The Name Gamecomments (4) November 9th, 2008
In eighth grade, we had to read Romeo and Juliet, and I’ve always remembered this line that Juliet speaks to Romeo: “What is in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” According to Juliet, a name is essentially meaningless.
Not so much in business, unfortunately. For small businesses, especially, your name can make or break you. So when it came time to pick a name for our stationery store, I clocked in a lot of hours on websites like Entrepreneur.com, reading all I could about how to come up with the perfect name. I had started a list of potential store names years ago, when opening a stationery store was still a pipe dream, so I whipped it out, shared it with Anna and Jamison, and began adding to it.
First I played around with mixing and matching verbs, adjectives, and nouns, such as Paper Love, Paper Lust, and Proper Paper. Then I tried to be witty and use phrases that included the words “paper,” “note,” “written,” “letter” or “stationery,” including Good on Paper (already the name of a stationery-design company), Handmade Hellos (the name of a company and of book by a different paper company), Completely Stationery, Stationery Movers, and Write & Wrap.
I e-mailed my family and friends asking for new ideas and for their opinions on the names I’d already come up with. My friends seemed to better understand the direction I was leaning toward (high-end, sophisticated) and threw their support behind Paper & Pattern and Lovely Paperie. They also suggested names like The Stationery Salon and Duly Noted, whereas my family came back with names like Paper by PJ, Reamcatcher, and The Stationery Station…which didn’t exactly scream “chic” to me.
I also played around with the idea of using the word “Omaha” in the name in order to sound more credible. One thought was Omaha Paper Company, which unfortunately was already taken by a paper distributor. Anna, Jamison, and I thought Omaha Paperie could work until we realized that if we were ever to expand, say to Lincoln, NE, Omaha Paperie would no longer make any sense. Plus, family members ruled that having “Omaha” in the name sounded old-fashioned (I disagreed).
With my long list of names in hand, I went back on the Internet and researched every single one of them. I needed to make sure that that they weren’t already registered business names—or that the domain names weren’t already taken. But what if they were? For example, I liked The Paper Trail, but Paper Trails was already taken by a store outside of Cleveland. Could we have similar names—or even the same name—if our stores were in different states? What were the rules about using the same name as somebody else?
I decided to take my favorite names with me to the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco and run them past the creative CraftStylish girls. Jessica and Michaela helped me cross off a couple of weak names and add a few more clever ones (Three Sheets to the Wind, anybody?). I returned to Omaha determined to finalize the store’s name, so my business partners and I played the elimination game. I’d read off the entire list of names, and we’d each vote off our least favorite. Then I’d read the edited list, and we’d knock off three more names…and so on and so on until we were left with one. And the winning name was…one that will be revealed in a later post!
I will be taking a couple of weeks off from my column to take care of some wonderful new additions to my life: my first house and a puppy, a 5-month-old Maltipoo named Briscoe. While my goal was to have my store up and running before the end of the year, life can take unexpected turns, and I've learned that it's best to focus on them. I look forward to meeting you back here at CraftStylish in December!