Company Names

I run a small company called Black Chair Studios. We build custom software for businesses, and we help businesses create and execute successful online strategies. So, why “Studios”? Why not “Black Chair Software”, or “Black Chair Consulting”? (“Why Black Chair” would also be a valid question, but that post is still waiting to be written—it involves men in green suits and a colourful cartoon fish.)

We’re still at a point in our growth where we could probably change our business name (or at least change the qualifier) without confusing too many of our clients or prospective clients, since most of them know us by our first names. I’ve certainly thought about it; tacking “software” or “consulting” to our name would make what we do a lot more obvious at first glance. “Studios”, on the other hand, is rather ambiguous—the qualifier is shared by designers of all stripes, game developers, painters and visual artists, and of course the creators of audio recordings and motion pictures. So here’s why I don’t think we’ll switch (and I might be wrong, or we might change our minds—fortunately business names aren’t nearly as important as some people make them out to be):

  1. I really like the ambiguity. Most small and medium businesses don’t know they need custom software. Many don’t know they need to work on their online strategy. I want to talk to them about that stuff, and putting it right there in the name can cause them to lose interest before I get a chance to. (ie. “John hired a company that helped him make $$$ more last year. I have no idea what they did, but I should give them a call.” is way better than “John hired a software company last year! He’s crazy—everyone hates computers, and I bet it cost him a fortune.”) It also let’s us take on projects that don’t necessarily fall into the “software” or “consulting” bins (larger websites, marketing projects, etc). Obviously we’re not ambiguous about what we do in our conversations or on our business cards, but I really do think a bit of ambiguity in the name can be helpful to our cause.
  2. I also really like the creative connotations. People assume we’re designers. We are, sort of, but not in the way people think; we design software architecture and user experiences, relying on some very talented partners for visual design. Still, having people associate our service with creative processes rather than logically rigorous programming is important—we do our best work when our clients let us know their goals and then leave us the freedom to figure out how we can help them get there.


Software developer, book writer, beer brewer :)

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