NAMING YOUR BUSINESS

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Have you had a tough time naming your business?

I have. I've heard it compared to naming one's child and though I don't have kids I imagine naming one can be difficult. I guess it's that "forever" thing. 

Bear with me, this is a long story ... but naming my business has been ONE BIG STRUGGLE and I'll tell you why. 

Let's start with my name(s). My maiden name is Butts (don't worry, it's ok to laugh). I've dealt with jokes and snickers my whole life, It's cool. I actually love my maiden name and as strange as it may sound - it gave me strength and confidence at a young age.

Kids would ridicule me and say things like "HEY butthead" or "YOU'RE A butthole. But when I didn't react they would simply give up. So I learned early on that was good way to deal with the "attention." When I'd go through the checkout line and hand over my license the clerk would try to contain a laugh but then I'd smile and give them the "it's ok" look and all was good. In class when my teachers would take roll and it came to my name somehow their voice would reach an octave higher and it felt like BUUUUTTTTSSS would ring through the whole school!

But again, I was cool with it. I think it's because I grew up in a loving environment surrounded by a clan of Butts's whom I loved and cherished. They never felt weird about the name so neither did I.

THAT'S ME IN THE MIDDLE

So as confident as I was with my name I didn't want to use it for my business. I just couldn't imagine a logo other than two butt cheeks - ha! So instead I came up with sb ink. design. I know, so sophisticated right? I really thought the "ink" part was clever because I was only designing print at the time. Get it .... ink and print. I think you're starting to see why I've struggled so much. I should have stuck with my name!

I thought my problems were solved once I married because I took on Alex's beautiful name - Zangeneh Azam. But if you're like most people I've encountered while having this name pronouncing it is tough and spelling it is even tougher.

So, to simplify I went with Mrs. Z Design. Cute, yes - serious business name, no. I also learned a BIG lesson after buying the url mrs-z-design.com that dashes are a PAIN IN THE ASS in both emails and urls. So don't do it. You've been warned ... 

So I decided I wanted to get rid of the dashes and simplify so my business name became sza.me. Now, this one was great because it was short and easy enough to remember. But what exactly did it say about me and my brand? Nothing. It wasn't a brand it was a portfolio site. I needed something with chops. Something bigger .... 

I was also at a strange point in my life. I had just quit a state job that had been slowly sucking the life out of me. So I was recovering from that and trying to find my true voice again. I needed color, vibrancy, rule-breaking, adventure, dirt on my boots, and freedom. 

For months nothing was clicking. Nothing felt right even after working through branding e-courses and reading everything I could find on naming a business.

It wasn't until I took a trip to New Mexico and let it all go that I connected with the wild inside of me. It was there that Wild Woman was born.

I wholeheartedly loved my brand because it was ME. And creating it helped me get back in touch with who I really am; a wild creator. 

Wild Woman branding

That being said, it only lasted about a year. It was when I was knee deep in craft fairs and making zero money. Selling my feather earrings and organic lotions that I realized it was a passion project - rather than an actual design and photography studio. 

But I'm thankful for what I created through Wild Woman because it was the first time I actually connected with my brand.

Because a brand is more than just a logo, a color palette, images, and typefaces. A brand is a feeling and a mood. It's also your voice and the message you put out there every time you post something or speak about your business. It's a cohesive whole of individual elements.

So I decided to move on and rebrand. I felt sad letting go of Wild Woman because there is more I want to do with it. I've always wanted to start a WW retreat where wild-boss-women from all over gather, talk shop, and breath in fresh air together. So maybe that will happen one day.

Ok. Enough of Wild Woman ... onto the next rebrand.


Enter GRAIN + GRID.

This time around I wanted a brand that would stand the test of time and at first, I thought this would.

But after a while the name felt too kitschy and I simply got tired of it. Sure, the design was refreshing and made me feel more professional. Yet, it wasn't exactly a rebrand it was a refresh.

The truth is, I hadn't figured out who my dream clients were or what exactly I wanted to do. Instead of narrowing in and getting laser focused I went broad and showed ALL of my work. I showed my travel photos and magazine work, invitations, greeting cards, brochures etc ... There was no focus in my message or in what I was doing and I wasn't getting hired.


So I quietly changed the name of my business to Steph Zangeneh Studio.

I didn't make any announcements or talk much about it. But I slowly transitioned the site (after a few different designs) to what it is today.

Most importantly my message and purpose became clear: branding, website design and photography for boss women. 

I only showed the work I wanted to be doing instead of everything I've ever done. The magical thing is that once I got clear and narrowed my focus my dream clients (boss women) started hiring me. 

So in a way, I'm back to square one as far as naming my business goes. For now I'm still using my name even though there are drawbacks. But if that magical new name comes along that can encompass my message in a better way I will definitely go for it and change. 


UPDATE: I have finally rebranded and found THE name for my brand and business: Wild Within Studio. Here were the deciding factors:

1. Though I think my name is beautiful, for some it’s hard to spell, pronounce and remember.

2. Most importantly, I wanted a name that speaks to the women I work with. Because I believe that the WILD WITHIN is where the magic lies.

There are so many meanings connected with the triangle but I chose it as my symbol because a triangle is pure power. It’s strong and everything it needs to STAND UP comes from within.


PRO TIPS:

  1. Start with your name. But if you get porn spam or people can't spell or pronounce it then it's probably not a good name for your business.
  2. Use word association games. Write down all words that have to do with your business (use a thesaurus) and get creative. Then take your favorite words and write them on post it notes and cover a wall. Move them around until something starts feeling like YOU.
  3. Make sure it's simple and easy to remember. The shorter the better in my opinion. 
  4. Avoid kitschy and using dashes! You want your name to stand the test of time and you want people to take your business seriously. 
  5. MAKE SURE THE URL IS AVAILABLE. I just can't stress this enough. 
  6.  Most importantly make sure it's YOU. Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy and you can't stop looking at it? Then it's a good fit.

What are your thoughts on naming a business? Have you had a tough time?