Tuesday, September 22

Building a Blacksmithing Business: Branding

The DIY Blacksmithing Brand Logo

*This post is part of a series about Building a Blacksmithing Business from scratch. You can follow along here or at DIY Blacksmithing's Facebook page.

Why Brown County Forge instead of Earthman Ironworks?

First, a little history. When I started forging I thought long and hard about what I would call my company. I wanted the name to stand out and have something to do with me personally. 

What I ended up with was Earthman Ironworks. The Earthman part comes from a nickname I was given by a family friend. My first name more or less means "earth man" or "of the earth." Very personal.

Why not just keep that?

I decided to change the name because of these three things:

1. I'm from a county in Indiana that gets some name recognition due to its history as an artists' colony and its natural beauty. (It's real pretty there.)

2. The name Brown County Forge is more accessible to a wider range of people than Earthman Ironworks. If my target audience was mainly earthy, homespun folks I'd be all good with Earthman. I want my business to appeal to a variety of people.

3. In the event that I would ever sell the company and its assets, the name "Brown County Forge" has almost zero to do with me personally. Anyone could take it over.

How to Choose a Brand Name

1. Make it memorable, but not over-the-top. More "Crooked Creek Forge" than "Miller's Hut of Flame and Fire."

2. Avoid mythical creatures unless you just can't. There are plenty of Dragon Forges, Phoenix Forges, etc. If everybody else is calling their business that, how will yours stand out?

3. Last names can work well...if you're already well-known. If you've been forging things for a while now and people know you as "Dave - The Guy Who Makes Cool Stuff with Fire" you might be okay with just your name. However, if your last name is Johnson, Smith, Miller, Cooper, or Jones, don't just add "Forge" to the end of it. It might be too generic. 

4. We have an unwritten rule in the Forest Service about naming fires that could be helpful here:

Name it after a nearby geographic feature.

So, Crooked Creek Forge, Gamble Mountain Forge, Telluride Ironworks, Skunk Meadow Forge, Hell's Canyon Forge, etc.

5. Try to pick something you won't hate a few years down the road. It's hard to predict the future, but the past is pretty clear. Think about what sort of stuff you thought was cool in junior high.
Don't name it that.

Is the web address available?

How about the Facebook Page? Instagram?

We'll go deeper into social media in a later post, but you should research whether your brand name is already being used by someone. 

You can quickly type in your proposed brand at Namecheap to see if "yourbrand.com" is available. If it is, you can secure it for around $11. If it's not available, NameCheap will offer alternatives.


When it comes to logos, simple seems to win again. Think Google, Chase, and Netflix. These three rely on plain lettering to get their point across. The typefaces they use are easy to read and employ primary colors. 

This may seem too boring for our artistic sensibilities. That's okay. The main thing to take away is that your name should be readable if it's part of your logo. It doesn't have to be in Times New Roman, but you should probably avoid Old English. 

As far as shapes go, the anvil is a standard choice. If you can incorporate it into the geographic feature you're using for your forge name all the better. Maybe an outline of a mountain with the anvil in the middle.

For Brown County Forge I decided to keep it simple:

I wanted a design that was easy to read on a t-shirt, felt old-timey, and made it obvious what my business does and where it's located. *Note: That font or typeface was one I found for free doing a search for "old western fonts."

In Summary...

1. Consider who your customers are/will be. Does your business name fit their conceptions?
2. Avoid the cliches of the industry: Dragon, phoenix, minotaur, etc. You want to stand out.
3. Try looking at the geography of your area for inspiration. 
4. Is the domain available? Check Namecheap to be sure. 
5. Is your logo concept too complicated?

I hope that helps. If you have questions or comments about branding, please leave them below!

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Some more tips on naming your business including the benefit of short names:

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