Business Names & Branding: What Is The Story?

Business Names & Branding: What Is The Story?

Blended Careers & How That Helped Us Name Our Business

business name and the story behind it

As web developers, educating clients about what we do comes with the territory and questions are never at a shortage. They’re part of our daily routine and we love them. We welcome and encourage curiosity because when a question arises, it indicates a desire to learn. And a chance to talk.

There is one question that has come up more than any other single question in the history of Fat Eyes Web Development:

Us:   We smile, chuckle and settle in for some storytelling. (this is a question we enjoy)

Some questions are singular, unique, creative and may even be surprising. Or slightly displacing. Occasionally, there’s a question that’s a challenge and requires research; learning something new. And of course, there are those that come up over and over again so our responses pop out a little more easily due to repetition. We do have tried-and-true approaches to presenting answers for the sometimes perplexing, confusing or difficult bits of information we have to impart. But we try to avoid formulaic answers and care very much about being sensitive to who it is that’s asking the question and their communication style so that how we answer will be effective.

And Then There Are The Questions That Dive Us Into Our Origins…

…like the name of our company.

How do those of us in business arrive at perfectly matched business names? Such an integral element of our identity and one not to be taken lightly. It’s something we will hopefully be using for a long time. Our branding depends on it. It has to be just right.

Some things exist just for the fun of it. They may seem like they have a certain depth and mystery, but then you discover that they don’t. They fool us. Or, on the converse side, perhaps they have even more meaning than you thought. Or layered meanings. There could even be a tiny, lossy risk to finding out. Because what if they are imbued with a delicate mystique and then once you learn more the mystique becomes tainted and that deflects your interest or its impact? That could be disappointing. Ah. We will never know ….until we ask.

Artists And Web Development

We both, my husband:business partner, Doug Anderson and I (the nucleus of Fat Eyes), were visual artists before coming to digital media and web development and that has had a huge impact and influence on our company. It has, in many ways, been the underlying foundation of all our work with our clients. Part of that is because we’ve been honing our visual craft for decades so we are skilled at visual communication which obviously comes in handy to say the least. But it goes much deeper than that in this business.

Alchemy:
~ a power or process of transforming something common into something special
~ a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way
[Merriam-Webster]

There Is A Solid Connection Here

Web development uses technology as a tool for communication and marketing. Art-making develops its own technology depending on the method and materials. But both art and marketing have, as their “base metal”, something that wants to be communicated. Through a process that we can consider a type of alchemy, something new is created and that something communicates a message. A message built with a configuration of parts. That description can extend to an artist transmuting their efforts to a focus on web development. There’s an alchemy in that. And it’s no coincidence that transmutation is exactly what happens in alchemy. Layered meaning. Semantic meanderings.

Learning The Art Of Communication: By Being Artists

As young artists (and then as more mature artists) we were devoted (and devoted all of our time) to making objects. Mainly paintings. Starting out, we thought it was all about the pictures themselves but it quickly became clear that the paintings were just the beginning. Or the middle. Or something other than the end, at any rate.

Because art-making is communication, a catalyst for questioning and discussion. And although the majority of our time was spent in the studio making stuff, and the quality of the finished product mattered tremendously, there were crucial parts on either side of that and injected into the middle of that that had as much impact on our careers as any of the juicy, messy, thoughtful, colorful time we spent producing those objects or the objects themselves. They, alone, weren’t enough.

We had ideas. We executed them. It wasn’t unusual to spend a lot of time researching, finding resources and materials that would be included or referenced in our work. We read a lot, we hung out with the work of other artists, and with other artists, we were always involved in somewhat intense discourse with those other artists and the writers, curators, dealers, collectors we were surrounded by.

The unanticipated portion of the experience (and the lifestyle) was what I somewhat ironically call “defending” the work. Really, it was just being able to speak about it, write about it in an intelligent way but it felt like defending. It was on us to know precisely what it was we were doing, what the intent of the work was, what we were hoping to communicate and why, where the ideas came from, the reasons they were important to us, even the questions we were asking via our art. It was never enough to quietly make the work or stay isolated in the studio. There was that bigger, more comprehensive package that was expected of us. We had to be super smart. We had to be philosophers. Activists. Steadfast. Persistent and almost painfully dedicated, single-minded and relentless.

We had to be sharply intentional about what we were doing and producing.

It simply was a basic requirement that, as artists, we had to be able not only to make good work but to be able to communicate clearly about it. Much of our training in art school centered around that and as students we not only spoke about our own efforts but we had to learn how to draw out our fellow students and speak to them about their intentions and work. It was our collective responsibility, a co-creation of sorts to help each other determine what was functioning well (working) and what wasn’t (not-working, not supporting the intent). That continued as we transitioned into becoming professional artists and later, marketing professionals via web design. And in the middle distance there somewhere, I was also the Director of a contemporary art gallery in Boston for a number of years promoting young, unestablished artists and working very closely with them on all of this while also writing about and promoting their work.

Every Painting Has A Name Even If It’s Just “Untitled”

One thing that always needed to happen before paintings left the studio for a show was that they needed to be named. Titling was part of the process. “Untitled” was a viable option but it felt empty and was only employed as a last resort. Thing is, coming up with names wasn’t always easy so we got in the habit of keeping running lists of possible titles as a regular practice that might be matched with a piece at some point. Homeless titles.

So What About Fat Eyes?

When it came time to name our new company back in 1998 we weren’t sure what direction we wanted to go. But we knew that whatever name we came up with it had to be natural to who we are and where we came from. We didn’t want an impersonal, meaningless, overly business-y name. We wanted genuine, fun and lasting; something easy to remember.

This was many years into a very long break from making art using physical ingredients and traditional (or even non-traditional) materials. We’d spent those years learning visual digital media of all kinds and doing various creative projects with my brother who was a film composer striking out in new directions. And we had moved to California from New England downsizing from a massive live/work space into a relatively small home so our studios had long since been packed up and stored away.

It came as a surprise when Doug mentioned that he still had some of his old painting title lists and we took a look to see if there was anything worth considering. So we opened up that list with happy anticipation imagining there would be some perfect treasure waiting.

I think it took all of ten minutes to decide on Fat Eyes. We were sold almost instantly. And although we were pretty naive at the time about naming a business, and the first printer I went to for our business cards warned me that what we had chosen would fail because we weren’t selling eye glasses, we seem to have landed on a perfect name.

Over time, through contacts, clients and our community at large, we’ve learned that it’s memorable, easy to remember and sparks fun conversation with some good laughs. We liked it because it related to eye candy, to seeing and seeing with wide open possibility. We liked that it is almost nonsensical. I personally liked it also for the fact that eyes are one of the few body parts that can’t gain weight. (girls)

Regardless of all that it was much better than……..

…. LoversWillContrastTheirEmotionsInTimesOfCrisis.com

OR

…. ISeldomEmployHistrionicsExceptAsATestOfOthersReactions.com

OR
~ Can’t.com or
~ HugeEverGrowingPulsatingBrainAtTheCenterOfTheUniverse.com or
~ EveryTimeYouChangeWeChange.com or
~ ThatMorningAfterHavingMadeSomeObservations.com or
~ WorriedMan.com or

well, you get the idea.

And there you have it. We are who we are and we feel our name says it just right.

Why Did You Choose That Name For Your Business? Here are some things to consider when choosing a name.

Thank you to Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales and SEOWiSE EBN for getting me to reminisce in this Glass In The Class video where we talk about art and web development, communication and relationships.

Thank you to Mike Allton for the inspiration to tell this story about Fat Eyes Web Development.


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Pre-remixed Egg image from iStockPhoto, the rest: Gina Fiedel

  • author's avatar

    By: Gina Fiedel

    Gina Fiedel is the co-founder/owner of Fat Eyes Web Development. After a successful career as an artist and transitioning into electronic media in the early 90’s, she then founded Fat Eyes in 1998 to bring those skills to the web with her husband, Doug Anderson. Being engaged in business has created gratifying opportunities for communication and new inroads towards making a contribution that counts. You can learn more about Gina on the Fat Eyes Who Are We? page and Gina Fiedel Story.

  • author's avatar

1 reply
  1. Frank Gainsford
    Frank Gainsford says:

    Way back in 2 000 I started a marketing business to market the tourism opportunities along the elephant Coast of KZN South Africa, and naming the company was as you say quite a big issues, as it needed to be able to grow should the idea take off and expand.

    the web site developed for this marketing project was called mtuba4u.co.za, and we nearly chose that as a company name, but my older sister hinted at the expansion possibility and suggested that we use the company name of *INFO4U* which stuck in my mind as being the right name to choose.

    I still use the name INFO4U but the original venture failed miserably and caused me to go bankrupt, because I was stupid, and worried too much about fishing and never kept my eye on the business issues.

    The real issue was legislation that the South African Government introduced to control motor vehicle access to the Elephant Coast Beaches which had a very negative impact on the Elephant Coast tourism industry, where more than 20 000 people lost their jobs when the domestic tourism market along the entire coastal regions of South Africa took a serious nose dive, as the rural areas suddenly became inaccessible by motor vehicle, and the public perceived this legislation as being a gross hindrance and stayed away in their numbers.

    These beautiful unspoilt beaches are now unvisited and the tourism industry along the South African Coastal regions is still in a very big mess. I have since changed my business direction, but never fully recovered.

    Reply

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