Practice what you preach

We advise customers to base their decisions on facts. And we practice what we preach. When we had to come up with a name for our design studio, we followed a fact-based process. With an surprising outcome.

Starting a company involves a lot of actions. And one of them is coming up with a name for the company. If you’re starting a studio together, you look for something that resonates good with both, reflecting your personal ambitions, as well as your goals as a duo. And of course the name needs to be easy on the ear, simple to write down without instructions, and memorable.
It helps if the domain is still available or obtainable, and commerce registers have to be checked, but first you need to find a candidate name.

A dump from one of the files we used to list every name that crossed our mind.

Diversion in every direction

We had a lot of ideas. Most of them not that good. We started by jotting down every name we thought of during evenings hours and every now and then compared notes. We found out that most names or words triggered completely different reactions and associations for us.

We concluded that probably other people might have entirely different associations as well. So how to avoid choosing a name that resonates with us, but not with anyone who was not part of the process of getting through two hundred options. And how to avoid picking a name that does not match other peoples perception of us?

A creative session for the shortlist

Time to call in the help of our spouses. Both are familiar with the techniques of brainstorming and creative facilitation, so we had a productive evening with the four of us. We abandoned our long lists and started a focussed search for names and words that would fit us and the ambition we had for our studio.

Prior to the session, Caroline had asked us separately to characterize ourself and each other, and together with the assessment form our partners that formed a sharp brief of the qualities we were looking for.

The requirements for the name were rather brief:

  1. short
  2. understandable without repeating
  3. easy to write down - even if you heard it for the first time

We went through quite some post-its that night. Apart from very productive and amusing, it was instructive as well. Since we had already processed a lot of potential names, most favorites surfaced somewhere during the evening. But in the new context new candidates emerged our of nowhere, and established favorites were put in a different perspective.

At the end of the session we had a shortlist of four:

  • Rex Creative
  • Crux Company
  • Straque
  • mbstudio
We created an online tool to show the names from the shortlist in context. Open

Apply collective intelligence

Now it was time to put our candidates to the test. We sent the shortlist to people in our personal network and asked them for a recommendation on our company name. And we asked them to support their advice with an explanation. And also if there were any names on the shortlist they would recommend against, we asked them to motivate that as well.
Names are more than word marks and look different in context. So we included an url to a small tool we created to randomly display the candidates in a sentence.

We received enthusiastic responses from everyone, so we immediately started a tallying. But it turned out the motivations we received where the real gold. Long live qualitative research!

Personal advice

There were significant differences between the recommendations from Bart’s network and from Meike’s. Understandable, since most people knew only one of us. But the thing that was very consistent from everyone, was their association with the different names.

‘Straque’ for example was considered a trendy, creative and chique name by all. But interestingly enough, for some that was a reason to recommend it as a company name, for others a reason to recommend another name.

‘mbstudio’ was described as easy on the ear, bright, sober and rather neutral. For some this made it a boring option, for others it oozed professionalism.

It was remarkable to see how - despite the differences in recommendation - the effect each name had on our panel was rather consistent.

The score

The numbers clearly show how some names resonate better with Meike’s network, and others better seem to fit Bart. But they also show a clear advice.

Name Meike Bart Total
Rex Creative 3 0 3
Crux Company 3 1 4
Straque 0 5 5
mbstudio 4 4 8

Walk the walk

We found a winner. It was clear that the runners up where very different for Meike and Bart. But that there was one consistent recommendation: mbstudio.

So that’s how we named our company.

Thanks to Govert and Caroline for the creative session and all the great input. And of course many thanks to all our friends and family who where kind enough to share their thoughts and advice us on our company name.


is a no-nonsense UX bureau.

As creative engineers, we love complex challenges. We design solutions that feel logical for users. We focus on quality. We choose to be a small agency, so we can give each client our full attention.
We bring over 20 years of experience to each project.

Bart + Meike: engineers with a focus on people.
Meike Mak design researcher and UX specialist—industrial design (with honors), TU Delft. Meike likes to submerge in the experience of the user and is a trainer in UX research and interview techniques. She loves mountains, squash and board games and is the mother of Willem.
Bart van Lieshout designer—architecture (with honors), TU Delft. Bart worked 10 years as an architect, designing complex buildings such as hospitals. He is fascinated by grids and typography and always in pursuit of elegant solutions. Bart sings as a tenor soloist in classical music. His daughter is called Domino.

Our specialty is fact-based design.

We base our designs on facts and insights. We research the needs of the people who are going to use the product or service. And we merge these user needs and ambitions with our clients’ ambition in a concept.

Concept a strategic foundation for the design. We sketch solutions for the core user interaction. From here we design the main functionality, outlining principles and structure.
A solid concept is half the battle. It forms the basis for prioritising and planning features, helps to convince stakeholders and guides the product roadmap. For agile teams the concept provides a clear high-level context, essential during large or complex projects.
We always start with sketches and add detail with our clients as we iterate. This helps idaes to stay agile and prevents rework in expensive production steps.

We help ambitious organisations to make online projects successful.

Our work is often of strategic importance to our clients, so we can only show a selection.
  • Design for online services of a pension administration

  • Ideation for purchasing tools for the government

    Ideation generating ideas and solutions. Together with the purchase professionals from the Dutch government, we created a clickable prototype to demonstrate how large purchasing projects can be facilitated.
    Take a closer look.
  • Design for a website and mail service for lawyers

    Ontwerp a clear plan of what will be created. Based on the insights from user research, we created sketches, visual designs and prototypes. The site went live in 2017 and together with the in-house development team we realise a constant flow of improvements and extensions.
    See what we designed. And why.
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    Design Sprints is a format developed by Google Ventures to create a user validated prototype in only 5 working days. The ideal compact (and low-cost) innovation kickstart for corporates with challenges and ambition.
    Design thinking and teamwork.
  • Concept for a new public service portal

  • Implementation of UX research for a sports brand

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    Information Architecture a design for the organisation of information. What information will be displayed where? What screens are necessary and what form of navigation aligns best with the user goals and needs? A well though out I.A. forms the basis for a successful interaction design, layout and visual design.
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    With the refreshing perspective of outside professionals we help teams to identify their problem and choose an adequate solution, empowering the team to get back to work with renewed energy and focus.
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  • Branding for a dental practice

    Branding the identity of your organization. Your business card—literally. What impression do you want to make? What are the core values of your business and how are they best displayed in your corporate identity?
    Read more about the typeface, layout and logo.
  • Design and code for a bridge club website

    We build websites on a regular basis. This keeps our knowledge up-to-date about what can be achieved in the browser—and how much effort is involved. We believe that good design takes into account how things are made. Online products are not clickable images, but responsive layout systems that work well on small and larger screens alike. So we need to understand the code that makes the design.
    Illustrations and website for a bridge club.
  • User research in public transportation

    User research finding out how users experience something. In this case how international train travellers experience the Dutch OV-chip card. What challenges and problems do the travellers face? Do foreign visitors understand how the system works? And how to get past the gates at their destination?
    Find out what we found.
  • First website for mbstudio

    First website always challenging. What to put on your website when you’re setting up a new business in the evening hours?
    This is what we opted for in 2016.
  • Naming our company

    If you like to base decisions on facts, and advice your clients to conduct research, then how do you choose the name for your company? Fact-based of course! Complete with sketches, prototypes and user research.
    Read all about it.
  • adidas
  • Arcadis
  • Boom juridische uitgevers
  • Centraal Bureau Rijvaardigheid
  • ING
  • knab
  • Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken
  • Nederlandse Spoorwegen
  • Schaal+
  • Squla
  • Delft University of Technology
  • User Intelligence
  • UX academy
  • uxinsight

Because we believe that digital products make life better.

Why you do something is just as important as what you do. We believe in human-centered design: products and services designed from the perspective of the human who uses them. We believe that good websites, apps and online services make our life easier and more pleasurable. And that the impact of digital products on our life—and that of our children—will only increase.
That is why we choose to use our talents and energy to make digital products as good as possible.

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