What's In a Name?

Being an elementary school teacher turned small business owner has been quite the journey. My last few months have been spent with nonstop reading, note taking and learning- trying to do as much of the heavy lifting possible myself. Starting a business from scratch is expensive and in order to stay in budget I knew there would be tasks I would have to learn on my own where in some cases businesses would hire people.

When starting this process, multiple people reiterated the necessity of a great name and strong branding. Who would have thought that coming up with a name for a business could be so difficult?

Luckily for me I had a fabulous neighbor (who just moved back to Chicago-and boy do I miss her!) who walked me through the entire branding process starting with the correct steps for coming up with a strong name. The first of which is to collect words.

I spent months writing down words that conveyed the brand I wanted to create. I read books, magazines, newspapers, (travel sections have the most beautiful descriptive words) even the dictionary, just looking for words. I annoyed my mom, my friends and my neighbors asking them to send along words they heard and liked. I listened to hundreds of podcasts with a pencil in my hand.

I sat and revised my list of words multiple times, narrowing down words that were not 100% aligned with my brand.  I added words, omitted words, and even added some back.

Weeks went by and still no name. Then I got stuck. Really stuck.

People warned me about this-they say the hardest part of starting a business is coming up with a name. In my state of desperation and agitation (and not being able to sit still) I came up with a plan. I couldn’t have a name stand in my way of moving my progress forward (it’s hard to have people take you seriously when you don’t even know what you’re calling your business.)

I knew the foundation of my brand was centered around tabletop decor. So, what I decided to do one day was take everything off my table and set it from scratch. The teacher in me decided to write down every word that described what I was doing as I set the table. I had three categories (which I didn’t realize I was sorting words into until the end), nouns, verbs and adjectives.  I wrote down every word-from fork to spoon, to fold and sit. Then it dawned on me-what I was doing was placing items on the table. After you place items, people gather to eat or drink. Place & Gather-it made sense. And just like that, after months of lists, I had a name.

Immediately, I called my 12 or so trusted and sometimes brutally honest advisors. For the first time in this process I got “Oh, that’s really great!” and “Wait, I get it-that’s clever!” from every single one-and I knew that was it.

Having a solid name gives you a jumping off point for the rest of your branding. And so it turns out-there is a lot in a name.