The four phases of naming our design studio

Over the years we have been involved in many naming projects: from company names to more fleeting names such as those used to brand an event or a campaign. By far the hardest naming project has been re-naming ourselves: from Steve Scott Graphic Design to Another Colour.

So how do we go about choosing a name? There are four phases to our naming projects.

Phase one – the assessment

Sometimes you just feel like a change: you might get a haircut, or buy a colourful pair of sneakers. But you rarely change your name (unless you’re on the run). So why did we do it?

This was something that we thought about long and hard. Do we really need a new name? Or do we just need a new look? What were the pros and cons? Changing our name could be costly – registering the new name, updating stationery, changing signage and relaunching our website all adds up. Would we lose all our brand equity that we have built up? After months of discussion we decided that a new name should really only be adopted if our current name was truly ineffective. And since it no longer was (read about that story here) we decided to take up the challenge.

Phase two – the word map

To come up with a name, we started a list. Anytime we heard a word we liked we added it to the list. It didn’t have to be for any reason in particular – could have been spotted on the side of an ice-cream truck. If we liked it, we just added it. Seeing words from other team members often catalysed a string of new words that were completely unexpected. We used wordnik to uncover synonyms and hyponyms. Then we paired different words for poetic effect: rhymes, alliteration, consonance and assonance. We looked for words that had multiple meanings, words that were relevant to our business and words that were euphonic.

Phase three – the shortlist

In reality, this was actually a longlist. A very long list. We toyed with numerous ideas that ranged from the technical (Flux, Twindragon, Vertex), to cute (Lost Mittens, Ugly Duckling, Plastic Kitten), to random (Blushing Crow). Old names (Loom, Challice, Harbinger, Talisman) and names we made up (Vixo, Ography). Pretty names (Gossamer, Lucent, Inkling, Meld) and ugly names (Concoction, Fat Lattice). Word plays (Hue Diligence, About Space, Colourbind) to names that were poetic (Rubber Hydra, Shapeshift). We really liked Playpen (we “play” with pens) – but googling that kept bringing up porn.

Phase four – trying it on

When we finally settled on Another Colour, we put it through The Checklist, a series of questions we ask to ensure the success of a new name. We ran the name past a test group to see it there were any pitfalls.

We stuck it up on the pin board in our studio in large letters and over the next few weeks it became a little shrine that we looked at every day as we tried to decide if it suited us. Gradually, the cheeky half-rhyme grew on us more and more and it inspired a lot of other ideas to roll out with our new identity.

We liked the many different and relevant meanings the name could convey. It highlighted the ways we do things differently from our competitors – offering both creativity and pragmatism to all our projects. It also represented the importance of having fun with design and a celebration of colour. One of our favourite aspects of the name is that on each page of our website our logo literally becomes, another colour.