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Why I changed my name - Playing the studio name game

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Quite some time ago, I decided to move away from my old business name (Severn Agency) and am now working under my new studio name &Something.

I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the process, the reasons why, and how I went about it.

Perhaps you are thinking about changing or rebranding your own business, in which case, I hope that my story inspires you and gives you confidence. Maybe, like me, you’ve been stuck for a while, wondering about all the ‘what ifs’ and the implications it might have on your image or your bottom line.

If that rings true, I’m here to tell you that sometimes, you just have to trust your gut. Change is scary but, in some circumstances, necessary.

The backstory

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Although I had a vision of what I wanted it to look like back in the beginning, I struggled to find the right name. I made lists of ideas, shortlisted some, and then decided that none of them fit in with my ethos. In the end, it took me months of thinking up names and concepts for my brand.

The name ‘Severn’ came up because it kind of fitted in with my location (I’m based in Shrewsbury, which has the River Severn running through it), which I thought gave a certain familiarity locally. Still, it felt a bit lame, and although it was on the list, I’d already rejected it.

I felt stalled. How could I move on with my business ideas if I couldn’t even think of a decent name? In the end, I’d got myself so tangled up in it that I became fed up – perhaps I was overthinking this? Had I made it more complicated than it should be? I went back to that original list, and ‘Severn’ came up again. Maybe that was the best of a bad lot – it would have to do. So I went with it.

I wanted to use the word ‘Severn’ alone as the name of my brand, but soon after I started working on client projects, some of my clients began referring to me as ‘The Severn Agency’. I had mixed feelings about that – on the one hand, did being branded as an agency give me a kind of ‘kudos’, making me look like a bigger entity than just myself? Would that matter? On the other hand, it felt a bit flat – I always felt a bit embarrassed at announcing myself as ‘Severn Agency’, and because of that, I never used it when I answered the phone.

For almost 4 years, I grew my business under that name while never feeling completely at ease with it. I knew it wasn’t right; it always seemed like a temporary option. I kept thinking, “It’ll do…for now”, but in the back of my mind, I was always thinking about the next evolution.

Making a change

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Over that past year, following the pandemic and national shutdown and a few personal events, I again began to wonder if this might be a good time to rebrand.

While there were some elements that I was happy to keep, the main driver was, as I mentioned, the name. I just wasn’t comfortable with it – I might have said that I’d outgrown it, but in truth, it never felt like mine to begin with.

But changing was a cause for stress too. Had I left it too long? Would I lose recognition by changing the name? Should I simply have the two brands run alongside each other? In my mind, it was both risky and an urgent requirement – a chance to step away from the old into something that was more ‘me’.

In the end, that was more important. So I took the chance and went back to the drawing board – quite literally!

What's in a name?

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The idea for the &Something name came about because I wanted a name with some reason behind it, and this one came about purely by accident. As part of my MA, we were going through a bit of a debate on names.

The tutor’s opinion was that it didn’t have to matter that much. Just pick two surnames and call it’ Something and Something’. I liked the sound of that as well as the ‘&’ being part of it because that’s my favourite character.

I think the name creates a sense of intrigue, and having the symbol there is somehow jarring enough to make the eye stop and look without being nonsensical.

In my web address and across my marketing, I have described myself as a studio rather than an agency. I like that it gives more of an intimacy, an impression that you’re not dealing with a faceless, big agency but rather a specialised creative studio, which fits better with what I’m trying to achieve.

Am I glad I did this now? Yes, I am. I think it was the right time – and although it took a while to overcome the fear of going for it, I’m pleased to say that making that change has helped me realign the business and given me some direction on how I want to move things forward.

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