As my journey toward entrepreneurship begins, I have had the pleasure of knowing most of my clients on a personal level. This can be a blessing and a curse, but let’s focus on the blessing. My Aunt Jackie holds a special place in my heart because, from childhood until now, she is the only entrepreneur that I know personally. The obstacles and triumphs that I watched her endure were eventually added to the inspiration for my current trajectory. I say “eventually” because originally I perceived them as a cautionary tale: “You don’t want the responsibility that business ownership brings.” Apparently, I do now.
This branding project came about when my Aunt Jackie contacted me for help with a logo design because she was preparing to change the name of her salon. She was filing her DBA paperwork and the name was going to be “Designs by J. Luvly.” I then did something very hypocritical; I suggested that she not use the word “Designs” in her business name. The sole proprietor of “Nakevia Designs” expressed her regret of the hasty decision to file any name simply for the sake of having a name and that she may be changing the name of her business soon. However, a later discussion with my supervisor about his portfolio students settled my discomfort. He said that with our business, coming up with a creative name can backfire because we use our website and other self-promotional branding materials for freelance/business ownership purposes and employment interchangeably. So, at this point in my career, it is better for the designer’s name to be readily available to the viewer.
In an effort to save her from my then perceived “doom,” I executed a hyper speed version of my Business Name Development phase to provide a soft landing, after I snatched the legs from her chair. In this case, my personal relationship with her gave me extra insight on her services and background.
- She specializes in African-American hair
- She does not do braids
- She holds a leadership position in her church (that rules out sex appeal)
- She likes to have a little urban flair with her elegance
- She takes pride in enhancing the beauty of others
Armed with this knowledge, I did a little research and shot her a list of about 10 names. Basically replacing “designs” with words that better personified her passion for her craft. Yes, this is a unique situation transpired entirely through text messages in the course of a couple of hours.
When I saw the word “adorn” in my keyword search my creative rejoiced, which feels like what I can only describe as an instantaneous, yet temporary loss of breath. I won’t say “my heart skips a beat,” because that suggests heart conditions that I want no part of. I continued the list, in order to exhaust all possibilities, but number five was for sure the winner. In the moment, my subconscious did not reveal why, but working through the Logo Design phase revealed the significance of the word.
“Adorned” resonated with me because of my spiritual education. This word is often used in association with the Romans placing a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head prior to his procession to Calvary (stay tuned for her brand declaration in my portfolio). I would not dream of imposing religious connotation on my clients, but religion plays a large role in her life. I dropped the “e” to account for the urban criteria and “Adorn’d by J. Luvly” was born.
Business Name Development Tips
1. Skip the First Idea
Work passed the first idea or the most obvious name. If you have exhausted all other possibilities and the first idea is still stuck then, and only then, go for it.
2. Stand in Your Customers’ Shoes
What feelings do you want your brand experience to evoke? When they see your name will they immediately know what you do or will they be drawn in and intrigued to find out more?
3. Say It Out Loud
It should flow. If you are tripping over the words or the spelling is overly misleading, that’s not it. Names like that are remembered as “that _____ I can’t pronounce.” Only being committed to memory phonetically, after hearing someone say it aloud. What if they never come into the business to hear it?
4. Short & sweet or precise & prolific
It’s not a service list. It does not have to describe everything you do and/or sell. I try to stay at three words or less. If you can say it in one word you’re winning!
5. Sleep on It
Once you have it sleep on it, say it, share it! If it is right, it will enhance your vision and help others see it too.