What’s in a name?

That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet…”

So here it is – my brand name launch… welcome to humblebee!

Why, I hear you whisper? As soon as I told my children I was going to stop working for Arup (“mummy, that means you’re free!”… heart strings properly tugged), and that I was setting up my own business they started plotting my name and logo. They decided I should be called Absolute Eco (“absolute” so I would be in the “A”s!). And that is how I have now formally registered my company.

But after a creative and constructive conversation with my very talented brother in law (@Julio Taylor), we decided to start with values and meaning and build on those.

Now this wasn’t as easy as it sounds… where was I going to start? What was going to pop into my head and then stick?? It didn’t quite work like that… After much brainstorming with my family members on holiday, googling and checking out existing brand and domain names to rule out, I came across an article which stated that humblebee was in fact the old name for the bumblebee, and out of a long list of epithets and animal names that I’d written down, humble and bee happened to be among them. It seemed to capture a number of things I hold dear: nature and the amazing collaborative work ethic of bees, their endangerment at the moment, a nod to my location (the Manchester worker bee symbol), a respect of the environment and a treading lightly on the earth, spreading the word about low impact building while doing something useful. Bumblebees are slightly more solitary than honey bees too – that’s my impression anyway – which reflects my more introspected nature.

I had been through a few ideas: I liked words that evoked some sort of “tipping point” – because as the latest IPCC report suggests, we really are at a critical stage when it comes to climate change, and our solutions need to be more radical not less. Names like “38 Degrees, the angle at which snowflakes come together to form an avalanche”. And I was reminded recently about the “30% club”, the target for women on boards, because that’s when critical mass is reached, the point at which a minority stops behaving like one.

Kaleidoscope was a favourite for a while, from the Greek “kalos”, beautiful, “eidos” form and “scope”, so literally “observer of beautiful forms”. I liked that image relating to beautiful architecture and also how when you look through a kaleidoscope and turn it round, there’s always a moment of chaos and then a magical “tipping point” when a coherent, multicoloured and faceted pattern appears. A great analogy for the messy process of design and then finding that perfect balance from all the different shapes and colours. It turns out it’s already a fashion label and an ethics consultancy (I wasn’t far off then).

While I was on the thought train of patterns, I tried looking into the wonders of nature, of fractals and biomimicry. There was a lot in the press about “snowflakes” used to describe a weak and unenterprising generation. I had thought about re-appropriating the word “snowflake”. Rather a snowflake is unique, awe-inspiring in its simplicity and weightlessness, falling softly on the earth’s surface. The polar bear – surrounded by diminishing ice and snow – being a reluctant symbol of climate change, it felt like there was a link there. The word was bravely reframed in this Democrat Facebook post, which I love: 

But it still wasn’t quite right and had already been used… a lot.

So I looked to animals that do amazing things in terms of building their shelters, living as communities that help each other. “Termite”, though impressive in its industry, doesn’t quite project the image I was going for. But the Sociable Weaver, on the other hand, is an African bird that builds fascinating nests, hanging warrens of spaces with warmer spaces (or cooler ones depending on season) on the inside, for egg laying and chick hatching, surrounded by buffer zones, refuges and granny flats ensuring generations of birds living together. Apart from the fact the name was already taken by an Australian sustainable architecture firm (again I was on the right track with my thinking), I felt it didn’t reflect my location and would have required more effort from my target audience.

“Green Bee” was one I really liked too. I found out that such a creature existed, but that it liked to sit on poo. Again, not necessarily what I wanted to be associated with!

And so here we are. Julio found the .eco domain name for me so I grabbed it – with that purchase came pledges around positive contributions to the world we live in. So it makes me and my enterprise accountable too. Brilliant.

So what’s in a name? It turns out quite a lot. Hope you like it!

Picture credit: my logo, designed by the lovely Leila Lufti

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