Branding choices might also result from the fact that others just got there first. Husband and wife duo Carrier and Company had originally wanted to incorporate the couple’s practice as “MC Studio,” short for Miller-Carrier, before realizing that MC Studio is already the name of an adult-film distribution company in Tampa, Florida. “We quickly changed the name to Carrier and Company,” says Jesse Carrier. “the ‘and’ was partially because we don’t love ampersands, but moreover, because we decided we wanted our logo to be my cursive script, which (we thought) looked better all spelled out.”
More than simply a name though, the choice to add people other than the founding couple to the company acts as a broader corporate strategy for the future as well. “The ‘and Company’ also invites options for expansion, product categories, and more staff,” adds Mara Carrier.
Designer Jamie Bush hit a similar roadblock. “For years, I had the name ‘Bush Interiors.’ It was very scripted and flowery. There was a bird. Do you know Saul Steinberg [the famed New Yorker illustrator]? I sort of borrowed a bird with an eyeball logo that sat in the B. It was retro and charming. But there was also an upholstery company called Bush Interiors, so anytime someone looked it up, it looked like I was selling back seats for trucks,” says Bush. “I realized I needed to use my name, but also my ethos, which is that it takes a village.”
The resulting monicker? Jamie Bush + Co. According to the designer, “Even though the ampersand is another mark, there’s something clean and clear about the plus. I’m trained as an architect. We do a lot of interior architecture, so there’s a certain clarity to that symbol, which seems more expressive of the work that we do.”
Perhaps the most important thing, according to Bush, about the name of the company though, is the inclusion and celebration of his team. “Our business cards are very simple—white on white. But the plus sign is gold so it really stands out. It’s true that I’m one person, but we have fifteen people in the office. The ‘plus’ is the most important part of the name and logo.”
For Michael Bierut though, the designer behind the legendary graphic design firm Pentagram, the symbols are a lot less important than the words themselves. “Do we integrate the names and the principals into the name, or do we give it a name that’s more abstract?” he says. “Years ago, I helped David Rockwell pick his logo. I had a bunch of ‘this one or that one’ choices for him: Sans serif or serif typeface? All caps or all lowercase? To me, it was a matter of personal taste.”
For all the hemming and hawing, though, at the end of the day, says Beirut, a difference in punctuation isn’t going to turn you into the next Roman and Williams. “I suppose there are some people who would be either disinclined or more inclined to hire an architect based on the eyeglasses they had on,” he says. “The work designers do and the manner they project does 95% of the job.”