October 4, 2011|
“There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things.”
— Phil Karlton
I’m not a developer, so I can’t speak to the difficulty of cache invalidation. But I can confirm that naming things can be really hard. The good names are taken. URLs are unavailable. Different words mean different things to different people.
So it was no surprise that we struggled to name our new company. There just wasn’t an obvious direction to go. Having someone’s name in the title wasn’t really an option. My name (Todd Zeigler) is impossible for people to both say and spell. Even if it was more user friendly, I’m horrified by the idea of naming the company after myself. If you know me you know that I love music, so I kept thinking of terrible names derived from obscure songs by old, semi-famous rock bands. That might work for a Twitter handle, but not so much for a company supposedly run by grown ups.
After a few weeks of frustration, “Brick Factory” just sort of came to us and we knew immediately it was the right choice.
Before I explain what it means, I’d like to give you permission to dislike the name, at least initially. I’ve run the name by people I respect and trust, and have gotten more than a few blank stares. Some people love it. Some people don’t get it. Some people actively dislike it. All reactions are valid.
But ultimately I don’t think the initial reaction to the name is all that important. We haven’t done anything yet, so “Brick Factory” doesn’t really mean anything at this point. What you think of the name, and us by extension, will be defined by the content we produce, the interactions we have and the work we do. Inevitably the name will become a reflection of the brand we build. So I’m much more interested in what you think in six months than what you think now.
Having said all that, I love the name.
When I started at The Bivings Group in the late 1990s, there was a department of the company called the “Brick Factory.” It consisted of college kids whose job was to convert massive documents (reports, PPTs, studies, etc.) into HTML that could be posted to the web. The documents were called “bricks” and the process of converting the document into HTML was called “bricking.” This was back in the days when doing all this was quite hard.
We thought calling the new company Brick Factory was a nice way to give us a fresh start while also tipping the cap to the people who have worked at The Bivings Group over the years. We also like the contrast of using a name that evokes an old school work ethic for a company that builds world-class digital programs. It just seems right.
Now that we have a name we like, we have to get to the hard work of making it mean something….