When I first started my Etsy shop a few years ago, I definitely had a hard time deciding what to call it. I am an over thinker sometimes and I am very future oriented, so choosing a name felt very serious for me. At the time I wasn't sure if I wanted to start my shop just as a hobby or whether I wanted to eventually start my own business. I didn't know if I wanted to keep my work just on Etsy or if I would want to expand to something bigger in the future. I didn't know if I wanted to focus on illustrated goods (I have my B.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis in Illustration) or if I wanted to sew things for my shop, or make jewelry or what. The problem is that I like making lots of things so choosing a name for a shop that felt so open ended kind of stressed me out.
While I was dreaming of starting an Etsy shop in 2009, I was WAY more into vintage, whimsical and kitschy stuff than I am now. By 2010 I was SO over kitschy things, so over trying to dress "cute" when I've always looked more grown up because of my tall stature, and really over wearing colorful vintage dresses with colorful tights and vintage hats. Something I've always known about myself is that I love change so I can bet that what I am into right now will most likely morph into something very different in a few years. And because I know I like change, I really don't like labeling myself in the present. That of course leads to my point: I had an impossible time coming up with a name for my shop. In 2009 I might have named my shop something cutsey while now if i was choosing a new name it might be something more edgy.
Thankfully, I've already been through this process of choosing a name. Did you know I chose my own name when I was 9? Yep, I picked the name Moorea when my parents were deciding upon a name for my youngest sister. I remember the moment my dad said, "Ashley, we are thinking of naming your little sister Isabella Moorea." And in that second I knew, THAT is my name. Though I was a very very shy little girl having just moved to the U.S. from England the year before and totally freaked out by American culture, I managed to get everyone at my new school to start calling me Moorea, well everyone except my P.E. teacher who called me Ash all through middle school and junior high, oof. Thankfully, I had a very sweet teacher in 4th grade, think Ms Honey from Mathilda, and she was kind enough to let me be myself, taking on a new name and finally finding solidity in who I am and was. I never even once regretted changing my name. Ashley never felt like me and I honestly can't remember how it feels to be called Ashley. My youngest sister who is 17 has only known me as Moorea and everyone in my family calls my old name the A Word.
When I finally just decided to use my name for my brand, it all made sense. When I gave myself the name Moorea at age 9, I finally felt free to be exactly myself, interested in many things, a free spirit, shy but intense, strong but gentle, cautious but inquisitive. The name Ashley made me feel trapped in everyone elses' idea of what an Ashley is, remember The Ashleys in the cartoon Recess? Remember the character Spinelli whose real name was actually Ashley but she chose to go by another name because she felt too boxed in by Ashley? That was me. I needed freedom from one name to find freedom IN another. I've only met one other Moorea and I've never met anyone with my last name Seal so really it just made sense for me to use my own name for my brand if only because it is really unique.
But beyond the fact that my name is unique, I wanted to use it for my brand because my name feels so much more powerful to me than just being a name. It doesn't feel like a label like Ashley did. My name gives me freedom to use it to brand anything that I do or anything I make. I can be a graphic designer and use my name for my brand and I can make jewelry and use my name for my brand and it is all connected. My name isn't a trend, it is strange enough that it doesn't have any pre-existing associations with design or style, it is a set of words that allows me to morph over time and expand whatever products I make under that title. It's my name and it feels personal and I want to always maintain that personal connection to what I create. I want to always be proud of my work and if I'm sticking my own name on it, I better like it. I can't just slap a trendy name on a product and then scrap that name and product once I move onto a new style. Moorea is my name and my brand, it's all truly and honestly me and I'm committed to my name and my evolving expression of self.
1. Is the brand name associated with a current trend, and will that box you in if you ever want to change up your style?
2. Is the name your thinking of using already trademarked?
3. Does someone else already have a website for the name you want to use for your brand? Look it up!
4. Research brand names that are very very similar to yours. Would those be bad sites for your customers to stumble upon accidentally? (For example, I've looked for a shoe company before and accidentally stumbled upon a porn site with a really similar name. Yikes! That's pretty bad.)
5. What sort of feeling does your brand name evoke? Is that a vibe that feels deeply true to you?
6. Would it benefit you to use your real name vs a made up name for your brand? (If you are a graphic designer or anyone focusing more on having a portfolio rather than a shop, I highly recommend sticking with your real name rather than a quirky made up brand name.)
7. Does your brand name give your brand room to grow and expand? (For example, at first I named shop Moorea Seal Illustration. But soon after I realized I needed to just call my shop Moorea Seal so I could have the freedom to make whatever products I wanted. I now use Moorea Seal & Moorea Seal Jewelry and if I make anything else specific like shoes, I can just call them Moorea Seal Shoes.)
8. Are you interested in using your brand name for everything you create like I do, or do you want to create different names for separate shops like Laura does for her shops Roots & Feathers, Violet Bella, and Skyline Fever? If you are interested in creating separate shops for different types and styles of products, this is a great way to use different brand names to allow freedom to expand. I instead have the arch of Moorea Seal with different styles and types of products and services underneath that brand name.
For those of you who do have your own brands, how did you choose your brand name?
I'd love to hear your stories!