How We Picked the Name “Sunbird Creative”

We adore our name. Perhaps it’s no surprise that naming our baby business was my favorite part of setting up a brand. As a writer, I relished our hunt for the perfect words. The process was a 2-week-long rollercoaster ride that involved white boards, Wikipedia, a thesaurus, and a lot of pacing around the home office.

Step 1: Identify Mission & Market

Mara and I started by honing in on who our target market was and what we wanted to represent to them. As a branding and marketing agency in New York City, we wanted to be an antidote to overwhelm. We wanted to make our small business clients feel refreshed.

We wanted our name to be associated with nature and lightness--not corporations or technology. But we also wanted it to communicate some aspect of what we literally do.

Step 2: Get Discouraged

Once we had a goal in mind, we set out like explorers to discover a name that fit our vision. What aspects of nature felt light and refreshing? Birds and water, of course! We were excited to put together a huge list of options to choose the perfect name from.

So we wrote out every combination of water- and bird-related imagery we could think of….

Bird Marketing // Little Bird Marketing // 3 Birds Marketing // The Bird Marketing // Strange Bird Media // Rare Bird Media // Blackbird Branding & Marketing // Bluebird Group // Spring Creative // Waterfall Media // Spring Media // Brook Media // Little Brook Media // Brook Branding // Rivulet Creative

...and then crossed off 95% of our options. Domain and registry searches showed that they were already taken. Not only taken by another business, but often by other marketing and creative firms! We had apparently tapped into some collective unconscious reserved only for our industry.

After spending hours every day thinking up new names that turned out to be taken, we were starting to get discouraged. It looked like we would have to change tactics and throw our work away.

Step 3: Get Lucky

I had never heard of "sunbirds" before, but some mad rabbit hole down Wikipedia led me to their page.

These strange birds struck me for three reasons:

  1. You can find sunbirds in both Africa and China. Since I was born in South Africa and my partner in Hong Kong, it represented both our origins.

  2. Sunbirds are badasses (excuse my French). They hunt and stab flowers when they have to.

  3. Sunbirds are small and quick, their flight “fast and direct.” That’s exactly how we wanted to operate our business.

In the end, the term “Sunbird Creative” perfectly captured our refreshing, down-to-earth personality and hints at the kind of work we do as branding experts and content creators.

If you haven’t named your business yet, there’s a few things you should keep in mind.

If you’re more conservative and pragmatic: You’ll tend to pick names that literally describe your business (like "NYC Bakery"). Keep in mind that a name is the cornerstone of a brand, and that branding is important to long-term business health. It’s great to score high in Google search results, but will the people who find you ever remember and return?

If you’re more idealistic and passionate: You’ll tend to pick names that mean something to you (like a childhood nickname). Remember that your business is created for other people, not yourself. If your target market doesn't connect with your name immediately, it isn't a good one, no matter how much it might mean to you.

No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, there are basic principles that virtually all strong business names follow.