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.

our fact-based company name