I have a variety of skills. But, coming up with product names and brand names hasn’t been one of them.
Plus, things change over time. I’ve been in business online since 1998 and started this very site in 2008. Things have evolved quite a bit. I get new ideas and… sort of slap it on top of the pile. 😉
So, let me talk a bit about the names and brand names in my own business.
A few issues have bothered me a bit. They are:
- The brand of “Blog Marketing Academy” really doesn’t serve the agency/client work that happens as part of “Tech Services” and Concierge. That word “academy” is conducive to courses which is why it is called that.
- In fact, “Tech Services” is about one of the most bland names ever.
- The service work is actually a bit buried here at Blog Marketing Academy. It would be hard to promote the services under a name such as “Blog Marketing Academy“. Not only is a fairly large offer buried under a lot of other stuff, but again… that “academy” word buries it further.
- The EDGE is a nice, short name for my newsletter. However, the name itself has no standalone power to communicate what it is about nor any inherent promise. Plus, since it is such a popular word, I don’t have a chance in hell of being able to get a domain for it and separate it out (more on that in a bit).
For a brief moment a couple weeks ago, I even flirted with the idea of simply changing the name of this entire site away from “Blog Marketing Academy“. Then, my better sense quickly took over as I realized killing off a brand name I’ve used for many years and said multiple times in hundreds of videos… would be moronic. 😳
Ironically enough, watching Elon suddenly re-brand Twitter into “X” really got me thinking about this issue yet again. Twitter is an iconic brand name that has permeated the culture for years and now… X. Interesting, to say the least.
I’m not going to pull an Elon move here. But, I have evolved a bit in my thinking about product names, brand names, and what we should think about when we come up with these things.
It does need to be about more than whether the domain name is available (although that’s important, too.).
In This Post…
Some Thoughts On Choosing Brand And Product Names
First off, I think it is useful to understand the structure of brands and subsidiaries.
A brand is a company, product, service or concept that has a distinct identity.
As I said in my branding guide, a brand is essentially an identity which forms a mental image picture. It is an identity to which we are “trained” to assign certain pictures, personality, qualities, etc. And that brand is usually named and given a logo to serve as a symbol for it.
A subsidiary is like… a sub-brand. Think of it like a brand (with everything mentioned above) that sits under the umbrella of another large brand.
As an example, think of Meta as a brand that has subsidiary brands of Facebook, Instagram, Oculus, WhatsApp, Threads, etc.
Or how Mars, Inc. is the parent company behind several major candy brands of M&Ms, Skittles, Twix, Snickers, etc.
Now, in the case of small businesses and solopreneurs, we’re not necessarily going to go to all the work to file legal trademarks for every subsidiary brand or any of that. However, the same thought process can apply.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there value to be had out of your offer(s) being given their own brandable identity?
- Do all of your offer(s) make sense under the same umbrella or might they be better served as a separate standalone brand or a subsidiary brand name?
- Do your product names or site names make a good brand name? Or are they generic?
- Do your product or site names contain an inherent promise of what it’s all about?
I think these are useful questions to think about.
Some Guidelines to Consider…
Just a few things to keep in mind as you take a “big picture” look at your own branding…
First, brand-able names don’t have to be keyword stuffed for SEO. In fact, SEO is one of the lowest-level concerns. Some of the most iconic brands in our culture are made-up works that never existed before. So, trying to stuff plain-English keywords into your domain name or product name isn’t a necessity at all. In fact, it may lead to some really boring names.
Second, a good brand name is usually somewhat short. It is self-contained and not too long. Frankly, “Blog Marketing Academy” is a little bit too long and if I were to do it again I’d pick something shorter. But, it works.
Third, consider assigning brand names to products, projects and sites that could stand to benefit from having their own identity.
Fourth, try to have the brand name contain some inherent promise of what it does. Many iconic brands don’t have that in the name and instead rely on their marketing to define it. So, this is certainly not some kind of “rule”, but just something to bear in mind.
Changes I’m Making In My Business (And Why)
Now, I want to be clear about something. I do not come at you with this whole branding talk as some kind of “guru” on the matter. Frankly, I haven’t been very good at this at all.
When I decided to spin up what is now WP Concierge, I first called it “Webmaster Support”. I mean… jeez. 😂 “Webmaster” isn’t even a very modern word anymore so I was even showing my age by trying to use it. 🤪
Anyway, here we go…
DavidRisley.com Comes Back
Before Blog Marketing Academy, it was DavidRisley.com. When I changed the name to a better brand, DavidRisley.com just sat in the background with a boring placeholder site.
Now, I’m not planning to spin up a new blog at DavidRisley.com. However, I’ve decided to re-design the site in order to serve as the parent brand for the rest of them.
Technically, my corporate name is PC Media, Inc. But, that’s not a name that does me a lot of favors. It is also not worth the effort to literally change the name of my company. So, I’m just going to use a DBA of “David Risley Enterprises” and its web address will be DavidRisley.com.
The idea is just to be a general brand that will fit anything I end up doing. I don’t want to only be “the blog guy”.
This site will remain a simple site, but will simply give the broad overview of my various companies and projects. More on that in a bit.
Blog Marketing Academy Returns To Its Roots
I’ve been almost treating Blog Marketing Academy as the parent brand and stuffing everything underneath it. Frankly, I think it has watered things down.
So, Blog Marketing Academy will remain primarily a training site. It will be the home for guides (i.e. blog posts), videos and courses. Offers will be courses and the ONEPass membership to the library.
This site is an “Academy” and it will remain true to that word. For people looking to learn and DIY.
This means that I’m going to be peeling off and positioning some things differently. Closely related, but standalone.
BTW, a quick mention about “ONEPass” just to make a point about product names…
The membership here at the Academy has gone through a lot of name changes. It started out as “Inner Circle“. Then I think it went to “VIP“. Then, it existed as “THE LAB” for awhile. Then, the LAB sort of folded back into the Blog Marketing Academy and sort of ceased to have it’s own product name. It was a problem that I created for myself and needed fixin’. So…
What is the promise of the offer? The idea is to sign up for ONE thing and then instantly unlock everything in the course library. As I noodled it around in my head, I just landed on ONEPass. One simple, short word that contained an inherent promise of what the thing is.
I present that only as an example. 😇 Moving on…
THE EDGE Becomes The Morning WP
This is another one of those things that has evolved. It started out as a daily email I called The Daily. Then, when I decided to reduce the frequency, I needed a new name. After noodling it, I called it THE EDGE.
Now, a couple of things about this…
- Over time, THE EDGE has become my primary focus when it comes to regular content. In essence, it has become the blog. Regular posts on this site tend to be longer and more like guides, not your usual blog post. But, with THE EDGE, I’m pretty regular each and every week. But, it is a little buried here because of everything else.
- The title “THE EDGE” has no standalone branding power and no inherent promise in the name of what it actually is. The newsletter is really geared toward solopreneurs who use WordPress. It is a blend between entrprenuerial insights as well as WordPress tech and things happening with the platform. NONE of that is captured in the word “edge”.
Not only that, I recently moved THE EDGE over to BeeHiiv. The goal is to give the newsletter more focus and take growth more seriously. I want it to be able to exist as it’s own subsidiary brand.
So, I went noodlin’ again and, for better or for worse, I landed on The Morning WP.
Of course, “WP” stands for WordPress. In my target market, everybody knows that and if they don’t know that they probably aren’t part of the market. From that perspective, this new name gives some idea what it is about but to people likely to care.
The BeeHiiv powered site for THE EDGE will get it’s own domain and the newsletter will become it’s own, separate subsidiary brand. EDGE posts will no longer be archived here at BMA and will be deleted. Moving forward, posts will be syndicated here to BMA, but the home will be TheMorningWP.com.
WP Concierge Becomes It’s Own Brand And Site
When I re-branded “Webmaster Support” to “WP Concierge” and designed a new logo for it, I could tell that it had some standalone brand potential. Not only that, but over time, I realized that I have basically spun up an entirely new business here except that it was folded into a brand (“Blog Marketing Academy“) that didn’t really fit it.
Doing this kind of client-based work is, really, an entirely different business but I wasn’t treating it as such. Not only that, but it definitely does take up a lot of time.
Thinking ahead, it is extremely likely that this business will evolve past me as I bring on other people to serve clients.
In every way, WP Concierge is a separate business. With different expectations, different branding, different internal systems and everything. And it is better that I treat it as such.
To that end, I am in the process of spinning off WP Concierge into it’s own subsidiary brand with it’s own website.
For now, it is more or less a placeholder site with the calls to action pointing back here to BMA. But, over time, the new site will get all the “plumbing” for clients and the mechanics of what make WP Concierge work will remain on that site and separated from the Blog Marketing Academy.
Technical Services (another boring name) is also likely to be folded into WP Concierge. WP Concierge will be it’s own brand and every offer will be service-related. The Blog Marketing Academy will continue to be closely associated with it, of course. It will be the primary traffic driver, I’m sure. But, the new site will be a separate company under “David Risley Enterprises“.
Happily RV… Gets Some Attention Again…
Then there’s my little side hustle. My RV blog I spun up just for giggles, grew to a certain point and then let it stagnate.
Well, in the last few weeks, I’ve decided to get things going with the RV site again. In fact, I have converted it to the newsletter model on BeeHiiv and am now going to treat Happily RV as another of my companies.
Here’s the thing…
As I said before, I don’t want to be pigeon-holed only as “the blog guy”. I also know that everything has a cycle of action to it. Things are created, they persist… then they die. Everything. The very nature of “blogging” is constantly evolving, too. One day, we might not even be using that word anymore. So, all this to say… my life and entrepreneurial career is bigger than Blog Marketing Academy. And someday, this site might not even exist anymore. The site which defined my life for over a decade was my technology/computer blog and the site literally doesn’t exist now. So, things change.
I want to look past just this blogging/Wordpress space. As they say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. And this Happily RV site is one iron in that particular fire.
We’ll see what happens. It is a fun market, I’ll tell ya. 😍 I also love RVs and happen to live in a hot area for them (literally and figuratively).
Right now, the plan is to try to make Happily RV into it’s own media presence in the RVers market and monetize it through newsletter sponsorships and/or a premium version. I’m still a ways from that, but that’s where I see it going. I’m sure as hell not going to create online courses for RVers. 🤣
Entrepreneurial Creation Vs. Just Coasting
The changes I’m making are about a bit more than just brand names. It also goes to the nature of something I’m realizing yet again. More like… I’m reminded of it again because this is something I’ve written about before.
Being an entrepreneur is about more than just working for yourself. And I think I got way too lazy about it.
I’ve always self-identified as an “entrepreneur”. But… was I really?
When I listen to other entrepreneurs (not all, but many) I hear them talk about their multiple businesses. I hear them talk about spinning up new businesses and taking an “exit” by selling it off and moving onto the next game.
Where these entrepreneurs shine is that they are CREATORS. They think up ideas and they build businesses around them. The business isn’t THEM. It is separate and they look at each business like another of their children. Yet, unlike a child, eventually that point comes where they look for an exit and sell it off and move onto something else.
In contrast, when you become a consultant or a coach, in many ways you’re just creating an alternative JOB. And it can be a very demanding one, too.
And the world of that JOB means you’re not creating anymore. You’re just… working.
In many ways, I’ve come to realize that I wasn’t creating anymore. I was just… working.
In fact, it has become even more pronounced as I began doing client work and becoming the sole provider of that service. Hey, I’m not complaining as I actually PREFER this kind of work to creating courses and such these days. 🤪 But, still… my inner entrepreneur knows full well that I’m trading time for money and I’ve created a new job for myself.
So, not only do these branding and name changes put a little order into things… but I think it also is a way of recognizing each of these projects as the separate companies that they are. Each with it’s own systems.
Then, as an entrepreneur, I can renew myself into looking at each company like a canvas again. Something to create, to nurture, to grow. Not just to work in, but to work on. And eventually… potentially… exit and move on.
With the creative juices flowing, I’ve also got some other ideas for new companies that don’t exist yet.
For one, I know full well that doing credit-based tech work is basically hourly labor and not scalable. So, I am definitely eyeing productized services. The idea is there and it is brewing. More on that later. 😎
I may also spin up some new properties completely unrelated to blogging. We’ll see.
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