What Is In A Name
I was born Andrew Ward, but I never go by the name Andrew. Why?
There were 7 Andrews in my primary school class of like 30 kids. So all of us couldn’t go by Andrew, there was an Andy, a Drew, or in my case, Wardy.
Why did my parents choose such a common name? Naming something – a kid or a business – bestows upon that thing, a whole bunch of expectations, for the life you want for that child or as founders you want for that business.
These days, when I look at my own kids names, and those of their class-mates. There is barely 2-kids with the same name, let alone 7 with the same name.
Not a single Andrew, John, Michael, Paul, Phillip, Joe, Robert, Mitchell or Simon amongst them.
Not a single Sarah, Kate, Emma, Jennifer, Michelle, Patricia, Fiona or Sally amongst them.
This is my “lived experience” of generational change. My parents generation sought to have me included – Andrew wasn’t a name that would make me stick out from the pack.
As was their social environment, they used a good christian-origin name and included a grandfather in there as middle name for good luck (and I assume a nod to the past generations).
For my own kids, no such luck.
For all the kids that they go to school with, it seems more likely that their names were chosen to help express their individual identity.
It all started with names like “River” or “Phoenix”.
Then developed to characteristic traits that parents would’ve liked to bestow upon their kids like; Chastity (that’s a weird one), Charity, Faith, Hope or Zen.
There’s been a bit of a geographic flurry too (perhaps linked to place of conception?). What with all the; Adelaide’s, Victoria’s, Denver’s, Austins’s and Paris’s out there.
Todays top 6 boys names are: Noah, Liam, Mason, Jacob, William, Ethan. Top 6 girls names are: Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Isabella, Mia, Abigail.
The world (that I live in) has changed in the last 40 years the way we do naming conventions in respect to children.
A name used to be something that helped you assimilate into society. It now is something more like an expression of you (bestowed upon you by your parents).
You might be asking what has this got to do with business?
Naming A New Venture
Recently a discussion took place about what to name a group that I’ve been working with.
Some people in the group thought we should be a “Lab” and others a “Network”. Were we for the “Commons” or “The Common Good”.
Perhaps, and this is the point, we were trying to create in our naming – and in the round and round discussions that go along with naming – the sort of life that we wish to bestow upon this infant businesses.
Not unlike the way we named children 40 years ago, when naming a business you wanted something that would put you at the front of the Yellow Pages “AAA Electrical” was basically the same as calling your kid Andrew.
Obviously with the internet, a new factor became getting a suitable domain name.
However, what is in a name hasn’t probably changed that much.
A Rose By Any Other Name
The name you give your business, your brand, your product, it says something about what you aspire for that infant business (thing) to become.
If you aspire to be a Lab with experimentation, then you must accept that a portion of people will resonate with this, whilst others will see your effort as “un-tested” not “experimenting”.
If in your naming of a new venture, you aspire to bestow on it some future assistance, then know this assistance is limited.
In the end you must understand that too many Andrew’s results in the market naming some of them “Wardy”.
The market will ultimately decide your name and brand. McDonalds is still Maccas, Woolworths is Woollies and Bunnings is “Church” for more people than actual church is…
At best you’ll name a venture for as long as it takes for the market to name it for you.
Hollywood has long understood the power of Names.
Hollywood delays giving a movie a name until a lot of the behind the scenes stuff inlcuding financing, distribution, cast etc has been worked out. Movies instead go by Holding Names until they are at a point of development where they can get a final (market-suitable, web available) name.
In working in the New Economy the practice of Holding Names could help relieve that anguish some people feel about naming of their emergent ventures.
By adopting a Holding Name ethos, you allow the project to more quickly develop and find its own market characteristics. It can then ultimately choose a better market-fitting name when it’s ready.
The job of founders initially is to get a Holding Name that allows the project to grow up, not a final name.