So what is in a name, well everything, especially when you are trying to choose a new company name. I mean how hard can it be? Not as hard as choosing names for our children surely? Wrong! Baby number one remained without a name for the first seven days of his life and in the end we came to an agreement on the Irish name Finn but only if it was spelt with a “y” hence Fynn. The result is the boy will be correcting the spelling of his name for the rest of his life as people try and call him Flynn - although its a great character name for a cowboy film. The second child was much easier we had a girl’s name decided before she even fully arrived on planet Earth - Arabella- after her great grandmother - job done!
So back to the company name, I set up VRNI in December 2016 and quickly realised by March 2017 that it is too restrictive. I had returned from SxSW17 after showcasing RETNE, my first VR experience created for HTC Vive and had experienced a full range of immersive content, technologies and all the possibilities it has to offer. VR does not even begin to fully reflect the breadth of emerging technologies in terms of augmented or mixed reality and artificial intelligence and whatever else the next big thing is going to be. So began a rebranding process and a new website design after only four months with a fantastic Belfast based company Big Motive (great name!).
I am a visual artist and like many others I had a road to Damascus experience with VR in November 2016 in Reykjavik at the Harpa with Bjork’s VR from Rewind and her Vulnicura album - to say it blew me away is an understatement. Up until then I had been working in painting, neon installations, photography, prints and now VR. The previous naming processes for the various companies and websites up to this point had been straight forward - registered as a sole trader with the tax man under my own name and website domain. Then I started to sell cycle prints - so the site cycleprints.co.uk was bought. I then added paintings of George Best, Carl Frampton, Joey Dunlop to my collection and so sports-prints.com was born, all very easy. But now to name a company whose brand is to reflect this new passion where my creativity can work hand in hand with technical capability. This has been the most challenging naming process to date.
I had a road to Damascus experience with VR in November 2016 in Reykjavik at the Harpa with Bjork’s VR from Rewind and her Vulnicura album
We had a meeting seven days ago at Big Motive and after mind mapping for an hour and a half, the shortlist consisted of three finalists Verb, The Gate and Neon. So upon leaving the meeting The Gate felt like the winner. Since then I have spoken with everyone I have come across to seek their opinion - we even had a family bbq where we spent the whole evening randomly selecting words from the ether. This included names such as Level Up, Alice (as in Wonderland), Cipher, Star, Zero, Evolution, Quest. I googled the most common words in the English language to see if that would throw up anything, it didn’t, but the most common word is “the”. I cleverly thought of “No Name” as a possible company name. I then started thinking about the shortest word in the English language as a name and “i” featured for a few hours. At events I waited for divine inspiration to strike - and another word did appear - Totem. The new shortlist included Labyrinth, although I just had to google how to spell it so thats not a good sign. Then I began to just read words randomly sitting in the car, walking - Start, Stop, Drive, blah, blah, blah - its so hard.
Seeking people’s opinions has been useful but the problem is everyone’s opinion is different. Although two pieces of advice have stayed with me and they are “don’t use VR in the name” and “whatever name you do choose make sure you love it, it doesn’t matter what it is.”
So I was talking to a friend yesterday about choosing a name and he suggested blogging about it - everyone unfortunate enough to live with me is now sick of talking about this. Writing has helped and I do keep coming back to Neon. It was discovered as a Noble gas in 1898 and is the fourth most common element in the universe - 4 is my favourite number. Neon comes from the Greek word “neos” and means “something new” - hugely relevant for immersive tech innovation - heck how much more meaning do I need to find? The truth is I love the word Neon. I love what it stands for. I love its garish, seedy, rough but very cool image. I love that it doesn’t try to be anything else. I love that it lights up the darkest of spaces that have been abandoned and long forgotten. Neon will always be a friend. It also acts as a bridge which connects my old life to the new as I have created many pieces of public art in neon. Life is not a series of random detached events but rather one of organic growth where everything is connected and one activity has lead to another. For now this path leads to Neon the name of my new company.