Choose Interesting Work

Creative people sometimes bemoan not having caught a break; or, they blame their circumstances for the lacklustre assignments they’re tasked with. I think such arguments are weak at best. For the most part, our lives are a product of our own devisal, and the choices we make define our realities.

Do you take the new job, or stick with the old one? Do you stay at the growing agency, or start your own studio? Do you accept a high-paying assignment, or put time into a side-project you are unable to get out of your head? Each of these sorts of choices can be contemplated in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, when considered for long enough, they can also become paralyzing.

I’ve faced a number of these sorts of questions over the years, and I continue to. Although I can’t say these choices have gotten easy, I do have some past experiences to reflect upon. From these, I’ve learned that one point seems to matter more than the others. When I use the question, “how interesting will the work be?” to help make the decision, I seem to be rewarded for having done so.

Sure, situational needs can make choosing interesting work less viable. For example, if you have young kids and need to pay bills, your decision might need to be influenced by other factors. However, I think we all too often allow our fears to get in the way of choices that could work out for us eventually.

There are many reasons for choosing interesting work, but the most important ones relate to your long-term prospects. We all start adulthood thinking money is scarce, and time is in limitless supply. This belief is false and proves to be a most vicious trap. Following is an example to illustrate my point.

You start a small studio, and are struggling to bring in new projects. One day, a group calls and offers you an assignment that’s not quite right for your studio, but pays well. Although the project isn’t within your direct area of expertise, you reason that this diversion will only require two months—and at the end of it you’ll have some cash to play with. This is sound logic, but rarely ever plays out as one might like.

This sort of situation is almost always impacted by the way work begets work. Upon completing this project, another group will call, asking you to do something similar for them—followed by another. Although the money at the end of each project will seem to have evaporated, you’ll find yourself accepting these projects—because not doing so would be irresponsible.

Soon enough, you will have become a specialist in an area you’d never even properly considered. Demand will grow, and so will your studio. This is how the rope tightens. You’ll add staff, and as you do, you’ll need more space and equipment—becoming even more reliant on cash flow. This financial need will make you increasingly receptive to projects that aren’t quite right—but you’ll now need. Ultimately, you’ll become a kind of design junkie, taking on any gig you can, just to feed your studio’s growing appetite. You’ll also realize that you’re no longer working as a designer; instead, you’ll have transformed into a manager—of projects, which might not even mean anything to you.

This scenario might seem dreary and fatalistic. I appreciate such sentiments, but must stress how common these situations are for many designers.

Now, let’s play this scenario out somewhat differently. Perhaps, you say no to the “not quite right” job, and instead work on a personal project you think interesting. Maybe this is an information design project of public importance. Or, you might choose to produce some design work for a not-for-profit whose cause you believe in. Alternately, you might find yourself building some kind of an application you feel there’s utility in.

Regardless of the project you choose, you might just find yourself doing your very best design: because you care about the work. Meanwhile, the rule I mentioned before—work begets work—remains valid. If well executed, your efforts will (perhaps not right away, but eventually) attract other like-minded people and clients.

The information design project leads a prestigious magazine to hire you to produce something similar, for their next issue. The not-for-profit you once helped receives a grant, and is able to hire you for paying assignments. Or, the app you built gets picked up by users who are willing to pay for it.

Much like in the earlier scenario, such instances are just the beginning. What you create attracts like matter. Work on a website for a law firm, and you’ll end up working on another. Create a beautiful poster, and someone will ask you to make one for them, too. Alternately, you can do nothing and you’ll likewise attract nothing. See how this whole deal works?

Regardless of what you choose to create, you’ll find yourself busy. (Because everyone is busy.) So, the real question for you is whether you’re going to be busy with work you loathe, or work you love. Both scenarios come with consequences. I know folks who make a lot of dough peddling breath mints and breakfast cereal—which is fine if that floats your boat. My choice is to forsake such work, in favor of that which I deem interesting. This decision means I’ll at times have to skip the occasional pay check or trip to Maui. Again: pros and cons—only you can choose what works for you.

Choosing to do interesting work doesn’t mean you’ll be free of tedious chores. Every job involves some less-than-thrilling parts. That said, if you’re invested in the work you’re doing, the overall experience will be more positive. For example, I wasn’t euphoric while close-cutting images for the new SNAP website; however, I’m so excited about what The Nature Conservancy stands for—and the purpose behind the SNAP initiative—that I was quite fine with a little grunt work. Interesting work can be so because of what the design accomplishes, who the project helps, the opportunities to explore new possibilities, and/or how the work helps you grow.

Should you wish to use “interesting” as a criteria for making decisions, I’ll leave you with a few supporting suggestions. First: Keep your expenses low. Doing so affords you more freedom to say no to projects that might lead you astray. There’s a simple formula at work here: the more money you spend, the more shit you’ll have to deal with.

Second: Don’t grow your studio. Instead, stay as small as you can. The moment you add people to your operation, you start getting pushed away from the work. This will lead you to spend time on business development, determining hiring policies, and all kinds of other tasks, which have little to do with making. (Should you want to grow your studio, you can disregard this point. But, if you’re committed to that dreadful exercise, you should also disregard this entire post.)

Finally: Avoid being tempted by the work of others—because doing so will right mess you up. There are countless interesting paths one can take, and accolades to be achieved in doing so. But, those aren’t for you. You need to cut your own path. Getting distracted by other possibilities will only slow you down. You haven’t won a Clio? Who gives a shit! Can’t afford a shiny Mercedes? Awesome—you can also save yourself the repair bills. Don’t have as fast of a Mac as your friends? Suck it up and use a fucking pencil. Perhaps I sound harsh, but I think such antagonism is warranted here. If you want to do interesting work, you have to concentrate on what you’re doing—not what someone else is.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I’ve been excited about growing a company, and subsequently worked myself right out of the job I loved. (Incidentally, I did, in time, remedy this misstep.) On the other hand, I’ve also made some seemingly impractical—but interesting—choices. In these instances I’ve gone on to find myself getting out of bed every morning, excited to start the day.

Although I can’t guarantee that choosing interesting work will pan out for you, this approach certainly has for me. Were I able to go back to the beginning of my career, I’d make more choices using interesting work as my guide.

One other note: Interesting work rarely pays well, at the outset. However, over a long enough timeline, such work can become lucrative. For example, I bet Matthew Inman made far less money than his friends when he started The Oatmeal; but he seems to be doing OK, now—and is able to spend his days telling stories and producing visuals that delight millions.

Should the same sort of path turn out to be your destiny, you’ll eventually get paid (handsomely) for doing work you enjoy and care about. If you don’t fare quite so well, you’ll still get to do interesting work. I’m of the mind that this is a kinder fate than being stuck in endless meetings—and having to take part in team-building exercises. The life you lead is up to you.

What’s Right In Front of You

On Saturday, I awoke with a premise for a novel knocking around in my head. By the time my bum hit the toilet seat, I was already typing initial thoughts on my iPhone. Breakfast was a blur, as I contemplated what drove the characters I imagined. This engrossed state continued until I arrived at the local arts center. While my kids took part in art classes, I sipped an espresso. Although I don’t write songs, I found myself fooling around with lyrics. Later in the weekend, I toyed with the possibility of a podcast, and a couple of startup ideas arose, too.

I could continue, but you likely get a sense for what I’m trying to convey. Although some want for ideas, my brain seems powerlessly caught in a torrent of them. You might think this abundance to be good, but I’ve come to see this state like an affliction. We give ideas too much credit and I have more of them than I can properly handle. However, what I don’t have enough of, is time to act on all of these ideas. This shortage often leaves me feeling like I’m stuck working on the wrong thing, while better ideas fly by.

It’s not as though my ideas are all good—I doubt that most of them are—but this probability doesn’t minimize my desire to see where these ideas might lead. As I grow older, I better appreciate how much attention an idea needs, in order to be made real. I also know that unless I’m fully invested in that idea, the execution will most likely be quite unexemplary.

I’ve also come to realize that this barrage of ideas can’t be stopped. Ideas will keep coming at me, no matter how I try to focus. If you’ve experienced the same, you might appreciate the need to find a means of coping. Just like we silence some of the stimuli we’re flooded with on a busy street, we need a way to filter all of the incoming ideas. Without some mechanism in place, you’ll bounce frantically from one possibility to the next, without properly acting on anything.

As the ideas will not stop, I need way to divert them. Email folders help me accomplish this task. Whenever I have an idea for a creative project, I send an email to myself that documents the idea. I then store this email in a folder called (wait for it) Ideas. I do the same with ideas I have for articles and books, storing them in a folder called (you guessed it) Writing. Email folders work well for this, as each message can contain a varying amount of detail, and do not require me to organize them in any way: they’re already stored chronologically, and I can run searches on these folders as necessary.

Many of the ideas I contemplate excite me, and some are likely quite viable. That said, the bulk of these ideas are just too big to act upon right now. By sorting them away, I’m able to save these ideas for later. More importantly, I can put these notions out of my head for the time being. I know they’re safely stored, which leaves me able to return to what I’m supposed to be working on.

This is the crux of today’s post: You and I put too much value on what we could be doing, and not quite enough on what we are doing. Creative people are so used to asking “what if,” that they sometimes need to be pulled back to ideas that no longer seem so thrilling. Ideas are like first dates: exciting and fun. But you need to move past just beginnings if you want to achieve anything meaningful. Be honest: I’ll bet the project you’re bored with now seemed pretty exciting at one point—perhaps only a few weeks or months ago.

It’s Monday, and you have a new week in front of you. Today, instead of dreaming about some hypothetical project, or what you could someday do, I want you to concentrate wholly on what you are doing. Maybe you’re tasked with typesetting a boring form, planning a UI like so many others you’ve produced before, or, slogging through an identity project that’s been analyzed to death—and has lost some of its lustre. Regardless of the task, an opportunity for greatness lies right in front of you.

So, own it. Make that boring form more efficient than anyone expects. Push that UI and see how elegant a solution you can produce. Take that weary identity and ask what you’d need to do, to fall in love with this project again. Don’t put off doing so until later in the day. In fact, don’t even wait to get to the end of this post. Just close your browser window, mute any other distractions, and dig in.

Essentially, I’m talking about achieving a state of mindfulness and being present in this very moment. Playing with ideas in your head can be intoxicating, but imagination pales in comparison to seeing your ideas brought to life. To do that, you need to exhibit discipline, put in time, and work through some tedious tasks. Producing work also requires you to put new ideas in a pile for later—at which time you might be able to give them the time and attention they deserve.

Great creative work isn’t about what you dream of making; it’s found in what you actually make happen. And the project you currently don’t feel much love for might turn out to be one of the greatest things you’ve ever created. So, get to work and do the shit out of what’s right in front of you.

How McDonald’s Tricks You With Color

I think about food an awful lot. Over the years I’ve struggled to reduce my weight, and as I get older the necessity to do so seems greater. Although I’ve always disliked my bulging belly, my vanity tends to lose out to my (much stronger) appetite. That said, the very plausible risk of a heart attack, or other major ailment, isn’t so easy to dismiss. As such, I’ve changed a number of my ingrained habits.

So far, the changes have been successful. I sleep more, have reduced stress, exercise frequently, and have modified my diet. The first three points were straightforward, but the fourth has been a more consuming process. As a result, I’ve done some investigation, reading, and learning on the topic.

Fact is, I’ve always eaten quite well (my diet is principally vegetarian). I just consume a little too much. However, as I learn more about food, I’m becoming more aware of how twisted our understanding of it is.

Our associations with food are almost entirely perverted. The food industry is monopolized by a small number of large corporations that have done what corporations are supposed to: maximize shareholder value. Sadly, the way they’ve achieved their successes is by hacking our collective perception of what food is, leaving us to accept “food products” in place of actual food.

There are many examples of how food has been compromised: Optimizing factory farming to the point of becoming a surreal freak-show; Inventing “enemies” that were never there; Co-opting the organic food movement. There’s little in your grocery store you shouldn’t be suspicious of.

What’s most interesting to me in all of this learning, is seeing how these groups use design to help achieve their needs. And although McDonald’s has been kicked plenty, I find difficulty in not using it to argue my point. Just as Apple serves as an undeniable example of brilliant design; McDonald’s is a perfect example of how to engineer misinformation.

Today, I want to hone in on just one of the tools McDonald’s uses in its assault on your nutritional belief system: color. Yes, that which so many deride as frivolous can be a highly effective weapon when placed in the wrong hands.

We believe what we see—more so than most care to admit. This prejudice to visual information isn’t elective; we are hard wired to use what our eyes take in, to help us determine how to act. Is the animal in front of me a threat? Should I seek shelter from a storm that’s moving in? Is the object in my hand safe to eat? These questions, and many others, are first informed by what we see.

Nature knows this, and uses color to code much of what surrounds us, helping us identify safe/nutritious bounty. (Not always the case, but mostly.) For example, nature uses color to tell us when an apple is ripe, and when a banana has gone bad. The psychology of color is a vast and complicated topic; however, when we consider our instinctual leanings, we recognize how alluring bright, rich color is. Our associations with color are attached to subconscious beliefs about flavor, nutritional density, and even whether food is fit for consumption: which is why we put chemicals in our tomato juice to keep it red.

This same information is echoed by many nutritional experts when they encourage healthy diets. They allude to color, recommending that we consume a “rainbow” of foods, using color as a shortcut to identify nutritionally-dense food sources. There are the yellows, oranges, pinks, and bright greens of citrus fruits; the deep reds, blues, and purples of berries; and, those dark greens found in kale and chard, and the like. Color serves as one of nature’s signals for what you should be eating. Increase the number of colorful plants you eat versus processed foods, and you’ll immediately feel better for having done so. (I certainly do.)

McDonald’s has perfected the science of triggering our base appetites. The company imprints positive associations with their brand during our formative years, and utilizes manufactured tastes/flavors that often seem (at least initially) as though they’re better than the real thing. But the way McDonald’s tantalizes us visually is with color. This act is performed at a sensory level that affects us deeply.

So, join me on a brief field trip. Today, at lunch, make your way to a McDonald’s. You might first find yourself drawn in by those welcoming yellow arches, which act as a kind of beacon. Equal recognizable will be that arresting red, which (depending on the vintage of the location) adorns their roofs, supplemental architectural elements, and the new monolith-like logo blocks that seem to be a fixture outside their newer locations.

Inside, you’ll find a space made cozy through grounded cremes, greys, and chocolate tones—sparked with rich hits of maroon, crimson, pumpkin, and avocado. (I should note that I’m referring to the redesigned McDonald’s interiors, which have replaced the more sickly interiors of McDonalds’ past.) On the display menu, and posters, you’ll see deep red and umber gradient backgrounds, which serve as a backdrop for photographs of their food products. As for the food? So very golden!

This same system is found in the packaging that every item at McDonald’s comes wrapped in. Think about that for a moment: most restaurants serve food on a plate. However, at McDonald’s, the food is effectively hidden from sight. Your Big Mac comes in a box adorned with a (not particularly accurate) photograph of a burger, alongside some photos of plants: lettuce, onion, tomato. Your delicious fries come in a bright red box with bits of yellow; and that skinny, tall soda is a white canvas, peppered with hits of color—often clean, refreshing blue tones. There’s more: the other sandwiches, wraps, pies, nuggets, coffee, are never short of color. Even your tray is covered by a colourful printed promotion of some sort. (And don’t get me started on the kids’ Happy Meals and PlayPlace.)

McDonald’s doesn’t employ color accidentally. For all the criticism the organization faces, few would dispute that its people are masters of optimization. Over the past 75 years, McDonald’s has refined its operational mechanics, giving the company a unique and remarkable super-power: the ability to produce an illusion that leads even the most informed to suspend what both our brains and our bodies already know.

For example, I’m well aware of the adverse effects that McDonald’s food products have on my health and the great societal costs of such eating. Moreover, I know that only moments after ingesting one of their “meals,” my body reacts dramatically, leaving me sluggish, dreary, and sickly bloated. That said, just thinking about those fries is enough to make my mouth water—no matter how my body and brain might otherwise protest.

Color alone doesn’t achieve this feat, but it is a powerful tool. Although my body may crave sugar, fat, and salt, none of these are particularly appealing in their natural state. Herein lies the brilliance of McDonald’s formula: their ingredients satiate these cravings, while they use color to appeal to our visual sensibilities. Seen in nature, these same colors indicate a wide variety of tastes, nutrients, and health benefits. McDonald’s hijacks these perceptions and uses them against us.

“But we know better,” you say. “Everyone knows McDonald’s isn’t healthy!” Sure, but knowledge and impulse are two very different drivers—and what we desire typically wins out over what we know.

We’ve reached the conclusion of our little field trip, and you can now stop looking so carefully at what surrounds you. It’s time to eat—and I certainly don’t want to stand in your way. In fact, I’ll help get you started!

First, let’s dispose of some of this junk. I’ll put your tray aside and you can instead use this nice white plate I brought for you. Just remove the burger and fries from their packages and put them here—and you’re all set. Oh, wait, one more thing: here’s a glass for your Coke. Who wants to drink from a tacky paper cup when you can have a nice, cool frosted glass, right?

But before I go, could you do me a small favor? Look again at what’s in front of you. Notice what you’re left with once those wrappers and adornment are cast aside? Yup—mostly just washed-out beige. Mmmm. Yummy.

Just Keep Making

Eddie Van Halen was once asked how he got so good. His response was surprisingly boring—particularly for someone who’s name is synonymous with excess.

He explained that he’d buy a six-pack of Schlitz Malt talls and sit at the edge of his bed with his guitar. At 7:00, his brother would go out to party and get laid. When his brother returned, at 3:00 AM, Eddie was in the same place, still practicing.

He kept doing this (and continues to). That’s why he can play songs like Eruption and make doing so look easy.

We’re bombarded with articles proposing how to get inspired and be creative. I consider this material to be fodder for selling magazines—that makes creative work seem more complicated than need be.

You want the secret to being good? It’s practice.

I’m not saying you need to kill yourself to do good work. I’m not proposing you should sacrifice time with family and friends. I’m not even alluding to the notion of 10,000 hours of practice. I’m only talking about being honest about what it takes to make good work. (BTW: I’m writing this post for me, as much as I’m writing it for you.)

Reading about designers you admire isn’t practice. Updating your portfolio isn’t practice. Hanging around with other creative people isn’t practice. Waiting for inspiration isn’t practice. Posting crap on social media isn’t practice.

Nope. The only way to get good (or great) is to actually do.

The nice part about doing, is how your actions can silence doubts that would otherwise slow you down. Even better yet, it’s practice—which means you can screw up. In fact, you’re supposed to screw up. If you aren’t making mistakes, it’s probably not practice.

We all get distracted, and no wonder. We face more distractions than anyone ever has. So, I’m making a little poster to put beside my desk. It contains three words: Just Keep Making.

I have long lists of tasks needing to be completed. I have emails that never seem to let up. And, like anyone else, I have questions, concerns, and doubts.

This is why I like this simple mantra. It’s a reminder that when I build, all the noise fades. When this happens, I can achieve the strange—and wonderful—high that comes from making.

The Perils of Naming Your Company

Not long ago, the people at 53 were upset with Facebook, for having named their new product Paper. You’ll likely appreciate their frustration. The people at 53 had built a nice drawing application for the iPad, and the behemoth’s use of the same word presented a risk of confusion for the smaller entity. Nevertheless, the problem was one of 53’s devisal, and hardly something they should blame on the social media giant.

We’ve done our share of naming at smashLAB, and I consider these projects among my least favorite. The reason for my aversion to naming is in how difficult objectivity is to maintain during such processes. Naming an entity tends to become emotional, and draws out many opinions. These biases make comparison and analysis difficult. Names that seem good at first might feel so because they are familiar; whereas, less known ones almost always seem somehow wrong—and are therefore passed over, even when they could prove viable.

Most names live on a spectrum of sorts. At one end are those based on existing words, at the other are ones with little inherent meaning, and in the middle you find mash-ups that play on existing words. Every part of this spectrum contains types of names that present their own benefits and challenges. What you need to determine in naming your organization, is which trade-offs you’re willing to make—and live with for the lifespan of your company.

Most people tasked with naming an entity tend to gravitate toward choosing names that are based on existing words. I think they do so as these names seem easier to say without feeling silly. Everyone already knows how to pronounce words like Shell, Caterpillar, Amazon, Oracle, and Gap—allowing these names to be immediately agreeable. Additionally, these words have existing associations, which makes them seem more evocative and powerful. As such, proposing a name like Spectacle for an events company would likely go over well with those involved. Unfortunately, such a name would also have limitations.

Using a word for an organization’s name is risky, as such monikers are often in use by other entities. This competition makes domain names difficult to acquire, and opens up the possibility of the company being confused with another. A quick fix to such a challenge is to append some kind of descriptor to the name (i.e. Spectacle becomes Spectacle Events); however, this add-on can limit the brand from expansion, should the company move into other areas. This approach can also anchor the name in the past, as descriptors tend to change with time. Ten years ago, there were lots of web design companies that used “Interactive” to describe their work, but this term has become quite antiquated seeming since then.

Worst yet, choosing a word for your name puts you in the dubious spot of being vulnerable to a larger group effectively taking your name from you—as might happen to 53 and their app. Given Facebook’s history of launching and rapidly shuttering experiments, their Paper might go away as quickly as it came; however, if they do gain traction with this app, they’ll own the name Paper, due to their size. This would leave 53 staff explaining to others, ad infinitum, “no, not that Paper.”

The somewhat more defensible approach of merging two common words tends to be popular amongst startups. This choice probably isn’t deliberate, but rather, a reaction to how few domain names are available. These names are somewhat invented, but use existing words, therefore leveraging existing associations, and (sometimes) making spelling easier. You can likely think of many groups using such names; the ones come to mind for me include Dropbox, Snapchat, and Coinbase. The nice part with these sorts of names is that users almost instantly “get” what these companies do. However, this literal approach can also prove a limitation, as these names get rooted in their existing meanings, and therefore are harder to build new associations around. (For example, should Dropbox start a content division, the company may need to create a more appropriately named sub-brand.)

We see many portmanteaus in use amongst iconic brands, as these names are more suited to building a unique set of associations around. A portmanteau combines two or more words into a single name—and typically removes some of each word to simplify the name. You’ve seen portmanteaus in use in names like Groupon (Group + Coupon), Rolodex (Rolling + Index), and Pinterest (Pin + Interest). These names all become unique creations, and therefore are more flexible and defensible. Similarly, securing a domain name and social media handles, is often easier with such names. That said, these sorts of names often die early in the process, as they just “seem weird.”

Another approach similar to the use of portmanteaus is strategic misspelling, as we see in names like Netflix, Codecademy, and Dribbble. Such misspellings can be difficult because they need continued explanation, until they’ve become household names. You know how to spell Netflix, because you’ve seen the name hundreds of times. That said, even I thought Codecademy was spelled Codeacademy until I double-checked. The takeaway: if you choose to use strategic misspelling in your company’s name, you’d best be confident you’ll eventually become as commonplace as Febreze.

Look at the world’s most recognized brands, and you find many variations on invented names. There’s Sephora (the Greek word for beauty, “sephos,” and the name Zipporah), Intel (a portmanteau of Integrated Electronics), Pepsi (inspired by the pepsin nuts in the recipe), Kleenex (the word clean, plus characteristics of the name Kotex) and so on. These names are amongst the most defensible, due to how unique they are. That said, at the outset, they were likely not met with great approval, given how few instant associations we have with them. Invented names like these start out as empty vessels—this lack of immediate association might seem frightening, but the advantage is that you can fill them with whatever you’d like.

This same “empty vessel” argument can be made for brands that utilize family names and acronyms (although acronym-based names are less defensible). The names Disney, McDonalds, Kellogg’s, Colgate, and Louis Vuitton were at one point just as unremarkable as Smith, Brown, Lee, Wilson, or Martin. The name didn’t make the brand; the brand made the name. Again, acronym based names like LG, H&M, and BMW also benefit from a kind of clean slate, which anything can be built upon. (So long as the “shape” of the letters/elements are suitable, but I’ll talk about that in a future post.) For those aimed at building a long-standing organization, an empty vessel might be all that’s needed. So, a fashion label would be well suited to such an approach; whereas, a tech company looking to grow quickly and get acquired probably isn’t.

Most looking to name a company are in search of the “perfect” name, but I’ve found such magical finds are rarely ever made. Instead, you need to figure out what you need your name to do, and then step back enough to think about the big picture, and ultimately settle for something that works. As time passes, and familiarity grows, your choice will likely become increasingly normal seeming.

Naming is a serious—and sometimes dangerous—task that’s often undertaken overly casually. First-timers tend to pay little attention to the potential obstacles presented by the names they chose. Most reason that a name change can easily be made in the future, should such a rethink prove necessary. To the contrary, the moment a name is put in use, the organization starts to pay into this one moniker. Should the name be discarded, they’re forced to abandon that investment. (This says little of the price of redesigning collateral, erecting new signage, and all the other costs associated with renaming an entity.)

Although this post certainly doesn’t cover all there is to naming an organization (I don’t know how one article possibly could), it should help illustrate how a spectrum of name types exists. I also hope that you have a better sense for the pros and cons that each grouping comes with. In a future post, I’ll discuss how to establish a criteria when naming an entity, and how doing so can introduce some much needed objectivity into an otherwise nebulous—and sometimes maddening—process.