Why Middle Name?

The question on everyone’s lips.

Well, maybe not, but perhaps it’s worth explaining and giving a short insight into the naming process all the same. First off, I’m afraid it isn’t alluding to an interesting or embarrassing middle name, as I (founder, Oliver Shilling) don’t actually have one.

As part of branding, naming is a slight anomaly for us to deal with. It uniquely tests our creativity and although making the name look nice is important, there’s no doubt it needs to work without visual context too.

It has to sound nice, feel nice when it’s being spoken, and look nice (whatever typeface is used!). There are also a few functional hurdles to jump — is it unique and ownable, is it available across the domains and social media handles you’ll use?

Beyond all of that, it also helps if the name has a meaning to you and your customers – though this is by no means essential. Although some design businesses have more literal names (ahem…DesignStudio), many more go in a more abstract and ownable direction with subtler nods to their approach or specialism (Koto, Ragged Edge).

However long you spend thinking about it, your name will always assume a meaning depending on how it’s used and what it’s used for. As it becomes more closely associated with the brand as a whole, that could be completely different from its intended interpretation. Pantone has become so synonymous with colour expertise, you may not have stopped to think about the meaning behind their name, with ‘Pan’ presumably meaning ‘all’ and ‘tone’ representing tones of colour.

For Middle Name, we wanted the name to look, sound and feel nice, but we also wanted the name to represent our approach to branding, even if it was a hidden meaning that wasn’t immediately apparent. And so, we played on the saying ‘it’s our middle name’. We believe a strong brand is about defining and visualising the essence of what your business represents and stands for. More literally, your middle name is an important, but often unspoken, part of your identity.

How we got here is a story for another article, but safe to say there were several ideas on the table and Middle Name ticked the most boxes and felt the strongest representation of what we want to become as a branding and design studio. 

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