In this day and age, naming what we do can often be the hardest aspect of our work. We are, after all, wearing so many hats that it can be challenging to bundle everything up into a nice, pretty package that people understand.
When I first decided to plunge into the entrepreneurial world, I knew I would need a business name that was catchy and creative, but also a name that portrayed a certain image. I remember talking to my good friend Robyn Haddow (who designed my logo) and she was asking me ‘Outside the Box’ questions about my business. The whole process was very telling – all of my answers showed me that my business was seeped in history, yet had a very personal feel to it. Now I had to name that feeling. Easier said than done.
I clearly remember the day I named my business – my partner Johan and I were at Simply French cafe in Kitsilano and I was scribbling down names that represents what I thought my business would do. I had expected words like ‘Branding’ and ‘Marketing’, but I also had words like ‘Empowering’ and ‘Community Building’. Then I wrote down the word NARRATIVE on a napkin. It seemed so obvious that I discounted it right away. For some reason I felt like I had to work for the name. We were enjoying our cappucino’s when the owner, a lovely Turkish man who had lived in Paris with his family for years, came over and started chatting with us. I told him what I wanted to do with my business and showed him my napkin and he smiled and said “That’s it!”.
I have helped name countless businesses, campaigns and projects, yet coming up with a name that embodied the essence of what I do was stressful. I had to turn the tables on my own business and start treating it like I would a client. The key to a good name is to have it be specific and general at the same time. You want it to inform people about your business, but you also want it to invite the imagination and allow for growth and change. Logo design and icons can help with this, but you ideally want it to easily roll of the tongue.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that by naming my business ‘Narrative’ I would find myself on a journey I never expected. My name has led me to people who study narrative therapy and leadership, to conflict resolution specialists and mediators, it has even led me to performance artists around the world who recognize the art form of storytelling. My business is expanding to include new ideas and new ways of building narrative. I am working with clients who understand the need to focus on the internal state of their organization while at the same time sending messages out to the general public through websites, video and twitter.
Corporate Storytelling can be a powerful tool that can build bridges and help people see eye to eye within an organization. My role is to bring different groups together and use the simple, yet often neglected, role of storytelling to help people connect at a more personal and emotional level.