Selected Case Studies
GRADIENT is the answer to the window AC units of yesteryear: the thunderous, leaky, inefficient eyesores that dot the skies of every major city. Beyond heating and cooling, Gradient is about holistic comfort. It’s a name that captures the flexibility and fluidity of this low-carbon AC unit, which blends into its environment as easily as a window sill.
We interviewed their CEO, CTO, and Head of Product to understand the impact of this system on an individual’s environment, and the environment. While there was still some love for the original name (TREAU—or, Thermodynamics Rules Everything Around Us), we delivered the final name after just one round of naming.
We conducted a preliminary trademark screening in the US, and Gradient came back with only minor potential conflicts. After deeper legal clearance, they were able to move forward with registration.
URL wasn’t a driver of the project, and the team was open to prefixes and suffixes. They were able to secure gradientcomfort.com.
Initially, Gradient wasn’t a frontrunner—but after sitting with it for a few weeks, they couldn’t imagine any other name. A good legal screening and some positive peer feedback helped seal the deal.
FIGURE 1 (stylized as Fig. 1) is a skincare brand borne out of a commitment to the scientific method. The name is a reference to, well, reference—specifically graphs or images in an academic text. Figure also alludes to the human face as well as the simple logic of figuring something out.
We interviewed their team, which included (but was not limited to) an esthetician, a Chief Medical Officer, and a Head of Chemistry—essentially the Avengers of skin health. This told us everything we needed to know about this group’s priorities, and ultimately, the ideal naming territory.
The beauty space is incredibly crowded, but this client was eager to deviate from all of the “clean science” tropes and beauty cliches. We conducted a preliminary ™ screening in the U.S. and passed with flying colors.
URL was not a driving factor here (they were prepared to use suffixes like “beauty” or “skin”), but they were ultimately able to acquire fig-1.co.
Figure 1 was one of many favorites from the first round of naming. In our second round, we explored more names like it, eventually arriving at a strong list of six contenders. In our minds as well as theirs, Fig. 1 was a clear frontrunner for its multilayered meaning and its undeniably appealing brevity.
OFFSET is a brand design and technology company creating end-to-end brand experiences for the wine industry. Their approach includes identity and bottle design, strategic content and communications, and a commerce platform they built themselves.
We worked with the team at Offset to revisit their brand positioning and clarify their brand language. With their focus on the wine industry, and their ability to serve their clients in a holistic way, we had a lot of narrative texture to work with. We had so much fun collaborating, we also worked on the website copy for their commerce product, Figure.
WAYMO has spent over a decade leading the industry in autonomous driving. Their mission is big and their teams are passionate. By making it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going, Waymo has the potential to fundamentally transform mobility.
We originally partnered with our friends at Manual Creative to work closely with Waymo’s team in establishing a messaging framework as part of the brand’s guidelines. We’ve continued to work closely with Waymo’s marketing team, lending an editorial eye to the brand voice and developing copywriting for select projects.
Manna Molecular is a health and wellness cannabis brand from Mansfield, Massachusetts. Manna is a team of scientists who wanted to signal science but not go full lab coat. We worked with them to understand the complex science behind their company and product, then translate for an audience without jargon and head-scratchers. It’s hard enough to understand this stuff when you’re not high, we had our work cut out for us.
We worked directly with the CEO and COO to write Manna’s website, as our friends over at Out of Office were designing the site. As a nod to their serious scientific research, we got to write two versions of the website: regular mode and science mode.
Paul Duatschek had worked in biotech for ten years before he started applying his scientific method to homebrewing. When he showed up at our studio on his motorcycle with a bag full of beers, we got right to work. Standard Deviant works on a lot of levels. It speaks to science in a playful, almost mischievous way. On top of that, it captures the spirit of the brewing style: classic, with a little something extra that makes them unusual.
We worked directly with Paul to name a brand that could house his many experiments in the world of beer. Years later, with a brick and mortar location in the Mission, the name (and the beers) are tasty as ever.
The quirks of trademark classification mean you have to look at beer, wine, and spirits, while also watching out for producers, distributors, bars, and restaurants. So it’s a very crowded scene.
One of the things we loved about Standard Deviant was the way it played with the suffix “Brewing.” URL problem solved.
There were a number of names that hit the mark we were aiming for: scientific, playful, with a sense of action and adventure. Ultimately, when it came to making a decision, it was pretty clear that Standard Deviant was the strongest name on the table. Luckily, we had the relationship with Paul to tell it to him straight. The rest is cold, sweet history.
There’s a lot to dig into with this name. First, MINERAL is a foundational building block of life—it speaks to the necessity of what the team is building. It’s also about data collection and the resulting insights of that information. Finally, it suggests the nutrients and rich soil needed to grow healthy crops.
We worked with the leadership team in order to understand the challenge, the competitive landscape, and the roadmap. This put us in a position to figure out how we could have the most impact and lead into a story the team would be proud to tell. Working with the Mineral team was a dream project for us.
While incubated at X, the name needed the ability to stand on its own and be registered. Hardware and software always make trademark difficult but the specific agricultural application here made finding a registrable name less arduous.
Not a driving factor here. If Alphabet uses abc.xyz, their subsidiaries aren’t going to be stubborn about dot coms.
Mineral was presented in our second round of work. While the name quickly rose to the top for the team, we kept the focus on a small group of contenders until we were all certain Mineral was cleared legally.
MIRO is an excuse to think of your workday as a collaborative canvas. Derived from Joan Miró, the Spanish painter and sculptor who painted bright, bold murals of surreal amoebic forms. His vibrant, energetic work was a perfect metaphor for bringing ideas to life. Miro can also be considered as an empty vessel name with a connection to the Spanish word for “look” or “watch.”
When we began the project, Miro (then RealTimeBoard) had offices in San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Perm, Russia. We were lucky to be able to meet with the majority of the team in San Francisco to demo the product and work through our intake process. The team wanted a short, unmistakable name that spoke to creativity and visual collaboration.
Names were screened in the US and EU.
Not a project priority but the team was able to acquire miro.com
After legal review, we met with the leadership team in San Francisco and worked through the final contender names one by one. It rarely happens this way but we actually made a decision as a group, in the room.
A playful contradiction in terms, INSIDE WEATHER asks interesting questions: If being inside is supposed to protect you from the elements, what sorts of weather patterns exist indoors? Can a bedroom be dark and stormy? What makes a living room feel bright and sunny? The name uses weather to talk about the environment and mood you can create indoors with smart, stylish furniture.
We worked with the founding team to develop a name for their new furniture business that offered the variety and choice of made-to-order with the timelines of, say, Amazon.
Four names went into legal screening with their counsel. The team prioritized two names which both cleared.
Longer names always make for easier URL acquisition.
Inside Weather was a dark horse. It was well received initially but barely snuck into contenders. The name picked up steam from there and was the top choice going into their final legal checks.
ATMOS is environmental. It places you at the scene and makes you swear you’re really there. The name is atmospheric for a reason. Dolby wanted to move past the linear and logical system that brought us 5.1, 7.1, and 10.1 to a system where sound could come from anywhere—just like the real world. Our job was to name that feeling.
We worked with Dolby’s senior leadership team in San Francisco to position and name the strategic move away from their long-standing X.1 naming architecture.
Names were screened domestically and internationally.
We took 3 names into deep legal screening with Dolby’s trademark counsel. Atmos was the top contender at Dolby and A Hundred Monkeys.
OVERTURE is a 55-seat supersonic passenger jet designed to go Mach 2.2. An overture is an introduction, in music and now in flight. Considering this will be Boom’s first commercial aircraft, it says this is just the beginning. The name also has “over” in it, signaling that the jet will literally be 30,000 feet above the competition.
Fairly easy because not a lot of people make airplanes and most people who do name them alphanumerically or after birds of prey.
We took 4 names into deep legal screening with Boom’s trademark counsel. All names passed the test. In the end, Overture was the CEO’s favorite name.
HEYDAY is Target’s in-house brand of tech accessories. The name speaks to the ability for the brand to capture an individual’s sense of style. This is a name that says tech accessories have just as much to do with fashion as they do with electronics.
We worked closely with the brand team at Target, alongside the design team at Collins, to develop and present a wide range of names that were energetic, playful, and bold.
We worked closely with Target’s in-house counsel to conduct legal screening on all names shared with leadership.
The leadership team made the decision based on a variety of factors both creative and strategic.
WHEREBY is a video product that gives people the freedom to work from wherever they live best. The name embodies the same principles the team lives by. Whereby is an adverb that essentially means “by which”—it’s the means, or the method. It’s a real word, albeit not one that’s common in everyday language—a sweet spot for a name that you can own that still means something. Here, we also get a direct association with location, reiterating the concept of remote work.
We worked directly with the leadership team of the company, formerly called Appear.in. Up against trademark litigation they could no longer fight, it was time to change the name to something new—something that could also signal the company’s evolution and maturation.
Trademark was incredibly important. While the company is based in Norway, they operate in a number of countries globally where they’d need to protect their brand name for the future.
While a dot com was not the priority, it was a very-nice-to-have.
There were a number of names that the team felt had potential to carry the brand into its new chapter. Ultimately, a combination of the positioning, trademark landscape, and URL options brought Whereby into first place.
EERO was the first wireless router to bring design sensibilities to setting up and using a Wi-Fi network. The name Eero, inspired by the life and work of architect and designer Eero Saarinen, positions the product as an extension of the hearth and home.
We worked with the founding team to develop a name for the company that could also work as the name of their product. Years later, we worked with their marketing team to develop a strategic naming architecture for their expanding product line.
Their placeholder name when they first came to us had trademark challenges. It also didn’t quite work with their positioning. We conducted preliminary trademark screening in the U.S. and the deeper legal clearance was conducted by their legal counsel.
While it was not a driving factor in our process, they were able to acquire eero.com
If given the right conditions, the unexpected always seems to find a way. In this case? The CEO happened to attend elementary school in a building designed by none other than Saarinen himself.