In almost everyone's life, sooner or later, there comes a time when you are called upon to name something or someone. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's not.
Bookworm went through a phase once where she named everything. Sure, every kid names his or her stuffed toys, but she named instruments (not that uncommon), note books, iPods, pencils, .... everything. (She did not, alas, offer up a name for the house. I'm fond of named houses.... but that's not the point here.) Naming came easily to her. I envy her so.
Naming is not my forte. When I named my daughters, I first spent hours (I could have earned a degree had I spent that time differently, I'm sure) poring over name books -- tasting them, feeling them roll across my tongue, chasing down their origins and meanings, putting them in combinations -- testing the combinations for sound and mood and definitions.... And in the end, I narrowed the names down to several, and waited for my daughters to "tell" me what their names were.
When new cats come into the house, I look at them, and contemplate the names that resonate with their appearances, but generally wait until their personality is clear before naming them. I also listen to the cats. They too "tell" me what their names are. With the more recently adopted cats, I first listened to see if they were at home with the names they came with -- they were, and so we did not re-name them.
I am now faced with a new naming challenge.
When I first started massage school, I figured out (even before the first day of class) what I wanted to name my future massage business. But then, when we all dashed out and got free business cards to hand out at Community Outreach events (so that we could drum up "business" for the free massages we give as homework), I found that one of my classmates had also come up with that name. She put hers on her cards.
I pouted for a minute, but figured that this meant one of two things: we are destined to become business partners, or I'm destined to choose a different name for my massage business. Either way, I had plenty of time.
Our new class is on business -- how to build a massage business. While part of it is things like taxes and leases and financial statements, part of it is creating forms and pricing your work. The forms themselves are easy for me. But at the top of every form, in the middle of every business card, is one consistent thing that I suddenly find very challenging: A business name.
Naming criteria may have something to do with this. For a child, one wants a name that is not too pompous and cumbersome for a toddler or child, but not too babyish or wispy for a professional adult, while avoiding formidability. It needs to last. Depending on your preferences, it either needs to be happily abbreviated into nick-names that aren't offensive or belittling, or it needs to avoid lending itself to abbreviation. It ought also to fit the child (like you can figure that out after 12 hours of labor when the child in question is seven and a half pounds of sleep or hunger).
For a pet, the criteria vary a bit depending on whether this pet is a free roaming creature or a caged creature. With the caged animal, you needn't worry quite as much about whether when you call out this name across the yard/field/house the name is distinct enough to be recognizable. Shouting out "Agamemnon Come..." not nearly as effective as calling for "Rex". Of course, this name should also fit the animal, but that tends to be easier when we do the naming (for all but pedigreed show critters/horses that tends to be 6-8 weeks, when they've starting coming into their personalities).
For a business, on the other hand, the name should be simple, memorable, and informative. It should avoid weird impressions (especially in massage - one does not want to give the impression, ever, that one is offering services that are illegal in most states). While it is true, now that I've looked at it a few times, National Fish Therapeutic Massage is a memorable name -- it's memorable mostly because one spends a while wondering what on earth Fish have to do with massage, and not because it seems relevant.). They say that you should avoid using your name if you're a woman, just so that the creeps out there don't decide that the feminine name sounds alluring... or the strong professional name identifies a dominatrix.
So. I'm back to naming my business. I want to convey a tad more than just Therapeutic Massage since I will be doing energy work as well as standard Swedish stuff. I'm already certified in Reiki (and am planning to get the next certification level soon), so I need to avoid a name that sounds too clinical, and yet I also need to avoid a name that sounds too "new agey". I do relaxation massage, but I also do deeper tissue specific work. (Is anyone surprised that I'll have a complex blend? Me either).
So, here I am.... overthinking things to death, contemplating using other languages (like that will be comprehensible to the English speaking population that will represent 90% of my clients), and poking around in all sorts of places looking for the right name. Meanwhile, my family keeps making wholly inappropriate suggestions, just to see me puff up and get all pompous about the importance of avoiding suggestive names.
What is in a name? While it may be true that the rose would smell as sweet no matter what name we give it, the rose's name doesn't have to tell people who don't know who or what it is what it does. And the rose's name need not inspire new clientele to trust it enough to risk the cost of a massage, while subtly and quietly telling those in search of an erotic massage that it's a complete waste of time to call.