Choosing the best brand name for your business is absolutely critical. We have discussed with Dr. Daniel Lonsdale Wh.Sch from LIG Nanowise their brand, their domain name and how those have been important to achieving their global vision.
What is your background and how did you come to work for LIG Nanowise?
My career prior to LIG is quite varied. I have a wide range of technical and commercial experience in industries from aerospace to point-of-sale, electrochemistry to data science. In 2019 I took the technical lead at LIG Nanowise and in 2020 my role expanded to include heading up the commercial side of the business. My career roles have typically merged varying degrees of commercial and technical ownership which I believe has placed me in a fantastic position to understand both the business and technical needs of our customers and partners, who include notable institutions such as the National Graphene Institute here in Manchester and Samsung Electronics in Korea.
When did you start thinking about your brand name and how did you settle on LIG Nanowise?
LIG was founded off the back of a paper published by our founders in Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1211), which showed how a microscopic bead of glass (called microspheres) could be used to revolutionise optical microscopy. LIG stands for ‘Laser Innovations Group’ and reflects our founders’ expertise in the advanced laser space, an expertise that made their work with microsphere imaging possible. ‘Nanowise’ was born of our focus on nanoscale microscopy and materials, and the suffix -wise was added to clearly denote our expertise in these areas.
Launched in 2019, our microscopy brand is Nanoro, a combination of ‘Nano’ and the suffix ‘ro’. Because there are so many companies working in the ‘nano space’ it was incredibly difficult to find a unique name that contained ‘nano’ that had not already been taken. We spent more than a few long afternoons endlessly listing words that were phonetically pleasing, easy to spell over the phone, and were not infringing anyone’s trademark. It was the result of a couple of foreign language dictionaries and a lot of Googling!
How has owning Lig-nanowise.com affected your business and how have you internationalised from it?
Owning a top-level domain was essential to us, especially as the company has always had an international focus. We needed to prove our validity and demonstrate to potential investors and early customers that we meant business. Getting our .com domain made this an easier task.
“Owning a top-level domain was essential to us, especially as the company has always had an international focus. We needed to prove our validity and demonstrate to potential investors and early customers that we meant business. Getting our .com domain made this an easier task.”
As we have grown, we have kept .com as our domain and built numerous targeted foreign language landing pages on our website. We have benefited massively from having the ubiquitous .com top-level domain as it is well regarded internationally and has not limited our scope and international appeal. We now operate a large network of international distributors who represent us over-seas, and they all use our .com website as a reference point for potential customers.
The website is also essential as a launchpad for our social media announcements; one of the main ways we are getting our word out there. It is this resource that allowed us to contact, court, and enthuse Samsung Electronics out in Korea, even though we did not have a Korean language landing page.
How did you get the domain name Lig-nanowise.com for your brand? Why did you select that one exactly?
We were able to get the domain lig-nanowise.com using Godaddy. We choose the domain name because it was simple and short: just the company name and the .com domain felt like the right choice because of our international scope.
“We choose the domain name because it was simple and short: just the company name and the .com domain felt like the right choice because of our international scope.”
Who is your target customer and how is your brand name helping in reaching them?
Our microscopy technology is truly world-leading, but we have had to test where it can be best applied. Microscopy is incredibly complicated, particularly when you work at the resolutions that we do; sample preparation, immersion mediums, reflectivity, etc. all come into play. We have done a lot of work with a number of industrial partners, including the Graphene Institute in Manchester and Samsung Electronics Korea to explore where our technology can be best applied. As a result of these explorations, our key customers are the semiconductor and mineralogy industries. These two industries are diverse and very different, however in both cases, a need for nanoscale imaging was there, and our brand name, with its focus on the nano, has helped us quickly communicate our key message: we have the expertise to help you see more of the nanoscale world.
How do you keep your brand consistent across different channels online and offline?
As we are a small team, we have had to work smarter (as well as harder!) From the start, it was obvious that we needed to be able to keep a consistent brand across multiple channels, whilst scaling our website and social media presences. We use several well-known tools to make it easy to design and roll out changes to our website and materials at scale, including across our international distribution network. Since the pandemic started, we have been taking full advantage of the visual development tool Webflow and the collaborative design tool Figma, to ensure that we maintain a clear brand across all our channels whilst working remotely and in concert with a large team of international distributors.
Has the pandemic affected your company in any way? What has changed since?
It can be difficult to maintain strict health and safety policies for long periods with many staff working on diverse projects, so we allow staff to work from home where they can. From a commercial perspective, we are tending to use social media more and more to get the word out and communicate with prospects and colleagues. Zoom is also invaluable! However, the emphasis has also changed over the last year as we were focussing on R&D and productionising our latest product. That part of the cycle naturally concluded around the start of the pandemic, so the change in focus has been a naturally evolving one. Of course, other work continues as it always has, albeit at a slower pace.
Another area we have had to consider is choosing when to launch new products. For a long time, the pandemic has been at the forefront of people’s minds. Couple that with Brexit and other recent global stories, and our news can get easily drowned out. The take-home message for us would be that placing the LIG brand and the products front-and-center to our website at the right time, supporting it with images, videos, documents, and a sales network all the while courting our community on social media is now a natural part of our work. Perhaps more so than it would have been without the pandemic.
What do you do to make sure your marketing is effective?
We have spent a lot of time working with users to understand the practical and tangible benefits that our products offer to manufacturers and researchers. The challenge has been converting our product specification (such as the maximum resolution our microscopes can achieve) and translating that into clear value statements for each of our specific industries. The international market is also extremely important to us and we have put a lot of focus this year on making our website and materials accessible in other languages and geographies. We have also focused on creating more video materials this year. It’s a cliché, but videos do incredibly well on social media platforms and are often the fastest way to get our story in front of prospects all over the world.
What would your advice be to entrepreneurs who are just starting out, in general and when it comes to branding and naming?
Without a doubt, avoid walling yourself in to a product sector by company name, and try to make it catchy and easy to remember. I know it is simplistic, but if you are going to create dog food, do not call yourself “Dog Food Co,” as what happens when you want to branch out to cat food? We have spent quite a lot of time creating lists of names that we like, then reviewing them in google and trademark searches; a nice result is where a name is concise/catchy/memorable and has little in the way of search engine results or competition. Getting the name in front of a wider audience is also helpful in gauging how it will land. This is quite important where there is international implications and opportunity for miscommunication or misunderstanding. Another test we have used is to see if a name is easy to hear and spell over the phone. There is no point having a long, complicated name that is impossible for a potential customer to spell or find again. Of course, you can go further and employ a market research company to find what works for your consumer – something you might consider if you are a B2C operation – but this was not our path.
“Another test we have used is to see if a name is easy to hear and spell over the phone. There is no point having a long, complicated name that is impossible for a potential customer to spell or find again.”
Where do you see your business in the future and how does your brand name fit into that vision?
A very good question! We have a whole host of potential products we can bring to the market that supports LIG’s SMAL and SMAL AIR lenses. These range from more advanced microscopy products to graphene enabled filters and devices. As we expand, we will likely roll out more brand names to sit under the LIG umbrella that are specific to our varied product lines. We want LIG to be known as an R&D and product company that utilises expertise with nanomaterials to create products that solve problems across a wide range of industries.
We hope the above information will help you in making informed decisions about your brand. If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.