After we had written the business plan we started to brainstorm company names. Initially, we came up with direct, descriptive, on-target names like “Redmond Executive Offices”, “Redmond Office Space”, and “Redmond Executive Suites” but these names lacked any imagination and were downright boring. I just could not see myself or any other person that we hired coming to work excited about the company and what we do. So we abandoned the direct approach and went with the creative approach to naming our company.
This reminded me of an experience that I had back in 1999 when I was at a Internet startup company funded by Maveron. Maveron is backed by Howard Shultz. The marketing company was the same company that came up with the name Starbucks. The marketing company referred to the creative approach as the “empty vessel” approach to naming a company. I did not participate in that process until the marketing company come up with eight different concepts. The marketing company presented the ideas on black poster board with logos and names. Most of the names were not real words, but a combination of two words or parts of words. Going through that experience helped provide with a reference point on how I might approach this. During my naming research, I ran across a very good blog article from “The Name Inspector” which states: “Forget that “empty vessel” stuff–most good names are not empty vessels, they’re just indirect”.
While going through the indirect process, I was thinking about words that could represent office space without using the words “executive offices” or “executive suites”. I wanted the name to represent our commitment to sustainability without using the trendy words like “eco” or “green” pre-pended to another word. I also wanted a word that works with our coworking space, which to me is really each person’s “think space”. Lastly, I wanted something that could represent “virtual office” without using those words. That is when the name “thinkspace” came into my head. I immediately knew that this was it. I liked the fact that it was short, memorable, easy to spell, and limitless. I also liked the fact that when I tell people my email address I don’t have to spell the word out. Some domain names are so hard to spell it’s hard for people to write it down correctly. When I read a definition of the word space it stated: “The unlimited expanse in which all things exist”. I thought that was a pretty cool tie in to our company and what we’re trying to achieve.
As a sanity check, I bounced the name “thinkspace” off my brother Steve and sister Leaming. Steve immediately said he liked it too. He said “I like it because of what you are doing with the carbon neutral stuff, it is encouraging people to think outside the box, their work environment and the environment around them”. I appreciate my wife, Steve, and Leaming for contributing with the brainstorming process and being a sounding board.
The image at the top of this post was taken from Visual Thesaurus. I’m amazed at how engaging this tool is and how much fun it is to learn about words.