Sep 8, 2006

Shop Talk Volume 2

What's in a name? This posting is for those boutique owner-wanna-be's who are wanting to open a store and have no idea where to begin...well, in my last posting I talked about passion. And how that is so very necessary when beginning to think about starting a business.

So, if you are reading this posting, then you probably have learned that your passion is strong enough to seriously start thinking about owning a shop. Most of us shop owners all begin our venture by deciding on a name of our business.

Sort of like having a baby. Parents-to-be almost immediately start thinking of names for their unborn child before the mother even begins to show any signs of pregnancy. The same with your little shop-to-be. The name usually comes first with most of us. However, the name should really, really be considered carefully for many reasons. Business reasons - not sentimental.

First, think about what your shop is going to be like. If you had to describe your shop in only one sentence to someone who never has seen it, what would that sentence be? Now, the name you are considering...does that name fit the description you just provided in one sentence? For instance, if you just love the name "Attic Treasures" but the one sentence description of your shop is something like: "An elegant, soothing shop that carries vintage items for the home, and organic items for the body, and soul." Well, it is easy to see that the name just doesn't fit what the shop owner is hoping to provide to the customer. With the name like "Attic Treasures" one would expect a shop filled with antiques, maybe some "junk" and great bargains. Absolutely nothing wrong with that type of shop - in fact I love those shops, but the point I am trying to make is a name can tell a different story than what you intended.

I chose "Elizabeth House" for many reasons. When I first started my antique business in Texas, my business name was "Picket Fences." It suited what I was doing at that time. I was doing more country, rustic items, and more American antiques than anything else. Over the years as my tastes changed, and I developed into what is now my signature style, the name "Picket Fences" no longer fit. "Elizabeth House" has a sense or a feeling of elegance with plenty of ambiguity, which I love. I my thought process was that over the years, since my styled changed from rustic to elegance....who is to say that my style in years to come will yet evolve into something else? If so, "Elizabeth House" is a name that doesn't lock me into niche that I may not want to be locked allows me to grow and develop as I choose. "English Tea Shoppe" would pretty much need to be a tea shop. The name doesn't allow it to be bar-be-que joint, a flower shop, or even a candy store. It pretty much needs to be a tea shop. Again, that is pefectly fine. I just know myself. I know I like change and I know I like to develop but I wanted my business name to allow me to do this.

Next, how does the name sound? Yes, sound. Is it easy to prounounce? Is it confusing? I have a friend who was going to name her baby shop "Baby Biggs." The name of her beloved dog. She even had a cute little logo of her dog in a diaper. However, on her store voice mail, it sounded like she was saying "Baby Pigs." She found herself constantly repeating the name of her store when someone would ask the name because they thought she said, "Baby Pigs." She quickly changed the name "Baby Baby." (She has since had a baby and closed her shop to be a full time mom.)

Okay, so the name you chose fits the description of your store and it also sounds great. Now, next, how common is it? You need to google on the internet the name of your store. What comes up? Thousands of like names? Is there even a domain available for your name? Even if you aren't planning on a website right away, get the domain way before you even decide on the name. Research and research more how the name of your shop comes up when googled. It can really put new light on the name that you may not have considered.

Okay, you now secured the need to think of the logo. REALLY, REALLY take your time and think about this! What kind of font will you use? What colors? What symbol? How does the logo/name read on letterhead, in newspaper ads, in the phone book, on the website, on business cards, on the shop window, the awning, on postcards? Is it easy to reproduce? How will it look on labels, bags, ribbon, and tissue paper? Will commercial printers be able to print it as is, or will they need to convert it to a JPEG? Are there ways to have several versions for different uses? I have several versions of "Elizabeth House." I have the very recognizable and notable "EH" that is on every single thing. I have "EH" carved on my store counter, etched on my store's front doors, on aged paper (as in the photo above) and on my store tags as well. I have a version with a body form behind it, one with the website below it and others. But they all have the same color, font, and sizes. This is what we call your "corporate identity."

Once you have your corporate NOT, do NOT, do NOT mess around with it, change it, or just scrap it and start all over. If you have a logo/name that you have been using and people recognize it, then you have equity built into it. I have seen many, many shop owners fool around with their logo, adding this, taking away that, changing the color...and every time you do that, you lose equity. That is the reason to really take time, thought, and lots of effort in designing the right name to begin with. Yes, you may end up refining it after time, but you should, at all cost, avoid major changes. So, take your time, and do it right the first time....before you register it with your state.

Finally, after you think you got it exactly how you want it to others. Ask for their opinion. Get feedback. This is not a decision by committee, but rather, just listen to what they have to say and then decide for yourself what to do with the feedback. Remember, this is your shop, your time, your have the say in its name and no one else. But it is smart to get feedback.

I hope this helps you really think about the importance of the right name, the right logo, the right feel you want for your "baby." Because, believe me, owning a shop is like having a baby. It requires constant care. Give the name of your store the same amount of thought as you would naming your own child. They both are precious. They both bring you pleasure. They both cause you debt. They both cause worry, stress, and sleepless nights. And if raised well, they both can provide many years of adventures, laughter, challenges, and wonderful memories.

Oh, and the one advantage to "raising a store"? No dirty diapers.

from my house to your house,



Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I am glad I found you. I really love your style so much. It has given me a bunch of inspiration to start making things in my home look the way I want them. I will probably look at your pictures no more than a bazillion times! :)


Anonymous said...

Same here, love your site...I had to send my cousin who lives there in to scope out the store for me...she had a fit! I think your EH font is really wonderful and so cute branded on the chest of that dress form! I stay mad at myself over changing my style but it sounds as if I'm not alone. I guess that keeps things interesting at home. Thanks! Keep it all up. We are watching.


The Midwest Cottage said...

I have been searching for a local inspiration for so long-I have finally found you! My name is also Elizabeth but I usually go by Liz. I am your newest follower. I have been ready your blog for about an hour now. I'd love to meet you sometime. Thank your for sharing all this wonderful information! -Liz, The Midwest Cottage

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Liz!

So glad you found me! Yes, we will meet. I am always happy to meet new people and see their work. Email me at the address found on my main blog. I look forward to hearing from you :-)

Big hug

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