Howard Karloff is not my real name. The Howard part is. Karloff? Nah.
In a past life, when I found out that another performer had already registered my “real” name with the actors’ union I had to find an alternative. To cut a long story short I followed the lead of this man. We share the same surname and we both lived in Enfield for a while. That’s where the similarities end. (He was slightly more successful than me…)
Fast forward 30-odd years and along with my colleague, we had to choose another name to work under professionally. What did we want it to say? What did we want to convey? As a first point of contact we wanted it to say something about us. That we were the same… but different. We had, for a long time, seen that there were plenty of companies that consisted of a colour and a noun. The rest, as they say, is trademarked.
How do you make yourself stand out? And if you’re really lucky, how can you make your brand name interchangeable with the product like Hoover, or Tannoy or Google? If you want to spend an absolutely hilarious few minutes Google (there you go…internet search) for “best business names” or “what should I name my business?” For less than a couple of thousand dollars you could be the CEO of Bydyn, Syrtex, Mylun or Hymp. Romofy, Bozti and Faybey are still available too. Yes. People make a living out of making up words and selling them to you. I’m in the wrong job…
If you are able to employ your own creative flair, and our firm belief is that anyone with a pulse can do that, you could follow the advice offered by Vistaprint when it comes to choosing a name. Then you can pull on your "Goddess of Victory" trainers, jump in your "I roll", grab a coffee from the chief mate in Moby Dick and while you are there browse the catalogue of Ingvar Kamprad from Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.
There may be more to it than that. A fair bit of research has gone into the subject of nominative determinism– the idea that your name has an impact on your life choices. On one level it points to the number of doctors called Doctor, Blood, Fix, Cure or Heal, but on a more subtle level it suggests that you are more likely to become a dentist if you are called Dennis or Denise, or live in St. Louis if you are called Louis, or Philadelphia if you are called Phil. It could all be coincidence, or perhaps you start to see yourself, and act and behave in accordance with the first “social tagging” you receive. Your name.
In the near future we will be running one of our regular idea-sharing Business Jams on the subject of “what’s in a name?” We’d love your thoughts and input. Please share your ideas and hopefully we might see you there.
I did have one other foray into choosing a different name. Legend has it that synth-legend Gary Numan picked the name “Neumann” from the phone directory, so I tried that too when I was about 17. I flicked through the pages of my local phone book and jabbed my finger in at random. Perhaps I should have kept the name that fate picked. Perhaps my life would have taken a different turn. Who knows…
Anyway, all the best,
Colour; Noun (Vicky Holding and Howard Karloff)