Wise Waves: What's in a name?
by Hannah Moss
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
– Juliet, Act 2 Scene 2, Romeo and Juliet
Most of us would recognise this quote from Romeo and Juliet, the first part of which has since become an idiom in its own right. According to The Free Dictionary, ‘What’s in a name’ has the following meaning: “What someone or something is called or labeled is arbitrary compared to their or its intrinsic qualities.”
Are names just arbitrary labels?
For the most part, I agree that names are arbitrary labels and that something’s name does not matter nearly as much as its quality. I’ve never been one for designer labels, for example, and have never understood why someone would pay ten or twenty times more for the same item, just because it has a certain name attached to it. If it’s because the quality of the item is ten or twenty times higher, then that’s fair enough.
However, most people would say the name they were given at birth isn’t arbitrary. Well, it might have been at the time, but once you grow into it and grow up with it, it kind of sticks. I can’t imagine being called anything else, can you? If I were named Jessica instead of Hannah, I wonder if I would have become a different person: had different beliefs and values; seen the world in a different way. It’s food for thought, but there’s no way of ever knowing for sure.
Naming your own business
When it comes to naming your own business, you could argue that the arbitrariness of ‘what’s in a name’ applies here, as surely the quality of your products and services is more important than your name? But, if it’s your own personal business, particularly one where the service you offer revolves around YOU, it’s highly likely that finding the right name will be a challenging, time-consuming and deeply personal task.
You’re going to want your name to feel right each time you say it. You’ll want it to sit right and sound right. You’ll want it to evoke the right feelings and create the right impression. You’ll want it to resonate with the people who’ll become your customers. And you’ll want it to feel meaningful, both to you and to them.
Naming my business
So, where do you start? Well, having worked in authentic content marketing for several years, delivered many brand strategy packages to our clients, and recently worked on a naming process for one of them, I felt I knew a thing or two about branding and naming.
How I named my own business
So, this is the process I followed to name my own business:
- I started by making a list of themes. These included my own personal values, qualities I aspire to in others, how I want to come across as a coach and how I want my clients to feel after working with me. My list included words like: courage, resilience, nurturing and inspirational.
- As I came across other words and themes that resonated with me, I added these to my list. Some of these started expanding into short phrases, such as: inner wisdom, commitment to happiness and lightening the load. I knew that I needed to consider a strapline in conjunction with my business name, so it helped to come up with these short phrases, too.
- As I thought of them, I also added to my list a few qualities that are not like me, to help clarify the personality of my brand, e.g. wild, daring, spontaneous.
- I kept adding to my list over the next week or so, each time I saw or heard something that inspired or resonated with me. For reasons I’ll explain below, it wasn’t long before themes around water and the sea started coming up. And, as I explored this theme even more, I realised what a rich source of metaphor it is. There are waves of water, but also waves of emotion, waves of energy and waves of breath. You can ride the wave of life or get dumped by it! We can feel lost at sea, like we’re drowning or just treading water in our lives. Sometimes it feels like we’re navigating uncharted waters with not even a life raft for company. The sea – just like our lives – can be calm and steady or crashing and turbulent.
- I then started to pull some of the words and themes together, coming up with possible names and straplines from my list. Some of my shortlists included:
Brave Spirit [sounds like a shaman]
Go your own way
Into the Blue [sounds like a diving company]
Find your calm
Brave Waves [not sure about the rhyme]
Move into your flow
- The more I played around with these, the more I realised that water, and particularly waves, definitely needed to feature in the name and strapline. Eventually, I came up with:
Find your own flow
However, I later decided this strapline sounded too much like I was expecting my clients to find their flow all by themselves! So, I finally settled on:
Helping you find your flow
What the sea means to me
So, why were these watery themes coming up so prominently for me? Well, there are many reasons why the sea feels important. Firstly, as a Cancerian, I’m a water sign. I’m a highly emotional person and, like the tides, I’m ruled by the moon. I was born in July 1976, the hottest summer on record, and have always associated summer with birthdays, sunshine and frolicking on the beach.
I do like to be beside the seaside
I’ve always lived by the sea, having been born in Hastings and grown up in Brighton on the south coast of England. After a short stint in East Preston, West Sussex, living literally 30 seconds’ walk from the beach, I’m now settled in Eastbourne where, again, the sea is right at the bottom of my road. I also lived in York for three years, when I was at university there, and spent most of the time wondering why I felt so discombobulated. Now I realise it was because I couldn’t see, hear or smell the sea!
“Listen to the sound of waves within you.” – Rumi
The healing power of the sea
I’ve spent many, many hours of my life in or around the sea, and not just in the UK. I’ve been lucky enough to have done plenty of travelling and, during my longest trip, my sister and I spent 18 months following the sun around the world, hopping from ocean to ocean (as well as a few mountains, jungles, lakes, rainforests, glaciers and canyons along the way too!). From swimming and snorkelling to whale watching and island hopping, the sea had so much to offer on these trips.
My first holiday abroad, at the age of 12, was to the Seychelles. My mum didn’t have much money, but she was going out with a pilot at the time. Although he turned out to be not a very nice man, at least we got an amazing holiday out of him! My older sister was too cool for school and spent most of her beach time luxuriously sunbathing with my mum. I, however, thought this was rather boring at the time, so when I wasn’t playing with the other children I’d met, I would simply frolick for hours in the clear, warm, shallows of the gloriously perfect, turquoise Indian Ocean, making up songs and singing happily to myself (I wonder if that’s why turquoise is my favourite colour!).
Closer to home, I’ve also spent many hours walking, running and cycling along seafronts and promenades, as well as swimming in the sea (as much as I’ve tried cold water swimming, I have to admit I’m more of a summer swimmer in the UK!). As I’m self-employed and work from home most of the time, I simply can’t express how grateful I am to live so close to the sea. It really is my saving grace.
“A wave is never found alone, but is mingled with the other waves.” – Leonardo da Vinci
A grounding force
Whether I’m feeling happy, sad, anxious, low or angry, a walk by the sea has the power to lift my mood in an instant. And I’ve had some of my best ideas whilst walking by the sea. It’s as if the fresh sea air blasts away the cobwebs and allows me to think more clearly. Even on a grey day, the sea always looks beautiful to me. And every day it looks different. The colour of the sea changes – from sage green to grey to aquamarine to brown. The colour of the sky changes – from white to grey to black to pink to pale blue to rich blue.
And the cliffs of Holywell and Beachy Head are so magnificent, they take my breath away every time they come into sight. They’re such a grounding force, as they rise majestically out of the earth. And as the waves constantly lap at their feet, it’s as if they’re giving the cliffs a little kiss hello each time they come near.
Freeing my soul
As I stroll along the promenade, I listen to the gentle sound of the waves lapping at the shore, never ceasing. I hear seagulls whirling and crows cawing overhead. I get a whiff of rich, pungent seaweed in the air. I feel the fresh, biting wind on my exposed hands and face. I taste rich, black coffee in my mouth.
I’m reminded of the song The Sea by Morcheeba and, as I quietly sing it under my breath, I wonder which part of the UK coast they had in mind when they wrote it.
“Left my soul there, down by the sea
Lost control here, living free.”
And I realise that’s how my soul feels when I’m by the sea: free. It’s like the sheer enormity, the sheer expanse, of that vast body of water lifts my heart, ignites my soul and gives me a sense of freedom I don’t often feel. And it really puts things into perspective, too. Looking out across the water, I imagine all that life going on beneath the surface. All those sea creatures, all that plant life, just out there, doing its thing, going about its business, without a care in the world. While up here, on dry land, we humans seem to spend most of our days fretting, worrying, comparing, striving and seeking approval from others. Will we ever know true freedom?
Why Wise Waves?
As you can tell, the sea holds a place of particular importance in my life. So, what about the ‘wise’? Firstly, my favourite animals are the owl and the elephant, both of which are known as the wisest in the animal kingdom.
An inner knowing
But, more than that, I chose wise because it pertains to how I see wellbeing coaching. I believe all of us have an innate inner wisdom. We already know everything we need to know – certainly in terms of our inner world anyway, by which I mean we already have the tools we need to thrive. We already have the answers within us. The answers we’re all trying to find. What’s my purpose in life? What makes me tick? How do I live a better life? How do I become a better person? How do I find true happiness?
We all know the answers to these questions already. But, some of us need a little help to access them. It can be a challenging and treacherous journey venturing within, especially if you’ve never gone there before. Where do you start? How do you find the path? Where will it take you? What if you don’t like what you find there? What if you can’t find the way back?
As a wellbeing coach, I want to help you on this journey. I want to hold your hand and be your companion, guiding you through the ups and downs, and shining a light for you in the darkness. I want to help you see that it’s not so dark and scary in there, you just need to know how to navigate and what to do when you hit an obstacle.
Helping you find your flow
Ultimately, I want to help you find your flow, so you can feel in control and ride the wave of your life with ease. I’m not saying you’ll never get dumped by the wave again, but hopefully, with the tools and strategies we create together, you’ll be up on your feet again a little quicker each time. And the ride will get just a little less bumpy.
So, what’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually! Although the quality of what you offer is more important than what you call yourself, if YOU are your brand then your business name will be a very personal thing. And it’s important to take the time to find a name that’s right for you. I hope that reading about my own naming process, as well as the story of how I named my business, will help you in naming yours.
Thanks for dropping by and reading all the way to the end. If you’d like some help journeying within, finding your flow and riding the wave again, check out my coaching packages and book a discovery call with me to see if we’re a good fit.