Founded in 2017 by Tom Love and Chris Gunn, LoveGunn is a branding & design agency that works with its clients on unlocking their brand’s potential. In this interview, Tom Love shares his thoughts on the importance of a cohesive brand voice, what a successful brand name can do for business, and offers advice and guidelines on how to approach building a brand on a strong domain name.
Tom, could you tell us about yourself and what inspired the creation of LoveGunn in 2017?
I’ve been a designer for about 15 years now and in that time I’ve worked in a variety of London agencies. I decided to start LoveGunn in 2017 after a few years of working as a freelancer. I was getting frustrated at not being able to talk directly to clients and key stakeholders about my strategies, ideas, and design concepts.
People define branding in different ways, what’s your definition of a brand?
I think the branding world suffers from a lot of buzzwords, jargon, and smoke and mirrors. Essentially when you boil it down the definition of a brand is who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. This is where we start every project with our clients, by stripping back the layers and getting to their essence.
For a company that wants to build a strong brand, what would you say are the most important steps?
You have to start right at the beginning, your essence, from there you can really define who it is you are, what your mission is, and your unique value proposition. Most people see the visual outcome of a brand project, but they’re like icebergs, there’s a lot of work and strategy which underpins the work that often goes unseen. Without having the right foundations in place from the start you risk adopting a brand that is simply based on a visual trend.
What is the story behind coming up with your brand name LoveGunn? Who came up with the name?
We get a lot of positive remarks and comments about our name and I’d love to say it’s down to some really clever and creative thinking. In truth, Chris and I were down the pub talking about starting an agency together and we put 2 and 2 together — my last name is Love and my business partner is Gunn, so it made absolute sense to combine them to create a remarkable name for the agency.
What should a business consider before beginning the naming process? What are the mistakes that you see most often?
Part of our brand work is often around naming and it’s a very complicated task. The mistakes we see are clients trying too hard to be clever with their name or wanting a copycat name based on a well-known brand like Spotify. You have to find something that’s unique, memorable, searchable, and also easy to pronounce and spell.
Do you advise your clients on domain names? What importance do you give to the domain name they choose for their brand?
Yes, domain names play a big part in our naming process. Your domain name is almost as important as your brand’s name. It has to be ownable, easy to spell, and also look ok in the browser address bar. We’ve had to reject what we thought were fantastic names in the past because we either couldn’t get the domain or they look confusing when they’re written down without spaces or uppercase letters to divide words.
Every day we see companies simplifying or dropping unnecessary words from their domain names (Tesla had TeslaMotors.com before getting Tesla.com, Slack had SlackHQ.com before Slack.com, Carrot had OnCarrot.com before getting Carrot.com.) What do you think are some of the benefits of having the exact brand match domain names?
Exact brand matches are like gold dust now, especially .com’s. If we can’t get the exact brand match we often look for alternative domains like .co .agency .care which are all just as good, especially for younger brands who are just starting out and don’t have the money to purchase the .com. We try to avoid extra words like in your examples but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Our suggestion would always look at the newer alternative domains rather than add descriptors.
What do you think the biggest challenges are for today’s entrepreneurs when it comes to brand consistency?
I think there are two big challenges for entrepreneurs when it comes to keeping your brand consistent. One is that your brand needs to live across so many different platforms and touchpoints now that keeping your tone, messaging and visuals consistent is a constant battle.
The other challenge is that you are exposed to other brands’ marketing, new visual trends, and creative executions that it’s easy to be tempted to do ‘me too’ campaigns. It’s so important to stay true to your own voice and identity and that’s why we work with our clients to build brand guidelines and templates to help ensure that they can retain their consistency and their own persona.
Do you think that nowadays companies should brand with a global mindset even if they are local? And if so, what does that entail?
I think it really depends on the business and the overall goal. If you’re a local family run butchers with no ambition to become a global food brand, then I would advise them to think local and focus on being the very best butcher in your area. If you’re say a UK start-up with a tech or product idea that you want to initially launch in the UK market but your long-term goal is to become a global brand then you need to think global from the start. Ensure your brand name translates well across other languages and that your values can be shared with audiences and communities around the world.
What’s on the horizon for LoveGunn? What gets you excited about the future?
Off the back of our work with Chelsea Football Club, we’re continuing to have really interesting conversations in the sports and fan engagement space. We want to focus on helping brands connect with communities and encourage participation as well as a brand affiliation. The idea of utilizing digital technologies, storytelling, and gamification to enhance brands and customer experiences is something that really excites me.
We hope this will be of use to you in the process of getting your perfect domain name. If you have any questions, need any help, or just want to chat with someone about the process, book a free consultation at MarkUpgrade, we are always happy to hear from you.