We were given a brief to develop our own collective design studio. Create its branding and promotional outputs.
A good opportunity to give a psychological deadline to an aim I have for the last couple, well actually quite more, years. At the age of 16th I started working commercially and created my first start-up, a freelance web design studio named “Web Beast”. This is how I got involved and since then haven’t done any different job than designing. Probably a good name for a 16th years old, but as I look back to it now it’s infantile, too literal and not very appropriate. Anyway, 5 years ago it was a good place to start. With the new task on hands to create a design studio I have a solid reason tо “overcome the obstacle between vision and reality” (strictly speaking in terms of creating a design studio).
Unsurprising start: Naming
Without any surprises the first and maybe one the hardest of all parts of this long way process is the NAMING. Initially what started as a “I’ll give it a shot and we’ll decide on a name in the next couple of days” ended to be a very thorough research process. As a multidisciplinary designer I was always fascinated by all design and creative fields including branding, copy writing, copyrighting and now naming. I believe a holistic approach to the business is what makes a good design company. You can certainly be a good web designer but that doesn’t guarantee you won’t end up with a weak brand identity or with a stupid name like “GreatWebDesignSolutions.com” for your company. So this is where appreciation for the work of copywriters and linguists comes (yes, there are even people doing “naming” for living”.)
I decided a good starting foundation is to check how the professionals are doing it and ordered a book Designing Brand Identity which is exactly what it states to be: essential guide for branding. Starting from the basics of brand identity through process and then shows some best practices. The first step as you can guess is conducting research. With sketchbook and my macbook in front of me I started researching the market and the competition. What makes good brands good? Especially when it comes to naming the company I came to few conclusions.
1. Brief. The name has to be as brief as possible. Probably the only thing good digital and design studios have in common is the shortness of the name: Poke, R/GA, AKQA, Viget, Rokkan, Odopod, Landor and so on. Some of them are literal names (abbreviations or founder name), others are metaphors but the thing they have in common is the shortness of their name.
2. Aliteral. Every person has a name which doesn’t represent any of his/hers physical or psychological characteristics. So it’s with brands. A name should not be descriptive or literal (i.e. Cool Design Company™). It has to be unique and lateral.
3. Conceptual. A good name has a creative concept behind it. Creating the brand identity is way more easier and the results will be unique.
4. It stands out. A good name can be ambiguous. A good name doesn’t tell its story the first time you view it. It leaves the viewer wondering and make him merge in the brand to understand “Why?” This is how a good name stands out.
5. Unique. A good name is unique. For some having a name that’s already registered as other company or domain name may not be an issue but personally I think for start-up companies having a unique name that is not in use is one of the top priorities. Dozens of new companies and design studios are emerging every month if not week. If you google your name and 5 more (some of them in the same niche as you) are appearing maybe it’s not best idea to choose that name. People will find you hard in the search engines and will remember you harder.
In the next posts I’ll share a bit more of the process of researching, our strategy and finally choosing our name and creating our brand identity.