If you ask most entrepreneurs about their own brand naming process, you’ll receive a mixed bag of responses. For some, naming was simple. A no-brainer. No other consideration. For others, the naming process was more akin to a root canal. As someone who is decisively indecisive (I think?), my experience was the latter.
What I didn’t realize, though, was that of the hundreds of names we explored, ‘Huron’ was hidden in plain sight.
The story behind Huron.
As a 24 year old, I moved from New York to Chicago. I was transitioning from the start-up world (shout-out @bonobos) to the finance world. I was transitioning from living with three roommates to living with one. But I was not transitioning away from my decades-old battle with acne.
After spending a few years in Lincoln Park, I moved to River North in downtown Chicago. Specifically, I moved to an apartment building on Huron Street.
While living on Huron Street, my skin issues were at their worst. In fact, I had a boss once ask me ‘So, are you going to do anything with that?’ in reference to my acne. Not the confidence boost that I was looking for. For so long, I felt that nobody was looking at me and that everyone was looking at my skin. I didn’t feel great. And my skin didn’t look great, either.
After five years in Chicago, I migrated west for graduate school. A chance for a new start and a new skincare routine. I bit the bullet and walked into a more ‘premium’ skincare store and spent an offensive amount of money on a glass bottle of face wash (side note: I later broke said bottle when it fell in the shower). For whatever reason, that face wash did wonders for my skin. But I detested every step of that journey. I hated combing the aisles of grocery stores contemplating if product X would work, knowing well that the first two attempts were not successful. I hated the sterile dermatologist offices where I sat and waited for prescriptions that didn’t work as promised. I hated walking past this same ‘premium’ skincare store waiting for there to be no other shoppers present for fear of recognizing someone. But I went in, and I am glad that I did.
Could there be an opportunity to build a brand around high-performance, efficacious skincare products that didn’t require a second mortgage? I was intrigued.
Selecting a name.
After moving from San Francisco back to New York, I was immersed in building this brand. I was obsessed. But, what would the packaging look like? What about the website? And what would this brand be called?
To help answer these questions, we worked with a creative agency to help us unlock this opportunity. When we reached the naming portion of the creative process, I was pumped. But what I quickly learned was the comprehensiveness and exhaustion that surrounds naming. Trademark application and registration, URL digging, social handle exploration and packaging aesthetic are all important pieces of the branding puzzle. For the tech world, it’s ‘relatively’ easy; you make something up. For the consumer world, that doesn’t really fly (for most). Consumers want to know the WHY behind the brand. It had to be perfect, in my eyes. And with that, the pursuit of the ‘ah-ha’ brand name began.
We evaluated hundreds of names. We trashed hundreds of names. I spent the majority of a 3-day vacation ripping through websites looking for inspiration. It was exhausting. It was frustrating. And I had nothing to show for it.
We had a vision. We had a ‘why’. But we couldn’t find the name that encapsulated or channeled that reason for being. Or, at least I didn’t think so.
I went back to the basics. I re-evaluated some of our earlier naming selections and stumbled upon Huron. Yes, it’s the name of a Great Lake. Yes, I spent three years of my life living on this street in downtown Chicago. But this name transcended an address. It was more than a street.
Our brand is our spirit.
‘Huron’ represented everything that we wanted. We wanted to build a brand to help me, 5-10 years ago. For the guy struggling with skin issues and wondering what to do, we’re here. For the guy curious about how to use moisturizer or why it’s important, we’re here. Or for the guy who realizes he hasn’t upgraded his body wash in 15 years, we’re here for you, too.
I see the Huron name hundreds of times each day. It’s a subtle tip-of-the-cap to whom we’re advocating for. To whom we’re building great products for. And to whom we’re building our brand around. We say that the best way to know your customer is to be them. We are doing just that. And he happens to have lived on Huron Street.