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Business // Rebranding: What’s in a Name?

If you’re currently deciding on a business name, then take heart– down at the bottom are some tips!

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Naming our daughter was one of the most enjoyable experiences ever.  I loved thinking about names, writing them out, figuring out if/how they’ll be made fun of on the playground at school, and what the initials might spell.  We wanted a name that was meaningful to us, professional, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, not super popular, but also not completely obscure.  It was down to Hazel & Willow, with Hazel being the final choice.  Two & a half years later I still think it’s the most perfect name!

Believe it or not, coming up with a business name was way more difficult.  I remember living in South Carolina and throwing out all sorts of crazy business names each night while walking our dogs.  We must have gone through a hundred names, with ninety of them being completely ridiculous.  The truth was, I didn’t know what to name my business because I wasn’t even sure of what it was yet!

For my daughter, I knew a few things for certain: she was a girl, a human, and would likely go to school, then one day get a job, get married, and have kids of her own.  The name Hazel works well in all those scenarios, and is a perfectly appropriate name whether she does trash pick-up, is a teacher, or an astronaut.

But my business?  Well, that could grow in a thousand different directions.  Maybe I would just be a local photographer for families, or maybe I’d get into newborns? Or perhaps I’d go into fashion photography?  Or weddings?  Would I hire extra people?  There were so many questions, so many possibilities, and so much commitment with a name!

I finally landed on Fowler Photo.  It felt like everyone & their brother had a photography business named First Name Last Name Photography.  And honestly, that’s great because it gives a personal feel to their business & makes them easily recognizable.  But I didn’t want to be the same.  I also didn’t want to be Shooting Star Photography or something like that.  Names like that can really work some advantages for a business as well, but it just wasn’t me.  Fowler Photo gave a little piece of me, and a little piece of what I did.  Not too specific so I could add on later, but also not too impersonal that my name wasn’t recognizable.

Fast forward to 2012 and Josh started toying around with wedding highlight films.  It was pretty clear early on that we would be adding this on to the business, so the name dilemma arose again!  But this time it was much easier.  I know what my business is & where we’re headed.  I know that we love weddings, but also love to do family sessions & commercial films. Fowler Studios fit all our current needs perfectly, and will work well with future expansions we have in mind.  It’s personal, but also a little non-descript except to know that we’re some sort of artsy thing. :)  From Fowler Studios, you might buy music, a commercial, a wedding film, wedding photography, a family photo session, or you might even take a class from Fowler Studios.  The possibilities are wide open!  It also sets us apart in a market that can sometimes feel saturated.  pintopinterest

I have to say, it was really sad leaving Fowler Photo behind.  I’ve worked so hard these past 4 years building up a solid business, treating people right, and making a name for myself.  But Fowler Studios enters a new era: Honoring the name we’ve built & looking forward to new opportunities.  And so far, it’s been amazing!

So what names did we go through to get to this process?  I’ll indulge you with a few that I can remember!

When we chose Fowler Photo:
Fowler Foto (I hated it but everyone else seemed to love it)
Fowlertography (Interesting & fun, but would be a nightmare for SEO & trying to tell people how to spell it!)
Susan Fowler Photography (It didn’t look pretty to me, and I secretly always wanted Josh to join me!)
Shooting Star Photography (Shooting stars are a special part of our love story, but just not “me” when it came to a business name.)
June Photography (I was born in June.  I love the name June!)

When we chose Fowler Studios:
Big Cove Studios (Where I grew up.  This one was Josh’s idea.  While it is very meaningful to us, the name just wouldn’t evoke emotion for others like it does for us.)
Big Cove Productions
Big Cove Films (Didn’t include photos)
Josh Fowler Cinematography (We used this name briefly.)
Mountain Top Productions (We live at the beach, so even though this is meaningful to our past, it just didn’t quite fit.)
Hazelwood Studios (I loved this one!  The big downside was that it would have been a complete name change & we would have lost all name recognition in the community.)

I can’t remember all the other crazy names we came up with, but you get the idea!

If you’re looking for a business name, here are a few tips!

1) Just start writing everything out.  Eventually something will jump off the page at you.  Even if you think a name is silly, write it down.  Sometimes as you’re writing you’ll think of something else, or you’ll see two words that seem to go together.  This won’t happen all in one sitting.  Keep writing names for at least a few days or a week to start with.  A business name is a big deal!

2) Ask for suggestions from others.  A good 80% of them will not fit you at all, but there might be a few gems in there!

3) Mark off names that you hate or that bother you.  I still can’t figure out why Fowler Foto bothered me so much, but it did, and I’m so glad I didn’t choose a name I disliked just because everyone else loved it.

4) Live with the names you love.  Write them out, check out website url openings for them, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. A name is no good if it’s already taken by 15 others!

5)  Get verbal!  Along the lines of #4, say the name out loud & spell it out loud.  Tell it to others and ask them to spell it for you.  F’s & S’s sound a lot alike over the phone.  Anytime I say our business name over the phone I say “Fowler- F as in Frank -O-W-L-E-R.”   Fowler, Sowler, Towler… all of that sounds the same on the phone.

6) How much do you really love the name?  A name may seem perfect, but if you’re not really in love, go back to the drawing board with it.

I hope those tips help!  Tell me, who is looking for a name, and what do you have in mind?  pintopinterest

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