Naming Our Baby, AKA What's a Quokka?

By Summer Teal Simpson Hitch

As I write this, I am 39 weeks pregnant with our first child, a daughter. There’s a lot that’s hard about approaching parenthood for the first time.

Naming Our Baby 1

We’ve been prepping, purchasing, nesting, reading, and drinking from a firehose for what seems like forever, and we’ve yet to even really start the parenthood part. One thing in particular that we have struggled with, that we can’t seem to check off the list, is deciding her name. It’s so remarkably and unequivocally personal. Unlike the myriad decisions of lesser significance, her name will precede and stay with her for her lifetime. It’s a lot of pressure.

I can draw a parallel to the experience that Focus Lab has had recently with naming the proposal tool product we’re creating.  If you’re a follower of Focus Lab, you might know it as Lasso. We named it such in October 2016 after a week-long team retreat dedicated to developing the foundation for Lasso’s brand, product functionality, and project timeline. It was a bumpy ride. Everyone had an opinion, consensus was elusive, we overthought it, we second guessed ourselves.

Though imperfect and not embraced by everyone, the name Lasso was the result of an exhaustive many-man naming effort. We name and brand companies all the time, so you’d think it would come naturally to us to do those things for ourselves. (Insert snicker here.) As is often the case at young companies, the truth is that the emperor has no clothes. We simply don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to our own projects the way we do for our clients. And the time and resources we do have we dedicate to the products themselves, so functionality takes precedent. Accordingly, when it came time to name the proposal tool, we both adhered to and departed from our time-tested naming process.

We honored our naming process by involving some of the naming superstars at Focus Lab, those with longstanding experience successfully naming companies. We also introduced our own process to the Proposal Tool naming team in an effort to glean ideas from engaging in said process. (Learn more about our process here.)

But we broke a few key rules. We involved players that were perhaps too close to the product and let them give greater weight to the outcome. And we involved almost the entire team. Can you say death by committee? Don’t get me wrong, it was hella fun. And we even had some strong gems emerge, but getting everyone on board and enthused about one name was extremely difficult. However unintentionally, internal politics pulled weight. When the dust settled, we also made the classic mistake of narrowing in on too few options. With only two frontrunners, we didn’t prepare ourselves adequately for the legal vetting process.

As you can imagine, we were heartbroken when, after completing a hearty team branding effort, we discovered that there was a legal conflict with the name Lasso. After ALL THAT, we would have to go back to the drawing board and make new magic. Fortunately, we are a team of resilient minds and we attacked the new naming process with renewed vigor… and some lessons learned.

This time around, we kept the naming team lean and the process tight-lipped. Like my husband and I privately vetting names for our daughter rather than opening it up to an opinionated family, we limited ourselves to a core team to namestorm, cull, and present a host of options to our legal advisors. The process took a quarter of the time and the results were rich.

We presented six naming options to legal, but in our hearts we were already set on one. Fortunately, it passed the test. We unveiled Quokka to the broader team when the ink had dried. It was received with universal enthusiasm, highlighting the difference in psychological responses of vetting ideas v. presenting solidified choices. We were off to the races to brand our freshly-renamed baby.

Winston1

So why Quokka?

If you’re American this may be your introduction to the word, well-known half a world away. A quokka is an Australian marsupial of ridiculously cute proportions. It is the size of a giant rat with the face of an oversized chipmunk and the trademark marsupial pouch in which to nurture its young. Google ‘quokka selfie’ for hours of entertainment. You’re welcome.

Quokka hit on many cylinders for us. It is friendly and approachable. It presented us with an opportunity for a brand mascot, embracing a level of brand playfulness and energy that would differentiate us from the proposal tool competitive set. It is unique, memorable, and ownable. And since ‘quokka’ sounds a wee bit like ‘quote’ there is a subtle reference to a key feature of the product.

We always preach to clients that the company or product name is just one part of the larger brand experience. With Lasso in the rearview, we’ve embraced Quokka as an awesome starting-off point for a robust proposal tool brand.

Check out Quokka here.