What's in a name?

Wendy Lundgaard
Friday, September 18, 2015
Win-Win Workplace Strategies

One of the most exciting and challenging things to do when starting up a new, small business is settling on a name for that business. I was reminded recently just how formidable a challenge this is when asked to assist someone close to me who was doing just that.

On one hand we look for a business name that reflects the services being offered. And yet there is also a need to convey something deeper - a message that provides a potential client with insight into what you stand for and how you plan to operate. Almost like your own personal and professional values statement or 'brand' for the business. The challenge became one of combining these key elements into something coherent and meaningful. And of course let's not forget the perplexing array of fonts, styles and colours to further support the 'brand'.

So for me some nine years on from founding this business (it's hard to believe - where has the time gone!) it's a chance to reflect on whether the initial 'brand' ideas back in 2006 have endured. I find myself asking some searching questions:

  • The What: Does the business name still reflect what I offer to my longstanding and potential clients?
  • The How: How well have I lived up to the intent of developing 'win-win' strategies at the workplace level (e.g. employees, leaders, business owners)?
  • Is the brand imagery recognisable and memorable in, let's face it, a crowded market of consultants?

Neuroscience tells us our brain is hard wired to seek out confirming evidence - it is one of many biases we deploy. I might readily conclude therefore that as I am still in business it must be YES to all these questions. The temptation is to sit back comfortably and not challenge these assumptions.

However Neuroscience also points out that our decision making is regularly flawed. We now know that the brain seeks to conserve energy by making patterns and generally not taking on too much actual 'thinking' unless we have to!  This prompts me to seek out  'disconfirming' evidence in order to improve my decision making.  This might mean asking people for their opinions rather than assume I know their views. How often do we actively do this in work teams and forums where decisions are made?

It got me wondering how I could move beyond assumptions to actual evidence. So I decided to put the question in a blog as a bit of an experiment.

With that in mind I invite all readers to spend a moment answering a couple of questions that would really assist me:

  • What services would you expect from a business called 'Win-Win Workplace Strategies'?
  • What are your expectations in terms of approach and ethos from a so named company?
  • What impressions do you form from the logo, font, colours and imagery (refer above)?

Thank you and I can't wait to read your insights and ideas.

Wendy Lundgaard (Principal)

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Love the bias link in your blog Wendy. I would expect a company that looks at the big picture, where we want to go as well as considering the human need which exists within all organisations. Logo for me suggests a friendly and down to earth perspective and a good 'fit' with the dots fitting nicely together. Good food for thought for me Thanks Wendy!

Andrea Young

When I consider these questions, my first inclination is to understand the ‘whole’ i.e. each component of a brand and how they relate to each other to form a brand identity and therefore speak to me. Often this collective provides an immediate feeling, almost like meeting someone for the first time and in those first three seconds making a judgement call as to whether you like them, or not, and therefore if a ‘relationship’ of sorts is possible. So, breaking this down in a logical way, a brand is “a particular identity or image regarded as an asset” (Oxford Dictionary online), whilst the term “win-win” “…[denotes] a situation in which each party benefits in some way” (Oxford dictionary online); “workplace” is “a place where people work” (Oxford dictionary online); and “strategy”, considered using business related reference points, as “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim” (Oxford Dictionary online). Strategy has also been described as “the art of thinking” (Urban Dictionary) and this, for me, resonates quite strongly with this brand. Perhaps because I have had the pleasure of engaging your services with my staff, I value the holistic thinking which has been beyond the application of theoretical strategy, allowing for more innovative and tailored interventions. So do I see this brand as it is broken down above? Does it tell me what services I should expect? Yes. It says exactly what you deliver – a service that considers people, place and appropriately tailored outcomes. It embeds values that suggest that you care about and consider the ‘workplace’ as a whole and that achieving actions/outcomes that ‘win’ for both the individuals involved and the organisation overall is central to your personal and professional values. What would be my expectations in terms of approach and ethos? That this delivers a service that is sensitive to the workplace culture and individuals within that organisation. That if ‘win-win’ outcomes are sought, that a full understanding of how that workplace functions, it’s drivers for change, its past, its present and its future direction and how your service can make a difference to that organisation is understood. That the approach is open, holistic and delivered with integrity taking account of the cultural environment to succeed in delivering whatever strategies are being developed. The logo itself is really interesting. Using primary colours suggests a strong identity, however for me the psychology behind the use of these colours and therefore what your brand means just by looking at it, the emotion that it evokes, is striking and important. Thinking about developing strategies and referring back to my preferred definition of ‘thinking’, your logo suggests for me an organic developmental opportunity – thoughts turn into solutions and change a workplace through the implementation of those ideas. However, green, in psychological terms, refers to growth and harmony, and blue, stability, trust, intellect and depth. Both colours are calming and in my view denote a thoughtful approach. This for me says everything I need to know about your brand, your ethos and what I can expect.

Fiona Tribe

Great thoughts Wendy. For me, a brand should reflect your purpose, personality and the experience your clients will have when engaging with you. It includes, but goes beyond simple visuals to feelings and emotions. I think the name ‘win-win workplace strategies’ reflects your passion for solutions that bring the employer-employee relationship closer together in a way that leaves neither feeling like they have ‘lost’ something throughout the process. It tells me that your solutions are long-term and enduring, not quick fixes that are embedded in the operational functions of business. The brand imagery is always a major focus for both new, and established, organisations. While it is sometimes tempting (and wise) to re-design the visual components of a brand over time, it is not always the right thing to do. For brands that have established a network of clients who recognise and connect to your brand visuals, to change them entirely can cause confusion and disconnection. I think the decision to stick with your original logo is a wise one. The font is simple, playful and easy to read. Blues are said to indicate stability, calmness and professionalism. Green is calming and often said to be good for ‘human resources’ businesses. Circular shapes are said to project positive emotional messages … so your brand visuals are ticking all the right boxes! For anyone choosing fonts, colours and shapes for a logo you will find yourself caught in a labyrinth of expert advice. Apparently if you choose a red and yellow logo your client will want to eat your HR reports rather than read them! While I agree that it is worth taking some of this advice on board; I also believe that you should trust your own instincts a little.