When I started my business, I tried (but not that hard) to think of a good name. When I didn’t come up with anything I loved (after not that long thinking about it), I decided to just go with my own. “Hey,” I thought, “it worked for Jonathan Adler and Diane von Furstenburg!” I am here to tell you this: I gave myself kind of bad advice. Now that I’m a couple of years into this venture, with the benefit of our old pal hindsight, I now know a lot more about when naming a business after yourself makes sense, and when it might make more sense not to.
I could seriously write a book with all the lessons I learned in 2014. It wouldn't necessarily be a GOOD book, or useful to anyone else yet, but 2014 was nothing if not filled with lessons. Some people might call those lessons "mistakes," but I don't look at it that way. I can't.
I should start this off by noting that the person who inspired this post didn't say her professor gave her crappy advice. I said that. Here's the actual question I got from "Shirley" (not her real name) via email a few weeks ago:
*DISCLAIMER: I am not an intellectual property lawyer (nor any other kind of lawyer) and this post should not be taken as legal advice or permission.* I get asked a lot about the issue of using famous quotes on products, and this post is my attempt at shedding some light on this (very complicated) topic. I know this isn't a fun thing to hear, but in most cases, the answer to the question "Can I legally use X quote on my products?" is going to be no, with a few exceptions (which I'll get to in a minute).
When I was a junior art director, I remember showing my creative director some print ads I’d designed. He pointed to the little abstract decorative element I’d created in the corner and said, “What is this and why is it here?” “Um… It’s just a thing. For visual balance? Because I like it?” He told me that wasn’t a good enough reason, and then we had a conversation about how every visual element in a print ad should always relate somehow to the content of the message.