The Birthing Process
Coming up with a brand name for a Fashion company is like giving birth. Though I have never personally gone through the childbirth process myself, from what I’m told it’s probably the worst pain a woman can go through. Not to trivialize the incredible job women do of creating life but any Fashion entrepreneur or branding guru will tell you coming up with a brand name is fraught with tension, pain and sometimes disappointment.
When we started the process of re-branding (including a new brand name) we tried to shortcut the process by assembling a band of the finest ‘Creative Minds’ we could find. All experts in their own field - from Product Design, Fashion to Graphic Design. This did not make the process any easier. In fact it made it harder. It was like herding cats whilst giving birth! Some took the process extremely seriously, some were reticent, others felt the need to tell a joke–a–minute. The antics were none stop. In the first hour we had such silly clichéd names I almost gave up and was about to sign up for the nearest accountancy course. Accountancy being any one of the top 300 jobs my parents would rather have me do rather than work in fashion.
Light at the end of the tunnel
By the way the creative process both before and after this session went on for a few months. Back to the workshop, if you can call it that, which was perhaps, one hour at most. That one hour and as I said before with some of the most creative people I know, felt like a lifetime, even thought there was coffee and cake and the promise of a good time. A few, very different avenues were found, a few lines ploughed a few brows furrowed. To continue with the agricultural analogy, some dug in their heels and others plainly ridiculed suggestions. This was not the best way to get good ideas but somehow we hit upon the idea of a ‘global traveler’. Something we all agreed was a theme uniting women from Shanghai to San Francisco.
Why it's Fashion of course
I disliked the idea of a ‘Global Nomad’ at first but the theme kept popping up in different guises. Not one for subtlety and understatement I knew there had to be some signifier connected to Fashion to give us any chance of cutting through the fashion industry noise. Hence the word ‘style’ was introduced to the conversation. Remaining true to myself I also knew that I have never had much love for obscure brands with even obscurer names, for some elite group complete with special symbols or worse unpronounceable name.
A new fashion (Jewelry) Brand Is Born
After many days and hours of hand wringing, and incredibly detailed scientific tests i.e. using Facebook to crowdsource the final choice from a shortlist of names, a decision was finally made. Opinions were also collected from friends who loved fashion or have worked in the business. Straw polls were taken and Gallop crunched some numbers (only joking) and the name Boheme Style Nomads was finally birthed.
So what does ‘Boheme Style Nomads’ mean? What is the heart and soul of the brand or the story behind it? Well, Boheme to mean a Bohemian – geddit? We are still being criticized by some for being elitist (the irony) and pandering to an overeducated Fashion-crowd. You will have to forgive us because we think the leap from Bohemian to Boheme is not so large and anyone the least bit interested in fashion could make the connection. French speakers will also recognized the anglicized word.
Creating Authentic Meaning
The group of Creatives, let’s call them, liked the idea of a ‘Nomad’ but I had a problem with the idea of a person not being rooted. Having lived in a few countries myself, I remember as a child the slight FOMO when friends would tell me they had lived in the same house for 20 years. At one point in my life I had 3 or 4 bedrooms. Lucky you might think but as any Diplo-brat might tell you moving around as a kid or travelling over long periods as an adult can make a person find it hard to settle in one place. ‘Fashion’ or ‘Style’ can and should be nomadic, another way to describe eclectic style that refuses to be pigeonholed. As long as the brand didn’t stand for a constant search for some mythical non-existent Eden I was happy.
Change but not as we know it
Amongst the many ‘buzz’ words for 2016 one of the new phrases ‘du jour’ which kept popping up is a ‘Change Agent’. People styling themselves as ‘Change Agents’, organizations claiming to be change agents, articles on change agency. As we were going through a big change the nerd in me decided it was time to investigate the term. According to the Cambridge Dictionary (in your face Wikipedia) a Change Agent is ‘a person or thing that encourages people to change their behavior or opinions’ or in the workplace ‘a person or group that works on a change programme’. The list goes on and the prescribed models differ like chalk and cheese. Forbes even has a list of ‘change agenty’ things that every leader must do or face extinction! Yikes. Google the term ‘Change Agent’ and one of the top searches from (http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3615) gives you 5 Characteristics of Change Agents – which are Clear Vision, Patience & Persistence, Ask tough questions, Knowledgeable, Leads by example and Strong relationships built on Trust. Whilst the ‘clever clogs’ at Forbes narrow it down to two ‘highfalutin’ things: ‘Cultural Intelligence’ and ‘Multi-generational Teams’. If we went by the Forbes model then we were on to a winner - creatives from different design practice and students , industry and academics volunteering their ideas for the brand.
Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration
There is something definitely pertinent about the idea of people from a variety of backgrounds and experience coming together in any design process. Design Thinking theory has established this as one of the single most important criteria for problem solving and innovation. Our motley crew from different cultures, and design disciplines have something special in their diversity. Without creating a pseudo religion or design philosophy collaboration is a wonderful 21st Century buzzwords that I like, no scratch that love! When disparate groups, or individuals come together to form a team, if they work well together the result is often better than if the individuals worked alone. Even in my early Fashion career as a Product Developer and sometime Fashion Stylist I saw the ‘beauty’ that could be created when the Stylist, Photographer, Hair, Makeup and Designer came together with one goal – to create a beautiful Fashion Image. Brands who have leaders at their helm with different strengths do well and there is no coincidence that ‘duo’ Designers like Proenza Schuler, Peter Pilotto (not one person by the way) & Dolce & Gabbana thrive.