Update This post has become one of our most popular articles—which made us think: could we do more to help creatives & freelancers name their businesses and products? This led us to develop Give it a Name—an all new brainstorm workbook to help you name your business or product the right way. SAVE 33% using promo code name33
It’s time to name my design business, and I really need your help. But first, a little back story:
When I got laid off last February after 5 years with the company, I was devastated.
I loved my core coworkers.
I needed the paycheck.
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I hated that I had been chosen as the weakest link (which probably isn’t true – I also received the biggest paycheck).
literally the next day I started looking for another full-time job.
I attacked looking for a job. I signed up on all of the major job sites, the design sites, and polished my LinkedIn profile. I applied to maybe 30 jobs in the next month and received 2 interviews. (Neither came through.)
It was in those two interviews where I showcased my portfolio that I realized I had almost nothing to show for 5 years of my career. My portfolio sucked. I had more work from college than I did from my previous company.
So I did what any rational, broke-and-unemployment, scared twenty-something designer would do. I begged my dad for $545 to attend a design class at the local art college.
Being the big proponent of continual education he was, he obliged. The class promised to provide me with several portfolio pieces, and not only did it provide me with two fantastic pieces, I also received excellent advice and inspiration and that rejuvenated feeling of being worthwhile and good at graphic/web design.
I also took a page out of Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek and struck up a conversation with the owner of Infoglyphs who designed infographics. I mentioned that I loved her work and hoped one day to get the opportunity to create infographics myself. She told me to design my resume as an infographic and if it was good enough, she’d add me to her designer pool. (It was, and we continue to have a great relationship today.)
I took a chance on craigslist and responded to a need for a local school’s website redesign. It was a legit post and I got the job! (The website turned out fantastic.)
Around that time I started posting my design work on my Facebook profile. Most of my family members and friends knew I was laid off and their question always was – after I told them I was a graphic/web designer, “Okay. So what do you do?”
This was (and continues to be) a great way to (1) show off, (2) get my portfolio viewed by a vast and varied group of people who know and care about me, and (3) maybe get a lead.
I got lucky.
#1-3 are a giant success. My friends and family ooh and aah over my work and tell me how wonderful I am. AND, an ex-coworker asked me if I were interested in an ongoing relationship with a friend of his that needed design work for the San Jose, California Zoo. YES! (We’re negotiating this year’s projects right now.)
Holy crap! A month ago nobody wanted me for a full-time job and now I had 3 major freelance clients, 2 of which were ongoing relationships? And if one went away, I still had another? This freelance thing was looking up.
But what do I call myself?
Then I hit a wall. What do I call myself? April C. Greer, Designer? Greer Design Studio? Greer Graphics? April Makes Pretty Things? Big Ideas Design? Etc. etc.
I’m not one to make big decisions on a whim, so I put it off.
I didn’t really have a design business, right? Just a few clients that pay me on a regular basis to drop supreme awesomeness on them. Oh. Yeah. That’s called a design business. (Now with a sweet portfolio.)
Thankfully, I bought a quick guide and immediately started working through the exercises to name my business.
Update: if you’re still looking for a simple way to name your business, you should try SquadHelp’s naming service. It’s incredible.
On a cross-country plane ride I filled an entire notebook page full of words related to me and my business. I circled the ones that spoke most to me and started putting them together. And then I slept. And shifted uncomfortably in my seat. And ate airplane food. And wished I had learned to ‘apparate’ in school instead of the names and locations of all 52 counties and county seats in the state of Montana.
It’s been two months since that plane ride and the initial naming of my design business. I’ve been mulling over the name that I am about to present to you since that time. Here are the criteria I want my business name to meet:
- Meaningful to me.
- NOT Design/Studio/Graphics. Everybody does that and I don’t think a business name needs to say what you do (Apple, Nike). Incorporating my name into the title is a plus.
- Adheres to these three adjectives that describe my design business: professional, outstanding (quality & customer service), personable.
- Easy to say/spell.
- Not taken by someone else, in name or URL.
SO, drum roll, please…
Here’s what I came up with: Greer Genius.
To me, it meets my criteria as follows:
- Before I got laid off, when my coworkers would ask if I was done with a project, I used to say, “Genius takes time.” Also if I had done something I deemed utterly fantastic for the day, I’d announce that I was a sheer genius and show off my brain-child.
- I believe we are all intelligent enough to understand why I don’t need to explain this one.
- To me it sounds professional. Genius refers to high-quality, and my name gives it a more personable feel than a random adjective would.
- Read #2. Also, if you say it out loud, it rhymes with “sheer genius” (which I also thought of using as my business name and have since rejected as not “me” enough).
- Please don’t be a jerk and take it. 😉
Now it’s your turn
Ok, Millo readers: I’m asking your honest opinion, with as much tact as you can muster (hey, I’m a real person with feelings, too!). What do you think? Do you agree or disagree that it meets my criteria? Would you do business with this name? Is it too cocky? – take a look at my portfolio before you answer.
I solemnly promise that if you help me name my design business, I’ll help you name yours. Leave a comment on this post with answers to my questions and your own questions about your name. Post your design business name in the comments so we can all offer feedback to each other!
Update: if you’re still looking for a simple way to name your business, try our brainstorm workbook, Give it a Name.
Oh, and as a friendly reminder….Once you’ve got your business name, do a quick double check to see if the URL is available before you settle in. We’ve made it easy by installing Bluehost‘s domain searcher below:
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