There’s a certain air of mystery surrounding what people in an ad agency actually do. While TV and movies might try to convince you that agency people spend the day drinking hard liquor and staring out the window while smoldering with unbridled sex appeal, that’s simply not true. We don’t all have windows.

Much of the mystery probably stems from the fact that people outside of the industry never get to see the hard, grueling work that gets done every day by the drunks and miscreants that populate ad agencies like this one. They just see the end result, which is gonna be less impressive if you ignore all that goes into it. That’s why this blog is here: To give you your own personal window into the magical world of advertising.

So at least someone gets a window. NO, I’M NOT BITTER.

This foggy mystique (which is actually a really good stripper name) is particularly thick around brand creation and development. People see a brand, and they just assume it was pulled out of a hat or painted on the back of the fastest turtle in the race. If the latter sounds suspiciously specific, let me just state outright that we only have one turtle here and he’s way too slow to race anything but the specter of death. So there.

The truth is that brand creation requires a heaping ton of research. Yep. Good, old fashioned, digging through page after page of Google searches, often all the way down to the last “O.” What? Is that too boring for you? You prefer something with unicorns or lasers? Well. Let me set you straight. That’s no way to build a brand.

Branding really has to start with research because there are so many damn brands out there. And a lot of them are in your industry. True story.

By researching competitive brands, we come to recognize what the state of the industry is, and where your brand can begin to find its own, personal, memorable niche within it. But there’s even more to it than that. You may have heard of this thing called the Internet, which is kind of a mythical place in another dimension where brands of all kinds live in peace and harmony together. Or at least have a presence there.

So for example, if your company made luxury toys for aquarium fish, and you decide that your brand should be “Fancy Fish,” you really don’t want to develop that brand without consulting a browser first. Here, let me Google that for you: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=fancy+fish

Of course, if that still didn’t convince you, just imagine how disappointed (or dazzled) you’d be when you discovered http://www.fancyfish.com was taken. Oh, the humanity.

Today, it’s absolutely essential that any brand research involve domain name research as well. Preferably before you settle on a name and pay someone to create a logo for it. Because then you’ll end up with a domain like fancyfishluxuryaquariumtoys.com and everyone will hate you.

Obviously, the more crowded your industry is, the more difficult it is to carve out your own brand niche. This is where creativity comes in.

Creativity is the “secret sauce” of the advertising industry. It’s the big bang that turns a random singularity into an entire universe, making space less boring in the process. Creativity is what allows us to think up things that have never been thought up before. Unless they have. Ergo, research, research, research.

Chances are you’ll choose your agency for its creativity. But you should also consider their process. The more thorough your agency is, the less likely you are to end up paying for a brand that looks or sounds like a competitor and can’t be attached to a reasonable URL.

As part of our process here at DAMN GOOD, we engage in competitive research, URL research, and we also do cursory trademark research. Why? Because even if you don’t plan on trademarking your brand or brand messaging (i.e. tagline), that doesn’t mean someone who has can’t sue you for trademark infringement.

The truth is that not all trademarks show up in domain searches, and vice-versa. You gotta be thorough in order to be sure. Remember that your brand name is the foundation of your business. The stronger it is at the start, the stronger the overall structure will become. You know, like with Legos®.

One last thing you might want to consider from your agency is visualization. We build brand names first, starting with just black text on a white screen, and then move on to logo creation. However, if you are able to visualize what a brand could look like in terms of logo, imagery, and style, then you can fashion a much more cohesive foundation to your brand. Sorry, but there’s no Lego® analogy for that.

Once we’ve meticulously uncovered a few excellent and viable brand names, we walk our clients through the difficult selection process. For some, it’s agonizing. They ask family, friends, and the guy at the drive through window (true story) what they think, going back and forth between favorites before ultimately making up their mind and settling upon one. Others just throw a dart at a dartboard. Some even consider the recommendation of the branding experts who came up with the brand to begin with.

Personally, I prefer turtle races.*


*NOTE: No turtles were harmed in the writing of this blog article. For more information, and amazing, killer brand development, check out DAMNGOOD.agency.

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