Progress Report 9/12: Tech Stacks, Naming Process, and Logos

I did really well today. I finished the tech stack for the site. The purchasing and membership flows now work reliably from a technical perspective. Still looks like shit visually but that’s not the concern for now.

I finished the designs for the logos for all three of my projects: My personal brand, Truthaboutdesign and the Jamal Nichols group. I’m really happy with all of them:


We discussed the Jamal Nichols and Truthaboutdesign in my progress report yesterday. Let’s talk a bit more about the Jamal Nichols Group logo and story.

I want to take on larger projects than I can take on as one person, and I want to run them the way I think design and innovation projects should be run. For that, I need help. But I don’t want to hire employees just yet.

Thankfully, I have a friend who owns an amazing engineering company in Germany, a large network of designers who are always available for work, some great content strategists and writers, and some fantastic project managers. We decided to form a collective. It runs through me but I am not technically their “Boss”. I learned this is called a “Worker Cooperative”.

Jamal Nichols Group is the name for that. I did some research around which rendition of the JN brandmark is best. Around 80% of people preferred the JN brandmark in my Jamal Nichols logo. However, all agreed that there’s something raw and primal about the JN brandmark I chose for the Jamal Nichols Group. I thought that this rawness and emotional reaction that the mark produces could be useful to appeal to people on a subconscious level.

I also like that it’s a bit removed from my personal brand, but still shares some visual similarities. I want there to be some distance between me and this company, as it’s not purely about me, despite it carrying my name. Together with the circle around it, it resembles a Mandala a bit, and I like the symbolism it carries of wholeness and togetherness.

If I don’t want the Jamal Nichols Group to be about me, why did I give it my name? I have a very good answer for this: I spent months studying all there is online about how to create a good company name. A good name is very important. I didn’t want some corny ass name. But no amount of brainstorming, research, creating word-lists, looking through different languages and a Thesaurus led to any outcome I was happy with. During my research, I stumbled across a company that has created most of the names that shape modern culture: BlackBerry. Pentium. Sonos. Febreeze. Dasani. Embassy Suites. Swiffer! The name of this small agency? Lexicon. THAT’S THE BEST FUCKIN NAME EVER FOR A NAMING COMPANY. I read everything I could find online about their word-design-process. That was very sobering:

These people assemble a team of linguists, strategists, researchers and trademark lawyers, and it still takes them around 4 months to come up with a great name.

I simply didn’t have the capacity or skill to create a brilliant name and also launch a product. The best names that I could come up with were crap like “MadCraft” or “Brandgasm”.

But I knew what I wanted out of a name: I wanted it to be easily memorable, easy to spell, flexible in meanings I can assign to it, and inoffensive. I kept imagining how the name would be used in a context of a hiring manager making the case for hiring me to his or her peers and bosses. “I’m thinking of hiring Brandgasm” won’t go over as well as “We’re considering the Jamal Nichols Group”. It’s not the most brilliant name, but it works.

I’m really pumped. Things are coming together. There’s still a ton to do:

  • Improve visual design
  • Define color palettes
  • Set up affiliate program
  • Set up marketing automations
  • Create content (ongoing)
  • Market content (ongoing)

But I hit a major milestone today. Proud of myself!

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