For A Freelance Web Copywriter Keywords Are Key

For a freelance copywriter, keywords hold the keys to unlocking more organic search traffic

Keywords sit at the very heart of your SEO strategy. You can’t rank well for every word a user might type into their browser; you organize your goals and initiatives around the keywords you’ve determined will be most beneficial to your site and business. Of course, you’ll want to think about the obvious keywords, but the more obvious the keyword, the more chance there is serious competition for that keyword. So, to arrive at a good keyword strategy, you want to think about not only the words you’d love to own, but also about search volume, competition, searcher psychology and specificity. Also, it’s good to think in terms of one keyword per page of site copy. Most small businesses shouldn’t preoccupy themselves with a list of targeted keywords any longer than 10 or 12. Look to your SEO copywriter, whether freelance or in-house, for specific guidance based upon your unique business model, size, objectives, etc.

A keyword identification example in the case of an attorney

Suppose you are a lawyer in solo practice. Of course, you’d love to come up first whenever anyone, anywhere searches for an attorney or a lawyer. Well, it makes perfect sense to want that, and it certainly makes sense to telegraph to the engines that’s what your site is about. But when it comes to actually ranking higher and getting more traffic, you’d be wise to broaden your thinking. As quick examples: family law attorney, how much to write a will, inexpensive trust, lawyer near Beverly Hills, etc. The good news is there are many free tools online to help you identify potential keywords.

Where you or your SEO copywriting agency look to identify good keywords

Since you know your business or topic best, start by asking yourself which elements, products or services of your business are most likely to result in the best combination of high traffic with decreased keyword competition. Then, put yourself in the shoes of a prospect and ask, if he or she isn’t searching for me, what types of information might he or she be looking for? Then, I would take that initial brainstorm and couple it with what you can find by using sites such as Google’s keywords tools as part of their WebMaster toolkit and also offered in conjunction with AdWords. Did you know there are even sites that let you check up on your competitors’ keywords?  Again, your copywriter of SEO company should be able to point you in the right direction for good keyword selection.

Fresh Web Copy

Web copy that’s fresh yields refreshing search results

Fresh web copy is viewed by engines such as Google and Bing as an indicator of relevancy. Not only is timely information deemed to be more valuable, but frequent updates show that your site is being maintained, increasing the likelihood that you are a viable authority in your respective field. More to the point, the assumption is that users will be more satisfied in the search for information, with a bias toward “new news” versus old news.

But you don’t need to completely reinvent your web copy and content on a quarterly basis to maintain freshness. You can create a content calendar that includes updating just a single page once per week or month. You can blog regularly, as this is a great way to keep your web copy fresh in the eyes of the engines. You can post periodic news items and press releases to your site. Remember: when the engines crawl your site, they are trying to make a determination of value. If they discover a site that appears to be well-kept, well, that should outrank a site that has grown lazy and musty, right? Fresh web copy results in fresh eyeballs on your site, giving your web copywriter fresh opportunity to convert.

Four web copy freshness signals

The freshness of your website pages and copywriting, the actual dates and times they were last updated, sends a powerful message to the engines about whether they will be sending searchers to a “well-kept” store. The overall amount of changes you make further helps them determine whether you are simply “sweeping the dust bunnies under the rug” or you are making more than cosmetic fixes. The freshness of links, both outbound and inbound, further serves to establish the site’s vitality and relevancy. The frequency of your updates establishes a historical performance benchmark: did you just do a one-time spring overhaul or are you constantly in the process of providing a current and comprehensive understanding of your subject matter? Your web copywriter should work to ensure your web copy and content project a timely, top of your game, professional image.

Why page rank matters to a copywriter

Elements of Page Rank

Neither your copywriter nor you should confuse Page Rank with the position you occupy in the results when you search for one of your keywords. Though they are quite connected, your page rank plays just one role in your position. I think of it like a quality or validity score. Most everything discussed on these pages and in relation to search engine optimization is all about making incremental progress toward a higher position, sometimes influencing page rank and other times not. In addition to the content items mentioned on the previous pages, there are “infrastructure” components for which the value cannot be overstated. More on these in a bit. While Google used to use Page Rank as the sole determining factor in establishing positions, this is no longer the case. Page Rank is just one aspect of your “grade” as determined by Google, but it matters to your copywriter because it matters, or should matter, to you.

Page rank is exponential

In page ranking, it is often five to ten times more difficult to move up from a PR1 to a PR2 and from a PR2 to a PR3. We aren’t going to spend too much time on PR8, PR9 and PR10 sites because here you’re talking about the Microsofts, Facebooks, Yahoos and Googles of the world, the kingpins of popularity. For most small businesses, the jump from a Page Rank of one to a two is pivotal because it takes you out of the world of, say, anyone who might have thrown up a single page site on a whim – you really don’t want to be lumped into that crowd. To go from a two to a three is monumental. This is what separates the vast majority of sites out there, from those that take their organic search business seriously. Often, the difference between a PR2 and a PR3 is whether, assuming all else is equal with your search engine optimization, your site will show on the first page of listings because your page rank will “settle the tie,” so to speak. To go from a 3 to a 4 is epic, to use a word of the times, because now you’re really taking about some rarified air.

When you begin to talk about PR5, PR6 and PR7, you tend to be talking about the sites of major businesses and retailers, institutions, news outlets and the like, including blogger sites who’ve excelled at providing informational content, getting backlinks and engaging an active following or fan base. Their sites are huge, well validated repositories of content that are maintained for freshness. That’s why getting backlinks from these types of sites is so valuable … which, in turn, positively impacts your own page rank, though perhaps not as much as many think. But that’s not the whole story, either, because geography, freshness, user-generated content and social signals now play their algorithmic roles in helping the engines determine which sites should come up first and when.

Increasing Your Page Rank

Page Rank is an evaluation of how well you’ve done in creating a website in which the engines feel confident. Think of it as core character and trustworthiness. The overall size of the site and the age of both the site and the page play key roles. Think about it: a fly-by-night site that somebody put up to sell snake oil doesn’t deserve the same status as your website, so make sure it doesn’t! Other factors you want to be contemplating in the pursuit of a higher page rank include whether or not the site is listed in DMOZ and in which category. Inclusion in the Yahoo directory also plays a role in your page rank, as does anything else that confers expert status onto your site.

Technical elements in page-ranking

Many page rank technical elements serve to validate other search engine optimization elements. For example, suppose an engine awards you a first page listing because it sees lots of keywords and alt tagged pictures on your site that would seem to be relevant to the searcher’s query. But now let’s suppose when it sends traffic to your site that people don’t stay very long. Not a good sign. So they track that, too. Page traffic, page selection rate, time spent on page, bookmark add/removal rate, how they left, where they went, time spent on your domain… all of these (and more) influence your page rank. A decent SEO copywriter may be able to get them there for awhile, but a great copywriter keeps them there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEO Web Fundamentals

SEO web fundamentals

Your SEO efforts can only help you rise if you are building on a solid foundation. I equate the SEO website fundamentals with the preparation of a construction site – these are all things that can happen or may have happened even before your SEO web copywriter started typing. But he or she, your web design, web development company or your search firm, should certainly be able to consult with you in the direction of a properly optimized site, even when that transcends copywriting or design or whatnot.

Create an SEO website by first making sure you are building in brick.

Your SEO web copywriter should be quick to tell you that one of the absolute most dominant factors in today’s SEO is your domain name and its extension. Ideally, you want a top level domain, meaning a .com or one of the other most recognizable extensions. Though this could change, with a bevvy of new tld’s having been released in 2014, I tend to doubt it. I think a .com will continue to carry extra cache, both with consumers and with the engines. That said, if one of your keywords shows up as a top level domain, I think you’re going to have to work extra hard to maintain your position. How does your SEO web copywriter help you? By creating lots of great, unique, natural language content! What? Didn’t you read the previous page?! An SEO copywriter works to develop unique content, while balancing the user’s experience and the company’s need to promote its products or services with the search engines’ needs to see your site as a credible, validated source of relevant information.

Does a search engine optimized website mean I have to put a keyword into my domain name?

An SEO website doesn’t have to do any one thing – the upside to such complicated search engine algorithms with so many factors and weightings is that you have countless opportunities to increase your cumulative “score” – soar with your strengths, remedy your weaknesses, and let longer dwell times, backlinks and social shares affirm your authority in the eyes of the engines.

Most SEO web copywriters will tell you that if a great keyword happens to be in your domain name, as of today, that’s a definite plus. But, honestly, that could change any day, so don’t go considering it make or break. Many websites out there have a keyword in their domain name, but with flimsy content supporting it, so please don’t think for a minute the engines won’t prefer all of that juicy, keyword-optimized content your SEO web copywriter created just because it’s behind a clever, non-generic domain name. But if the competition has both the industry keyword AND the content to support it, well, get angry, I suppose. No, no! Don’t get angry. Just outsmart them in other ways. Build more links. Blog harder. Pay your SEO web copywriter more.

Website optimization: a few do’s and do not’s

Though many of these things fall outside of SEO web copywriting, you’re going to want to know them. So I’m going to tell you. You don’t want hyphens in your domain name; it smacks of impurity. You do, however, want to use them in your page names. Not underscores. Repeat: not underscores. Hyphens. Just not in the domain name part, but we’ve covered that already. Something else you don’t want: url’s of unusual length, the joke here being, of course, the reference to R.O.U.S.’s from “Princess Bride.” End of digression. Something you do want? Applied semantics and keyword stemming. These pertain to whether the engines deem you to be communicating holistically on your subject, which would include not just utilizing your keywords per se but terms statistically relevant throughout the field and variants (singular, plural, tense) that indicate a genuine discussion of the topic, as opposed to keyword stuffing. An SEO website is one that delivers value to visitors. Period.

 

 

SEO Web Content is King

SEO Web content: if you can’t beat the search engines, why not give them what they want?

Great SEO web content is the kind that actually informs and answers to a searcher’s need for quality information. And, yes, that information can absolutely be about you, your products and services, their benefits and what makes working with you uniquely great. You just want to keep your eye on being informative, helpful and valuable. As the web and the search engines evolve, it’s important to ask yourself or your SEO Copywriter: what do web searchers really want? What do we, as Googlers, really want? To visit site after site that has been cleverly optimized but fails to give us the information we’re really after? No. We want to learn! We want to captain our own discovery! Of course, it’s okay to sell…it’s more than okay to sell…but can you do it in a way that is helpful and informative, regardless of whether they choose to work with or buy from you?

 

Great SEO Web Content positions you as a subject matter expert.

There was a time when “expert positioning” was one choice amongst many for how to set your company’s stage in the marketplace. But today, everybody needs to be an expert in their chosen subject matter. Today, you send that message with a comprehensive site and pages that deliver lots of content, specifically lots of unique, high-quality content. The more content you have, the more natural your language can be, as the keywords will naturally slip right in. The natural outgrowth of that: lots of links pointing back to you as more and more sites discover your website to be a killer source of expert information. Beyond volume of content, quality and uniqueness of content, a natural use of language in that content and a good number of high-quality backlinks, keeping your content fresh sends a message of relevancy to both users and the engines’ crawlers. Master just these things and you will not only find yourself head and shoulders above most websites; you just might find yourself with top ranking! This is, of course, the end-game for great SEO web content.

SEO Copywriter

Your SEO copywriter: writing for humans and robots simultaneously.

 

An SEO copywriter must balance the need to help you rise in the search engine rankings with the need to connect to your real audience: your prospects, buyers and shoppers. In other words, due to these competing needs, he or she won’t be able to implement all of the search engine optimization tactics all of the time. Instead, you are looking for a mature, balanced approach. Since SEO and SEM represent such a vast and ever-changing topic, thanks to frequent algorithm updates by Google and the other engines, you need to be working with a person who can think beyond the binary. The best SEO companies and copywriters utilize a more sophisticated approach, based upon an overall strategy that factors in all of your website objectives, all of your traditional marketing and all of your inbound marketing techniques.

The expert SEO copywriter knows it’s about conversions, not just rankings.

On the SEO pages of this website and blog, you will find a boatload of quality information and expert SEO tips for your website copywriting and on search in general. Take this to heart, as nobody wants to build a website that nobody ever discovers. But also take it with a grain of salt. Nobody can do it all, and certainly not all in one fell swoop. After all, what good is a top position on Google if your ultimate site experience is poor? The ability to create site content that informs, engages and persuades is the hallmark of a veteran marketing copywriter. The ability to structure your website and compose that winning prose while also telegraphing the right messages to the engines is the juggling act of the SEO copywriter.

The best SEO copywriters know how to serve both masters.

To be a top SEO copywriter, one must start by being a top copywriter. You can’t learn the fundamentals of marketing and sales, branding or positioning from a YouTube video or a wikihow entry. You can’t cheat that part or try to learn them in reverse. Once you understand how to connect a target audience to a brand, business service or product, mastering sales psychology, creativity and language, you begin growing a s a copywriter. Then, you simply layer on these additional SEO responsibilities. Suppose you used every SEO keyword trick under the sun to garner a top position on Google. Do you know that you’d probably ultimately suffer in the rankings, due to high bounce rates and a lack of quality backlinks?

The SEO Copywriter’s goals: to get your website to rise in the rankings while still being able to get a rise out of your visitors.

Specifically about an SEO Copywriter’s dual objectives, for demonstration purposes these pages admittedly err on the side of search engine optimization. You’ll notice a frequent use of keyword in the subheads, supporting use of that keyword in the paragraphs below and some attention to semantics. But if I’ve done my job even partially correctly, I haven’t let those engine signals interfere too much with my interest in providing you some insight on the tension between being a great brand marketer and salesman and being a great SEO copywriter. Hopefully, you didn’t feel the extra mentions were too heavy-handed. Every time I used them, I tried to make sure I was adding more relevant information to the conversation. Have you learned more about the difference between keyword-stuffed websites from overseas and artfully optimized sites by creative content kings? I certainly hope so! The best SEO copywriters give the people what they want; they just do it in a way that satisfies the robots.

For First Impressions Your Company Name Is The Firstiest

Okay, so firstiest isn’t word. But here’s one that is: persuasion. Your sales process (persuasion plan) needs to begin far earlier than most think. The earlier you start thinking about your long-term structured sale, the more time and money you will save in the long run.

Considering just how much muscle a great company name can exercise in helping your company push past the competition and/or solidify a unique position on the landscape, even if you don’t have tens of thousands to spend, it’s certainly worth thinking about why the best and brightest companies do prioritize and invest so heavily into the company naming affair.

Be assured: they don’t simply enjoy throwing their money around; Boards and experienced Venture Capital firms regularly approve these substantial expenditures because they know you only get one chance to make a first impression. They know that when you’re trying to accomplish something truly great, like mothering a sustainable revenue stream into the world, you want everything going for you, nothing holding you back. Your name, tag and logo represent the three opportunities, your three ripest opportunities, to establish and pronounce your market presence and leave a permanent, positive impression on your target audience. So, like all things branding, when it comes to naming your company, the stickier, the better.

Time for Brand Naming

“How much time should we allow for our brand naming project?”

As for timelines, the entire brand naming process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months, with the smaller firms probably, though not definitively, demonstrating more flexibility and agility when it comes to working around your brand discovery, strategy and identity development schedule, your budgetary constraints and your other needs. A tagline generation should ideally be executed immediately following brand naming, which should account for another two weeks in your schedule. (As a line-item, an experienced brand strategist’s or professional copywriter’s tagline generation will cost anywhere from $2500 to $7500, depending upon the number of alternatives you require, which is often a reflection of company size and layers of bureaucratic entrenchment, whether there is a suitable creative brief in place, prior clients, industry stature, etc.)

For brand naming and for taglines, as with all of the creative disciplines, the more proven a talent, the higher the fees he or she can command due to the greater likelihood of increased quality with decreased risk. While you certainly want to be working with somebody who understands the business and marketplace clocks are ticking, it’s best to plan for, rather than rush, the time these mission critical initiatives take.

Please click here for more on Articulated Brands’ business names and company naming agency services.

Great Naming Takes Differentiation Beyond Good Intentions

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes has always been “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” I feel the same way about many things, especially differentiation. Lots of talk about it. You can practically hear it echoing through boardrooms across the planet, right now, even as you read this. Some are afraid “the competition’s gaining on us.” Some are proactively wondering what the business may look like in a decade. Most are trying to grapple with this fundamental question: if what got us to this point will not get us to the next point, then what the heck will?

Every business and every B-school grad knows that D word, and everything it stands for had better be written into your business plan and model. Obviously, wherever and whenever possible you’re going to want to build true differentiation — actual difference into your actual product and service offerings. You brand (communicate your uniqueness) to both capitalize on that differentiation AND to raise the barrier on the competition AND to lay a framework for moving forward that will continue to lead to new revenue and opportunity identifications. But all of these are based upon the WHY of your existence. What do you believe in? Do your markets (or brand audiences) believe in you? If you want the latter question to be answered with a hearty yes, spend more time on the first question. The more harmonious (relevant, resonant) your beliefs are with those of your prospects, clients and buyers, the more receptive they become. It’s the difference between looking at The Sale as a tactical car-salesman-esque maneuver and viewing it as a long-term relationship.

What does all of this have to do with great naming? It’s not enough to be kooky. While that’s certainly helpful from a retail, stand-out-from-the-crowd perspective, differentiation isn’t about being different just to be different. It’s about being different on purpose, which is to say that you have truly defined your company’s uniqueness and that you have done so with a close eye on the relative marketplace worth of that uniqueness.

What you can’t do (well, you can, but it’s not so smart) is say with one side of your mouth you understand the business imperative of differentiating and with the other side say that naming, brand discovery, brand strategy or marketing, for that matter, should somehow be easy side projects that aren’t really germane to the bigger business discussions. Are. You. Kidding? Connecting better with the people who feed you and pay your salary… engaging better with the people who make you look good or not… attracting and retaining the people who will fan the flames of your future… positioning yourself for valuable strategic partnerships… do any of these sound like small fish to you? There is no more pressing matter on your table than carving out a differentiated presence. I’m not suggesting over-investing in your brand, especially if you are a new or small company. But what I am saying is this: if you take the time to get your positioning and messaging right, if you treat them as importantly as you would if you were preparing a business plan for a bank loan, you will significantly increase your chances for accelerating your growth.

I don’t promise blue oceans to my clients. One, that’s just bad juju, not to mention bad form. Two, nobody’s offered me a budget or timeline that large yet. But what I do promise is that every undertaking, every consultation or work project, will be grounded and guided by that noble objective. It’s not that we get there. We don’t. But what we derive from that journey alone, because we didn’t deviate or compromise from that service effort, is worth at least ten times the price of admission. Because we’ve nailed our positioning and messaging. Because we have a new understanding of why this brand stuff matters. Because we know that our next steps will be informed by this new-found focus and clarity.

The best company names, like all other marketing communication initiatives, should be the natural outgrowth of all you’ve already done to define yourself. It’s not a search for an identity. It’s an identity in need of a easily-recognizable moniker. When you approach them in the reverse order, you miss a giant opportunity.

Considering just how much muscle a great company name can exercise in helping your company push past the competition and/or solidify a unique position on the landscape, even if you don’t have tens of thousands to spend, it’s certainly worth thinking about why the best and brightest companies do prioritize and invest so heavily into the affair. Be assured: they don’t simply enjoy throwing their money around; Boards and experienced Venture Capital firms regularly approve these substantial expenditures because they know you only get one chance to make a first impression. They know that when you’re trying to accomplish something truly great, like mothering a sustainable revenue stream into the world, you want everything going for you, nothing holding you back.

Your name, tag and logo represent the three opportunities, the only three opportunities, to establish and increase your market presence and leave a permanent, positive impression on your target audience. So, like all things branding, when it comes to great naming, the stickier, the better. (“Sticky” is a reference to Made To Stick, a truly wonderful book by Dan & Chip Heath, available on Amazon and, I’m guessing, at the world’s last independent bookstore, should that still exist.)

 

Types of Company Names

Before we begin to discuss company name types, three big caveats:

  1. This list of company name types is by no means comprehensive. It’s more like a starter course. It’s antipasto, okay? Also, lots of hairs could be split over how to precisely classify a group or a name within that group. But I don’t have that kind of hair. So, apologies to the angrily-commenting mobs who seem to so enjoy mucking up my interweb. We aren’t going to do that today. We are a peaceful lot. We will digest this internet-based information in a neutral and easy-going manner. We’re Switzerland, okay?
  1. Any naming agency or naming copywriter who thinks your choice of a preferred name type gets anywhere close to a strategy should be avoided like the sixth plague (boils!) I’ve mentioned this in a prior blog post, but it bears repeating. Sure, you can have your faves, and certainly your taste and stylistic preferences should be honored… just don’t confuse that with the real matter at hand: defining your core essence, defining the marketplace opportunity… and arriving at the delicious nougat where the two meet.

CREATED COMPANY NAMES

Yeah, this sounds kinda dumb. I mean, they’re all created, right? I coulda said “Made-up,” but that’s even goofier. Not that I’m against goofy, as this blog will no doubt prove beyond a shadow. By created, I simply mean a whole new word has been brought into the universe. Some of these will have direct connections to the English, Greek, Latin or otherwise meaningful root; some won’t. We also care about euphonics (good sounds) and mnemonics (ease of recall) — all of this will work better by example…

Examples of created company names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands® company name portfolio: Sequent Systems, JuicifyMe, Eukonic. Created company names by insignificant people whose blogs you aren’t reading now: Xerox, Yelp, Charmin.

EVOCATIVE COMPANY NAMES

Whether via historical or mythological allusion… by linguistic connection or by shear force of ingenuity, these name types tend to be emotional and experiential. My favorite name type here is synechdoche (no, we aren’t referring to somewhere back East; it means small for large.) Haven’t had a chance to do one of these yet… could you be the one?

Examples of evocative company names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands® company name portfolio include: Shine Candles, Workbench, InfoSing, Manifest Equity and Libretto Espresso. Many large corporations are embracing the emotional brand pull of evocative names, such as Pandora®, Staples® and Twitter®.

PRIMARY ATTRIBUTE OR BENEFIT-DRIVEN COMPANY NAMES

Just as it sounds. This company name type is more descriptive than anything else. If what you’re describing is great, great!

Examples of descriptive, attribute or benefit-driven company and product names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands’ company and product naming portfolio includes: Sympo, Smoky Joe, FastPort Series, Intellitoll Series. Descriptive company names from other corners of the world include: Jiffy Lube, Lean Cuisine (George Lois genius!), Two Men & A Truck.

METAPHORICAL COMPANY NAMES

See this one thing? It’s like this other thing. In a good way, natch.

Examples of metaphorical company names from Scott Silverman’s Articulated Brands® company and product naming portfolio include: Pawed Piper™, PassPort Series™, Sentinel Series™. If you’ve ever eaten a Red Vine®, shopped at Amazon® or interacted with an Oracle® database, you’ve come face-to-face with a metaphorical company name type. And you lived to tell about it. Yay, you!

CONJOINED COMPANY NAMES

People seem to worry about this category. They seem to be afraid of getting caught up into some sort of Greek-Latin polyglot mess. Yes, that’s a concern, but not a huge one. Not global warming. More like getting pooped on by a vengeful bird – doesn’t happen very often, but, ya know, keep on your lookout anyhow.

Examples of conjoined company names utilizing word combinations, hybrids and oxymorons include: Articulated Brands® and HarvestWaste™. Conjoined company names from obvious hacks include: FaceBook®, FedEx® and PaperMate®.

A WORD ABOUT USING ACRONYMS: DON’T.

Not only is it way old school, it’s also tres confusement. They require adoption over time, so unless your budget is massive, be careful with trying to finance name recognition for a new set of initials. Actually, even if you do have a massive budget, I’d still advise avoidance.

ON LITERAL & GENERIC COMPANY NAMES

Though extremely counter-intuitive, literal names tend to under-perform at the brand level, so be wary. But if you’re absolutely certain you don’t need local or even industry name recognition and SEO is your sole purpose for naming, consider adding a more distinctive moniker to your generic term. So, the formula for you would be {STICKY} + {LAME & UN-DIFFERENTIATED} = naming success, optimized!

In future blog posts, I plan to address my own company name… and why I chose, for business reasons, a seemingly generic set of terms. Notice how I said seemingly? Notice how I was able to get it trademarked?

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little escapade into company name types. I know I sure would have if I weren’t here working my little fingertips to the bone. All for you. All for you. And all of the names appearing here are the property of their respective owners, so I’ll probably get sued over this. Nice.

Costs to Name A Company, Brand Naming Fees

Company Naming Costs… and the even higher prices you pay when you don’t approach this vital business development initiative with sharp focus.

Sitting at the center of your brand identity and your entire marketing budget, your business name is an infrastructure investment, the cost of which must be amortized over its expected life. In too many start-ups and small businesses there is a “we’ll get to that later” mindset. But when what every start-up and small business needs to create is interest and excitement, is it any wonder that “later” is an opportunity never afforded to them? Think about what you will be spending in marketing over the next 3-5 years. Add that up. Now take a percentage of that for the role YOU think (not what I think) a name plays in solidifying your marketplace presence. Allocate that to your brand strategy work, inclusive of your naming costs.

Now, for the company naming cost deets…

Assuming a certain level of brand marketing expertise and sophistication, the strategic portion of the company naming costs can range from $2500 to $50,000 or more, depending upon the size of the company, how much research is indicated, how many rounds you wish to pursue, and whether it is part of a comprehensive branding process or not. But, again, there’s some very good news for you here: if you have selected the right company naming agency or brand consultant, the positioning work you do will inform, inspire and help streamline much of your future endeavors, so, done well, it’s actually a hedge against wasted dollars in the future. So, like all things, naming costs should have a built-in expected ROI based upon expected proportionate value. As for the added value provided by a branding firm or positioning expert, frankly, making sure we haven’t lost focus in our business development, and that we’re not chasing the wrong marketplace position, should probably be Priority One for all of us anyhow.

Costs for the creative part of the naming process, the name generations, can vary greatly, based upon how extensive your project is and the level of creative marketing expertise you’ve chosen to employ. Many of the big company naming firms employ a cadre of freelance copywriters or namers who submit names that are then filtered by the Creative Director, based upon his/her own internal criteria and philosophy. Obviously, all of this is built into your company naming costs. A one-person shop, brand strategist or freelance naming copywriter may simply dedicate an agreed-upon number of days or hours per round. Expect to pay anywhere between $5000 and $35,000 for the creative naming exploration phase if there is already a strategic brief in place, and, depending, of course, upon the experience level of the talent, the amount of thoroughness you require and, of course, your budget. Many firms do not include domain name availability and trademark searches, so this is something you will need to coordinate with your legal counsel.

You may not have the budget of an Apple® or a P&G® at your disposal, or even the budget of your direct competition, but instead of using that as a reason to take the matter of company naming less seriously, why not instead use that simple fact as your clarion call to work smarter, with more ingenuity and with more of a commitment to authentic brand creation? The more you think of your business as the brand you’re working to build, the more focused your every daily action will be, and the more you will have to show for your efforts in the long run.