THE Creativity Chronicles
This week I’m working on naming a brand. Naming is such a difficult and underestimated job – just coming up with this one (or few) word(s) is one of the most time-consuming, immersive projects I work on. Unlike writing a page of copy, names need time and space to percolate. I can be working on it for weeks – at my desk, at the beach, on the dog walk, in the shower, falling asleep – inspiration ticks over continuously.
Sometimes names literally come to me as if they are destiny, other times they involve painstaking hours of research and consideration. Even when they come easily I still need to enter the research rabbit hole to pore over the etymology, the history and the backstory, cross-referencing translation and potential connotations. I’ve been asked a few times whether I would create names and sell them “ready made” but I just couldn’t. A name is so personal, so evocative and so unique. When I’m naming a client I’m not looking for a pretty name that will look nice on their logo – I’m considering their essence and their story, their message and the meaning behind it all. A great name has depth and distinction – it is absolutely yours and you will know it as soon as you see it.
Years ago I read that when naming children, the name chooses you. I can 100% agree with this. Both of my daughters I had potential names for but both names were replaced by other names that absolutely chose me. One pretty much fell out of the sky and banged on my door until it could no longer be ignored. The same is true with brand names. Although I don’t get to choose the name, I always provide a shortlist of the ones that I like and support, those that have an authentic sense of story. Because of this, I’m never unhappy with any on the list that I put together but sometimes I do get attached to a name that doesn’t get chosen.
Mostly though, I’m on the same page as my clients and I love to see their reaction to the names I come up with. Naming is the most difficult, all-consuming intense project but I literally love it because when you find the name you instantly and instinctively know. For me, I’ve always felt like I’m channeling names from the universe – that I’m the bridge between the brand essence and the universe – the name is never created because of me, I’m just the messenger. I have worked on so many incredible names so it’s very hard to shortlist a handful but here are five of my favourite brand names I’ve had the privilege to work on:
Fierce, emotive and powerful, when I met Carla from The Unbridled she was a force. Her name needed to convey that strength of emotion, a sense of wild romance and raw passion. She didn’t suit anything soft and romantic because her edge is that authentic emotion so I was actively looking for the anti-bride if that makes sense, turning the concept of a wedding photographer on its head. This name came during a Seaside Session coaching day together and I just felt the power of the name as soon as I wrote it down, it’s her name and it always has been.
Phoenix & Providence
Another one from a Seaside Session coaching day, Phoenix & Providence is one of my favourites because of the back story. Learning about Ella’s brand and understanding the depth of it was the key to finding this name. Phoenix & Providence offer ocean inspired, seaweed infused skincare. We named the brand when it was just a kernel of an idea so I had so much to play with. Kelp burning is an important part of the history of The Isles of Scilly and I wanted to incorporate this along with a marine thread. I discovered that the year that kelp burning started on the island and the year that it ended two different ships had been shipwrecked, one called Phoenix and one called Providence. The fact that Phoenix means to rise from the ashes and Providence is the protective care of nature, it was a done deal. And it’s such a perfect name, rich with meaning.
Lauren is another ocean inspired brand, offering yoga and swimming retreats for women. Getting to know her brand it was all about the energy of the ocean and the power of women coming together. Salt Sisterhood is such a simple name as it combines these two things but the thought behind the name is very textured and multi-layered. I spent time looking at the importance of salt – in stories and mythology, in history and science. The fact that salt is so integral within us, something we all have. The Salt Sisterhood is about unlocking our inner ocean wisdom and goes perfectly with the tagline I crafted, “for she who is stirred by the sea”. It’s so simple yet so powerful and absolutely perfect for Lauren.
It is hard to think of Nina as anybody less than Erzulie, her old brand feels a lifetime ago. Quite often I come across businesses who have a lack of parity between their brand and their experience and Nina was a perfect example of this. A luxury offering, her brand was still quite cute and cottage industry. The quality of her cake and her brand said two very different things and I realised she needed to completely alter everything to reposition herself correctly. She wanted a name that said luxury and elegance but also was unusual and inspired by different cultures. No mean feat. Erzulie is a Goddess of love and marriage and had the perfect look and feel that Nina wanted. It was a wild card and I put some safer options in my shortlist for her. I was surprised and excited that she went for Erzulie – it really is the epitome of luxury.
Last but certainly not least… Kahani is a robe brand, created from vintage saris from India and made into something unique and beautiful. I fell in love with this brand while working on it and listening to Jo from Kahani I made lots of notes, not only on the things she was saying but between the lines – the passion, the sense of history and story, the preservation of fabric, the passion, the texture. I knew this had to be at the heart of the name. I’m not sure if I actually told Jo this at the time but Kahani came to me while I was cleaning my teeth, literally out of nowhere. KAHANI. I just felt it. I didn’t even know what it meant, it just felt right. When I looked it up I found that it was Urdu for story. It was perfect. Despite this, I still did loads of research on the name and created a full shortlist which took days (even though I knew instantly this was the name). Jo was drawn to it immediately but actually asked me to do a second round of names. I did this while holding my breath thinking “but the name is Kahani”. I got so attached to this name and if she hadn’t had chosen it I think I would have phoned her and lost the plot. I knew it was a done deal in my heart. Thankfully she also felt the pull of the name and it’s absolutely perfect for her brand – a personal favourite of mine and I’m proud to own the first ever Kahani robe.