Naming a business can be an interesting process and ever since I went through it myself a couple of years ago, I often find myself wondering about how other businesses got their name. The origins of some are obvious while others, like my own, are a little more obscure, and those are the ones that I’ve always been curious about.
After recently thinking back to when I came up with the name Sivioco for my freelance design business, I thought it would be a great time to write about my thought process and also take the opportunity to find out about the stories behind the names of several other creative businesses.
I got in touch with a bunch super talented entrepreneurial designers, illustrators, animators and marketers who were all more than happy to share their stories. Check out the list below to find out why these guys chose the names they did and where the names originated from:
The design agency founded by graphic designer Emir Ayouni:
“Basically, about 13-14 years ago or so, I had a bundle of work I had been doing and it had all come in via word-of-mouth so I decided to put together an online portfolio. At the time, I was just in a hurry to get a showcase together and didn’t have a name. My portfolio was growing fast and it was a online showcase. So… Growcase. Not much more complicated than that really. The name was supposed to be temporary, but just stuck. It should be noted that the name is in no way a reference to the concept of Grow Cases (a gardening method applied in empty computer chassis to grow plants). This was a phenomenon that arose years later.”
The design studio ran by UI design specialist Sarah Parmenter:
“When I was 17 I was bumbling around the internet, bumbling would be the right word – no sense of purpose at all, and came across a website that said “Designed by You Know Who” at the bottom. I was intrigued and clicked it. This took me through to a very formal, something like “Smith & Company Web Design”. It got me thinking why they had put “You Know Who”. I then realised I had been intrigued enough to click on it, and I bet I wasn’t alone. I checked whether there was any other company registered with that name at the time, which there wasn’t – and it became the name of my company a couple of years later.”
The content marketing
boutique barbershop founded by Catalin Zorzini:
“I consider the stash – along with bacon – to be one of the most recurring viral elements on the Internet. It has unlimited potential and has basically never gone out of fashion. Like the internet’s own Chanel 5 if you will. We consider ourselves very lucky to own this brand but we’re humble at the same time. As a great man once said, with a great mostash, comes great responsibility.
It started as a joke really but people seemed to like it and told us it makes sense for a content marketing studio to brand itself as a digital barbershop, which also makes it easier to remember. Plus we like to wear fake stashes for any occasion and now we have the perfect excuse.”
The freelance design agency of graphic designer Sean Farrell:
“I chose the name Brandclay for a few reasons. The main reason is that I’m a Christian and it ties in with my faith. I came up with the name when I read this verse:
‘We are the clay, and you are the potter Lord; we are all the work of your hands.’ Isaiah 64:8
I look at my creative pursuit like I think Christ looks at me – constantly forming, changing, and molding me into what He wants me to be. I look at the brands I take on the same way. It is truly my passion to mold, shape, and form the logo into a brand that will serve the clients needs.”
The Boston based design studio of Richie Stewart:
“I grew up in a blue collar environment and have been working ‘name-tag’ jobs my whole life up until the past couple of years. Everything from being a mover, garbage man and factory worker to a delivery driver, janitor, gas station attendant and grocery store clerk. The list could easily continue for another paragraph.
So because of that, I wanted the name to be a simple homage to my working class background as to not forget what hard work means to me and where it can get you. The word ‘commoner’ was used as a way to describe a very broad section of society…just regular people somewhere in the middle, you know?
Conceptually, I thought a flag could work well as a jump off point as it is a symbol which can be representational of a large group of people belonging to a certain sect. In this case it would be the working class. The arrow imagery was derived from stories of Robin Hood as he and his group were originally classified as commoners. I always thought of Robin Hood to be like the DIY king in the sense of going out, getting what you want and making it up as you go along.”
The art and design studio of Chuck Anderson:
“NoPattern began while I was in high school, around the age of 17. At the time it was really just a place for me to put my personal work and start using as a catalyst to share the things I made. Drawings, photography, digital art, whatever. Some of the works were projects for art classes in high school – I was taking pretty much all art classes by the time I hit senior year – and some of it was stuff I made on my own after school.
Eventually NoPattern turned into the actual company it is for me today, but as far as the name itself is concerned, it was really the kind of thing where I wrote a lot of ideas down and went with the one that stuck out to me the most. It’s probably not a lot different than how a band comes up with a name. All the members throw ideas out there and they go with the one everyone has the best gut feeling about. That’s what NoPattern was for me. Simple, short, and memorable.
I guess what I loved about it was the literal definition of it describing me as someone who isn’t boxed in to one style or one aesthetic. Even though I’ve come to be known mostly for my bright colorful photographic work, I still do a lot of drawing by hand, collage, all different kinds of things.
It’s really reflective of who I am as a person – very inconsistent, different interests seemingly every day, always trying out different things and keeping an open mind. No definitive pattern to the work I make, no pattern to who I am as a person. That was my thinking when I came up with it over 10 years ago and I’m just glad I still like it today!”
The working burrow of illustrator, animator and designer Glenn Thomas:
“The Fox And King came to life from wanting a name that had more character (or in this case, characters) to it that I could tell some stories with. I had been working with a business partner under an old name, We Are Synapse, and wanted to move in a solo direction with a name that was more fun, relaxed and flexible. With The Fox And King I was able to illustrate and print some A5 character cards and I’ve also started writing a short story which eventually I hope to Illustrate.
The names themselves originate from my hometown, where a restaurant called The Snooty Fox resided. I played around with that concept and eventually came up with a corresponding character – The Grumpy King. I frequently get asked which character I am, and in truth, I’m probably a little of both.”
Finally, here’s my story:
The independent design studio of freelance designer Sam Jones:
“The obvious choice as a freelancer would have been to use my own name but I know at least another three designers with the name Sam Jones, so I decided to try and come up with something that would distinguish me from the others. It was a sporadic process that lasted a number of days and resulted in a lot of different ideas. The breakthrough came after discovering a list of company name etymologies where I read about the origins of names like Nikon, Amstrad, and Capcom, which were all created from a blend of several different words. For example, Capcom came from Capsule Computers.
This technique of blending words was something I decided to have a go at myself, but even after multiple attempts I still wasn’t happy with the results. I had an idea of what I wanted my name to represent, which was the freedom to do anything, and I also really liked the idea of coming up with something that related to the quote, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life’. However I felt that the relative english words I was using were too cheesy and didn’t sound particularly good when blended together. This is when I decided to look into latin words and I came across two that were perfect for what I was trying to achieve. These were ‘lascivio’ which means “to run riot or play” and ‘vaco’ which means, “to be free from work or a master”.
I made a couple of attempts at blending them together before settling on the following: LASCIVIO + VACO = SIVIOCO. I removed the ‘c’ from ‘lascivio’ so that there would be no confusion over the intended pronunciation (siv-ee-oh-co) and it would be easier to remember. I then did a quick search online to make sure it wasn’t already being used and that it wasn’t a word that meant something offensive in another language. Thankfully I couldn’t find a thing, so I slept on it and the following morning decided that Sivioco would be the name.”
A huge thanks to all those who contributed and of course you guys for reading.
If you’re a business owner with an interesting story to share we would love to hear from you in the comments section below.