Thursday, May 14, 2015

Naming a Business: Tell Your Story

I am a story teller. I find comfort in the steady cadence of a story well told, the way life and love and loss are woven out of shapes and sounds. My life is full of stories. Yours is too.

Your business name has a story behind it, even if it's named after you. Who you are, who you love, what makes you laugh, why you chose self employment over punching a time clock - yours is a story that your customers want to hear. Give them a reason to choose you over anyone else - show them your heart, your hands at work, your triumphs, your mistakes. Share your process, your epiphanies, your plans for the future. Tell them your story.

Here is mine: This is my baby brother Russell. He was five years old in the fall of 1961 when we moved to our new house. As he and our 26 year old mom stood in the back yard exchanging I love yous, Rusty reached for the biggest, tallest love he could see, lifted his hands to the sky and cried "Oh mummy - I love you as much as the trees!" In the 50+ years that have passed since that autumn day, the word Trees as an expression of love has made its way into every card & letter, every moment of tenderness, every goodbye. This tree story has been told and retold so many times that it is an integral part of our family history.

In 2011, I bought 9 metal channel letters at a local consignment store. Four consonants. C-C-R-T. Five vowels. E-E-E-E-I. They didn't seem to have much to say and spent the first year scattered around our dusty studio. When my new desk was installed, I cleaned them up and arranged them randomly across the top of my new wall cabinets.

Months later, I looked at that odd assemblage and broke into a wide smile. There, hidden among the gibberish was the name my little niece Taylor called me - REE. And so REE it was, until one day the letter T finally caught my attention. I laughed out loud, called it serendipity and added another chapter to my story.

In the summer of 2012, our new assistant suggested a use for one of the Cs. For a time, TREE was rearranged to spell ERECT, which we found endlessly entertaining.

This is my baby boy, Neal. He was five years old in the summer of 1998 when we moved into our new house. Surrounded by tall trees that waved and danced in the wind, our woods were alive with wild life and bird song. My favorite was the Chickadee. This little black and white bird has been a part of my memories since I was a tiny little girl.

Each time we heard its song my mother would feign surprise, look around and whisper "Listen! That's your bird! Do you hear it?" She'd mimic its three note call - one high note followed by two repeating lower notes - "Where's Sheree? Where's Sheree?" She'd hold me in her arms as I looked around in awe, never seeing that bird but knowing that its call was only for me. It was my bird.

When Neal was born, that early morning bird sang a new song. Like my mother, I held him in my arms, looked up at the trees and exclaimed "Listen! Do you hear that? That's your bird!" And I'd repeat his name in that same three note call - "Neal Michael, Neal Michael." It was his bird.

At 18, Neal was a 6'-4", 230 pound man. I remember the day when he poked his head in the kitchen door and yelled "Mom, do you hear that? That's my bird!" Outside the window, our bird was singing our songs. It was a bonding moment, the two of us smiling, each warmed by our childhood memories. I could see the future in my mind so clearly: Him singing that three note song when he passed on his bird.

Neal died in a motorcycle street racing accident on August 20th, 2012. He was 19. That winter, after our first real snow, I went to check on his grave. The roads leading to his place beneath the pines went from plowed to tire tracks to virgin snow. There was no place or way to turn around so I continued on. An hour later, as I stood beside my hopelessly stuck car, I heard the sweet, familiar song of Neal's bird. His body may be gone, but his spirit is always with me. He is my angel and it soothes me to imagine him blazing across the skies on strong, wide wings calling "I'm with you, I'm with you."

Choosing a name for your business takes time. You'll turn away hundreds of possibilities before the right one presents itself. When it does, you'll know. Saying no leads you closer to yes - to the right meaning, the right sound, shape, story. For me, yes began with a reminder from the universe. My new business name and tag line speaks to house and home - perfect for my new line of home decor and art prints. Wing & Tree. It's easy to pronounce and remember, looks good in print and has a meaningful story behind it. I love it.


This is the third in a series of Naming a Business posts. Read the first here and the second here.
What is your business name and how did you choose it? Let us know in the comments section below.

TTYL






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