What's in a Name?
The honorable Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi once taught us, while a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, a blog name provides a first impression for new visitors and ultimately defines your brand. We are slightly (very) embarrassed to say we spent well over 6 months working on our name before kicking off our Instagram account, to be sure our word-of-mouth presence would be just as strong as our content.
How we decided on our name is one of our FAQs, and a few fellow bloggers have asked for some insight into our process. Read on to see how we crafted our name and our lessons learned along the way.
Much of what we did is reminiscent of our day jobs as engineers, where we borrowed from key concepts of creative brainstorms. Hooray for the (surprise) versatility of an engineering degree! Our process can be summed up in 5 steps:
Note: we had the luxury of going through this process with two people. While the first couple of steps are more of an individual exploration, we think it’s important to involve other people later on to help you get out of your own head. It is really easy to get stuck on one idea, and having others around will provide a new perspective. We’ve highlighted in the following sections where having a fresh set of eyes would be helpful during this process.
The real step 1 is to get in your time machine and go back to 2nd grade, pull out those weird double-handed scissors and glue, and GET DIRRTYY (shout out Xtina). Stretch, exhale, ring the alarm, and get ready to craft your own personal style collage. The collage is an exercise in self-exploration - if you don’t know yourself, you can’t know your blog! Go to our Meet Amy & Adrienne posts to see our collages. This allowed us to understand how we wanted to portray ourselves as individuals, before we even discussed how to portray ourselves as a duo.
We then compared our collages, and when we did, we were both shocked to see where we are similar and where we are different. Before starting this activity, we expected to have a lot more similarities than differences between the two of us. However, by the end of it, we were both questioning everything we ever thought we knew about the other’s style.
Here’s some actual footage of how this went down:
AS: “WTF do you mean you don’t like PINK BOWS on EVERYTHING”
AE: “I mean I like them but I don’t want to be called pink bows”
AE: “What about [insert incredibly vague meta term here]?”
AS: “Stop trying to make fetch happen...”
AE: “FINE! You riiiiggghht”
This activity started out as something fun to get some momentum going but actually helped us appreciate the need to be balanced with our name so that we didn’t unintentionally favor one of us.
Lastly, this individual exploration gave us a chance to independently define what we ultimately want to get out of our blog. This is probably the most important aspect of teaming up with someone for a blog - to be sure you have mutual goals, just like in a relationship! Luckily, we both felt passionate about styling services, ranging from outfits to events to spaces (and thank G-O-D for that because we didn’t have the strength to question one more thing about our friendship that day).
Next up we identified key criteria for how we did and did not want to portray ourselves (i.e., are you a Britney or a Christina?) No joke. Take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and answer how you want to portray yourself before you read any further. DO IT. These criteria are essential for completing the rest of this process, and here’s why:
They are your litmus test for determining whether your name fits the image and purpose you defined in Step 1
They provide boundaries for you and provide potential focus areas for when you start to generate ideas (see Step 3)
You can apply them to your content creation down the road to help keep your content cohesive and in-line with your purpose
Here’s a peek at our criteria:
Indicates two people / a duo
Conveys multiple styles (that are sometimes contrasting)
Doesn’t pigeon hole us in one area (e.g., clothes)
Doesn’t limit us to a blog
Gives a nod to our engineering education
As you can see, we limited ourselves to just a handful of criteria. Too many and you’ll probably have a hard time narrowing down. Too few and you’ll probably have a hard time brainstorming and/or narrow down too much.
Once you’ve completed all of that prep work, you’re ready to rrrrRRRUMBLEEE. It’s time to start brainstorming your name. If you’re a solo blogger, this is where it might be helpful to grab a few good friends or family members to help you brainstorm.
Let yourself think of names for 5 minutes at a time. The guiding rule for this step is to withhold judgment. Withholding judgment can actually be the hardest part, but this is really the key to coming up with something good! Sure there might be some dumb ideas there, (for example, the following train of thought appeared not once, but TWICE on the list of names we brainstormed: “two scoops,” “waffle cone,” “sprinkles”) but those dumb ideas could lead you down a rabbit hole that gets you to the right idea! Plus, you’ll have some great things to laugh at later!
After 5 minutes, take turns reading your ideas out loud and allow yourselves to keep thinking of names. In the industry, we call this ~*~cross-pollination~*~ and it can be a spark to a great idea.
Cycle through at least a few 5-minute rounds to get a healthy number of ideas. If you find yourself spinning the same few words or ideas, try focusing on your criteria from Step 2 one at a time to switch up your line of thinking.
Now that you’re (hopefully) overflowing with names, pick out your favorites! If you’re still with your brainstorming crew, have each person pick out their top 2-5 (depending on the size of your crew). It’s ok if you pick the same one. That could even be a good indication about something that might work! If you’re by yourself, pick out your top ten.
Now go through each top pick with each of your criteria. Does that name meet your criteria? If not, it’s not the one! If nothing is fitting your criteria, sanity check your criteria. Is it too strict? Do you have too many? You may want to try out some new criteria in another round of Step 3.
Here’s how our name met our criteria. As you can see, the name doesn’t have to literally meet each one but instead meet the gist of the criteria.
Indicates two people / a duo → alliteration
Conveys multiple styles (that are sometimes contrasting) → play on femme fatale (which can be portrayed in many ways)
Doesn’t pigeon hole us in one area (e.g., clothes) → formme is a play on different forms (for us, clothes, decor, events, etc.)
Doesn’t limit us to a blog → name does not include blog, journal, diaries, or anything else like that
Gives a nod to our engineering education → formme is a play on formulation and form factor (one of the things we advise in our jobs)
At the end, you should have a select few for Step 5.
You wouldn’t buy a car without trying it first, and if your name is Gretchen Weiners, then you definitely wouldn't buy a skirt without asking your friends first if it looks good on you. Take your name for a test drive, too! Forcing yourself to practice saying it and introducing it to those close to you can help you gauge reactions and whether or not it feels right. It can also save you from picking a name that ends up being really awkward (for example, naming your cute little pet piggy Chris P. Bacon probably isn’t the best choice).
Also check if the name is available for a website, Instagram username, on other social media platforms that you may want one day, and that there aren’t any weird associations with it elsewhere on the internet or in another language. We actually changed our minds about a name when we realized that the way we wanted to punctuate it was already taken on Instagram. We also threw out a name after discovering a shady looking Amazon shop by the same name.
If it’s available for a username or website, grab it! Nothing is worse than deciding you like the name only to later discover that someone beat you to it.
If you make it through the trial period still feeling unsure, it’s probably not the right name. Try going back to Step 2 to see if your criteria is still a good fit based on anything you may have learned during the trial period (see the flow chart below).
If you make it through the trial period liking your name, CONGRATS! You did it! Go and yell that new name from the mountaintops! And then go thank your parents for naming you, because if you’re like us, you’ll realize just how much work and energy it takes to decide on a name!