources to recruit and support a full time team at a challenging time.
Story design and experience design
How you present your value proposition or ‘brand promise’ by telling your story will determine whether you will be successful or not. How will your clients or customers experience your products or services? How do you want them to feel? What will make them loyal?
I looked at websites by other design, marketing and branding agencies to see how they were communicating their offers. I have also worked with different agencies over the years and pulled on this personal experience. For me poor communication has most often been the biggest issue that has affected how I felt about a particular company or person.
What are you going to be and where are you going to work?
I thought about whether we were going to be a team, a group or a collective and to describe how and where we worked - in an agency or a studio - or as the French would call it, an atelier.
Name and strap line development
It is very easy to waste time listing hundreds of possible names. So prepare an early draft of your value proposition and a create a list of categories for possible names. This will act as a framework and will speed up the naming process and shorten the cycle for the development of your strap line.
Categories for possible names
These are the categories we used for StrawberryFinch. Yours will be different.
1. Bird names
I like birds and admired the advertising agency from the 1980s named after the Yellowhammer finch and remember flying to Toronto with them on a joint pitch to a prospective client. However, the domain names of the British birds names I wanted were already taken.
Entrepreneurs have to be confident and to be leaders, not followers. I liked the words 'brave' and ‘fearless’, especially since I was setting up in the middle of a global pandemic. However www.fearless.co.uk was not available and so I would have had to go with www.BeFearless.agency or www.thefearless.studio.
I could have put the word branding in the domain name, www.fearless-branding.co.uk. This was as close as I got to coming up with a name that describes what we do, but I did not want to fall into the ‘Carphone Warehouse’ trap. Also, it was too long and had a hyphen in it which makes it difficult to remember.
3. Craig Thatcher
It would have been easy to stick with my name, Craig Thatcher as I already own www.craigthatcher.co.uk. However, this venture was never going to just be about me, so I felt that its should have its own name. Also, Nic Cornwall made a good point when he said to me that “if you call it Craig Thatcher nobody will ever ask why you named it after yourself”. With an intriguing name, you have the opportunity to conjure up something new and completely different.
I tried to find a single word containing the same letters as Craig Thatcher and ‘Character’ contains 9 of the 13 letters. I could see a good story around the word and about it being unique, which is essential in branding terms, but only 13 out of 13 would have been good enough to make this one work.
I really liked the concept of working in harmony with clients and like-minded creative professionals and was attracted by the word ‘Together’, but the .co.uk domain was taken and ‘Altogether’ was second best. Harmony reminded me of a dating website.
6. Coat hanger
There is something special about an everyday word that appears in an unexpected place and taken out of context. It makes you stop and think. So for a while I though about the two words 'coat hanger'. For those who know me, you’ll understand why this even a category. Although I did discount it quickly.
Top Level Domains (TLDs)
As you know, it is difficult to find a domain name that has not already been taken and so new TLDs has helped ease the situation. .marketing, .design and .agency were just three of the TLDs I looked at.
The fourth was .one as I liked the idea of www.the.one, www.only.one or www.become.one. This is why many companies make up completely new names or combine words so they can register the domain names. But I thought it sounded a bit cheesy.
The shortlist of possible names
Once you have made a long list, it is easy to discount the names you don’t like and leave the ones you do until last. I got very close to ‘fearless’ and dropped the rest for the reasons already mentioned.
Why the name StrawberryFinch?
During a stage in the process I decided to put two words together that you would not expect to see and made up StrawberryFinch. I also practiced saying out loud ‘my name is Craig Thatcher from StrawberryFinch’, to hear how it sounded back to me and how it made me feel. Also the www.strawberryfinch.co.uk domain name was available.
I decided on this name because of my deep knowledge of branding and lifelong interest in the naturalist, Charles Darwin. I maintain that there is a strong parallel between the survival of Darwin's fittest finches in the Galapagos Islands and modern day brands adapting to challenging business ecosystems in order to thrive.
StrawberryFinch is also a name that takes the familiar into a new space. Creating a strong visual image, evocative with colour, fragrance and possibilities. Yes, it is also a real bird.
Developing a strap line
When you have a name that is not descriptive of what you do then a strap line is a very good way of achieving this. I thought about a strap line that describes what we are and what we do but that is a lot to get in three or four words. So I began by writing down a list of alternatives as follows;
We are a creative branding agency. We are your virtual creative studio. We are a group of brand builders and storytellers. We make brands stronger and more successful.
Then I matched them back to the idea about finches and Darwin and his theory of evolution which is all about the survival of the fittest species. This is particularly relevant nowadays when everyone is having to adapt to a rapidly changing business ecosystem.
So I decided on the strap line - makes brands stronger & fitter
Brand identity design
My brief to my designer, Marios Flourentzou was to develop a simple brand identity that was flexible and could work across lots of different types of media and applications. Initially we looked at the word marque, StrawberryFinch and then at the bird logo. You can download our initial presentation document.
Origami bird logo
We decided to simplify an origami bird to represent a finch so this could be used where there is little space, eg as a favicon.
Short, simple animation
I have used a very short and simple animation to combine the name or word marque with the origami bird logo and the strap line. This GIF can be used as a standalone item on a web page, at the start of a keynote presentation or when converted to an m4v file, it can be used as an intro and outro to a video clip or film.
Nunito Sans font
I explored lots of alternative fonts and eventually chose the Google font Nunito Sans because it is a sans serif typeface, looks contemporary, and uses space efficiently. Which means that I can use a line spacing of 1 as opposed to 1.3 and body copy is still easy to read. As a Google font, it works digitally and in print and because there are 14 different weights in the family there is plenty of scope.
Lulo Clean One Bold font
This is the second font we use on the website for key headings as it pairs well with Nunito Sans.
We selected eight colours for our palette giving a contemporary look, feel and flexibility, with the two colours at the far right forming the primary colours as can be seen in the image below.
Combining the main image and simple text animation
This simple animation works well. You can see that I have flipped the image so that it is easier to read the words on the darker background.
The variety of images that I use is varied and depends on what, when and where I'm trying to communicate. The ten selected below form part of the self-playing presentation you can see further down this page.
Tone of voice
We have an informal tone of voice for copy on our website, in our written proposals and reports. I write as if I’m speaking to a single person, put them centre stage and go from there.
We have designed a suite of business stationery including email signature, proposal documents, keynote presentation and slide deck templates as well as a range of other items to help communicate in our wonderful, multi-media world.
Nowadays brands have to communicate across audio channels. To communicating their identity and key messages they need a sound logo, distinct sound elements and a music theme to support the overall tone of voice of the brand. So I am creating a suite of sounds, that can be used in podcasts and for other recordings. One possible sound could be the word StrawberryFinch spoken and turned into a series of notes by clarallel.com and you can see the score here. This is no substitute for having sounds and a soundscape designed professionally but was fun.
I have also converted the song of a Strawberry Finch into a sound file and use it as a ring tone on my phone.
The Strawberryfinch soundtrack
I searched a number of libraries for a soundtrack that would express the StrawberryFinch personality. It had to be upbeat and inspiring, but not too overpowering when used as part of a presentation of with animation or graphics. The track is called Baby Bird and was written by Chelsea McGough, performed and produced by Marie.
You can hear it on the home page.
I liked the composition because it sounded interesting and engaging throughout. The track had a good, clear start, an interesting middle and a good finish. So I can use the different segments of the track at the beginning and ends of presentations or animations.
It also had a stem file, which is a track that is split into four musical elements for keyboard, percussion, strings and wind instruments each separated out, which gives me options for a cleaner, pared back sound for certain applications. For example, I’ve used a short segment of the wind instruments for the animation of the StrawberryFinch logo and strap line.
The soundtrack, images key messages and animated Strawberryfinch logo all come together in this self-playing presentation created in Keynote.
An illustrative style and further animations
I am working on an illustrative style and animation graphics as both forms of communication are simpler and more engaging than text. Even small animations can draw a viewer in and tell a story in a way that words can not always achieve.
In terms of photographic style, we do not have any hard rules for image usage apart from that they should be clean and uncluttered. Ideally shot with a narrow depth of field (blurry background) so that your eye is drawn to the main focus of the shot.
Cropping can help create space for a text overlay.
Films As a film producer, I commission shorts for my clients and so none are branded StrawBerryFinch. Although when on location, I take my own shots and by adding a light colour wash and texture overlay they can work happily on our website.
You can see this short clip on one of the pages of our website treated with a light colour wash and texture overlay.
A range of merchandise
I plan to create a small range of branded merchandise to give away to clients and colleagues.
I am putting together a StrawberryFinch cocktail recipe to share with everyone and will explore some other recipes that include strawberries.
What would the StrawberryFinch scent be?
Branded scents are another subtle but important form of communication so I plan to create a scent for our studio that is fresh and distinct.
Chapter 8 in the Continuous Branding book is a case study on creating the name and brand identity for Rapport Guest Services and chapter 9 sets out your branding journey. You can buy the book in paperback, ebook or in audiobook from Amazon. Buy now.
Get in touch or give me a call.