Being a faceless assassin may have worked for Arya Stark, but unfortunately companies kinda do need an identity.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain the benefits of branding to you. Branding improves recognition, creates trust, generates new customers and ultimately has financial value. This is my quest in finding my brand.
Coming up with a name for my business: hands down, was one of the hardest tasks I faced in the very beginning. There were sooooooo many boxes to tick: it had to be relevant, cool, catchy, original, able to be trademarked and there had to be an available domain name and social media handles.
The trademark factor was the biggest hurdle. Initially I thought that you can’t use a name that has already been trademarked (obviously) but if you want to lodge a trademark yourself and there is an existing company with a name that even remotely sounds like your name- you won’t be successful. And because I have international aspirations, companies with similar names abroad will be a problem.
For every name I came up with I checked if the handle was taken on the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram). I also used Go Daddy to check domain names.
Eveeeeeentually, after a lot of consultation with family and friends, I settled on the name: ENTRI. I kept this message I sent to one of my friends:
“OMW, I’m still thinking of a name. What do you think of “Entri” it’s not really self-explanatory at first but it relates to Entrepreneurs and the “i” comes from like how someone who loves food is called a foodi. The “I” also stands for information. This platform should be the entry point that start ups and other entrepreneurs go to find information. For the logo, I’m thinking something very simple with just the name Entri with a light bulb on the “I”. What I like most about Entri is that is short, catchy and unique and I don’t have to worry about trademark issues.”
Within two weeks of the entri.co.za domain being available and me instructing the lawyers to file the trademark (more on that later)- it was taken 😒 entri.com was available but it is one those where some random buys random domain names and sells them at the profit. They wanted to charge the equivalent of R60,000 😱 I thus settled on entrihub.com although the trademark is Entri. Not ideal but oh well…
My developer’s graphic designer created my logo as I envisioned it in my message to my friend. It had the light bulb and everything. My slogan was “the key to entrepreneurship”. However, a few months later and before my website launched- I looked at my branding and was like “nah… it simply is not working” I contacted one of the ladies I interviewed that specializes in “Corporate identities”. I first thought that it would entail everything from logo design, slogan, look and feel of websites etc. Alas, I was mistaken. She only designed logos, business cards, letterheads, email signatures etc. I needed to get a copywriter to assist with my slogan and I needed a UI specialist to do the website.
After being sent pillar to post, I eventually got all of this done. I suppose I could have gone to some agency to have all this done in one go, but they probably would have charged an arm and a leg.
This is the brief I gave the designer:
- I don’t particularly like it when the logo is a separate graphic next to the actual name of the business. I prefer it when the visual elements are incorporated into the name itself (if that makes sense). That’s just my preference and I am open to opposing view. Happy to see your ideas if you feel different.
- The domain name is very very very important. It needs to appear in most of the samples put forward.
- Look and feel: it needs to appeal to the full spectrum of entrepreneurs. Everything from exciting innovative tech start ups to established boring business.. It can however lean more towards your early stage entrepreneurs as they are the ones that are most lost and will value all of this information the most.
- One of the words I was close to incorporating into the tag line was “Hub” as it implies that this the place where everything happens.. the go to spot.. it’s lively… there’s interaction.. etc. But its already in the domain name. Perhaps this will be useful in the logo creation?
The designer put through some ideas in a very professional manner. There were a few options but she also illustrated how it would look on a business card and a letterhead etc.
I so badly wanted to have my light bulb in my logo as it symbolizes entrepreneurship. But the designer advised that I shouldn’t make my logo work too hard. The logo doesn’t need to incorporate your product/service. That’s the job of the slogan and marketing. The logo should speak to my vision/mission/purpose. i.e. Entri giving access to entrepreneurs, opening up doors to possibility etc . I was still skeptical thinking that if people see the key hole in isolation, they may think Entri is locksmith or security company or something!
None of my family or friends were feeling the lightbulb either. One of my friends said “you don’t see Google or Apple squeezing in a computer in their logo!” I realized that I need to choose the logo that people will respond to- so I settled on my current logo.
Plus, my trademark was eventually registered so I could add that super duper ® sign at the end of the logo. Doesn’t that make Entri look so much more legit? Oh yes!
Before and After:
P.S you’ll see that my logo for Leaping Sideways is only typography as well.
My first slogan was “the key to entrepreneurship” but I realised that was very vague. As advised, I got in touch with a copywriter for assistance. We met and I explained my business and my vision. She put together a cool presentation that outlined her thought process.
At first, the slogans she suggested, were long full sentences like “Guiding you through the South African entrepreneurial landscape”. In my mind, slogans need to be short and punchy. So she had to go back to the drawing board and come up with something better.
My favourite part in her second submission was this word cloud that she generated from my then About page on the website. What is a word cloud you ask? Don’t worry, I didn’t know either. A word cloud is an image composed of words used in a particular text or subject, in which the size of each word indicates its frequency or importance. The point of this exercise was to pick up words that are most commonly used when communicating the purpose of Entri.
Eventually, we settled on one of my initial suggestions which was “Enabling Entrepreneurs”. This is how I explained it to the graphic designer working on my logo.
- This tagline indicates to entrepreneurs that this website will offer some sort of assistance to the business (is it funding? networking? clients?) and entices them to log on and find out more. The carrot basically.
- I didn’t like words such as “help” and “support” as it sounded more like a charity case. Enabling, for me, sounds empowering in a sense that entrepreneurs will be given the tools to make their business great themselves.
- At the moment, the way I am enabling entrepreneurs is through information of the all initiatives to support entrepreneurs (listings); ability to engage/network with other participants in the entrepreneurial space; and tutorials. I also have a bunch of ideas that I want to incorporate in the website in future but it always has the objective of helping entrepreneurs one way or the other. Hence, “enable” is not limiting and gives me scope to expand.
- It also has an alliteration effect: Enrti- enabling entrepreneurs.
Anonymity of the founder?
There’s no point in having an awesome product but no-one knows about- hence why I needed marketing stagey. I remember asking a friend of a friend, who worked for a digital marketing company, to help me with Entri’s marketing. The company he worked for charged something like R60k per month retainer fee. I obviously could not afford anything close to that so he agreed to do some freelance work for me on the side. He later dropped me- I common trend I found in the freelancer space *sigh* (more on that here). Anywhoo…. in our first and only discussion where I explained my concept he kept on going on a different direction saying that the entrepreneurs must upload their financial statements to my portal and link their bank accounts to my website and I must sell that data to other companies. I had to keep reminding him that “No, that’s not what I’m doing. I only need your help with my marketing strategy not my business model.” I mentioned some ideas I had for marketing which included me doing interviews on radio, TV, print and online. He was of the view that I should remain anonymous because he has a fashion type blog on the side and no one knows that it is him behind the brand. I disagreed with that strategy on a number of accounts.
- No one will be able sell this product better than I can- I’m the founder and the one with the passion and vision.
- I have the credentials as a CA(SA) in the investment industry- I understand businesses- it’s what I do.
- People buy into the story not the product,
- I think people will be more selective on who they take advice from when it comes to running their business compared to fashion tips. This type of business is different to a fashion blog where pretty much anyone with a phone can start one. In the business world, you need some sort of credibility for people to trust you.
I don’t know, maybe this strategy will backfire and I can foresee some risks in the later stages of my business’s life. If I am the “face of the brand” but later decide that I no longer want to be actively involved then continuity and succession planning will become a challenge. Nevertheless, my gut is saying this is the right way for now so I’m going to stick it.
So maybe it worked out for the better that we didn’t end up working together.