I was at an interview the other day with a prospective client. His first question had nothing at all to do with our work, our approach, or our qualifications. His first question was “How did you come up with the name Arcspace Studio?” I answered forthrightly with various reasons that popped into my head, but that moment was a bit of an epiphany – a name is not just important, it’s really important!
Traditionally, architecture firms are named after the partners, frequently in alphabetical order. Thus in 1998, when Greg Kamback and I founded our firm it was natural to land on the name Bird & Kamback Architects. When we decided to rebrand in 2019, the naming (or renaming) of the firm proved to be much more difficult. For me, it was the most difficult part of the rebranding process.
After exploring and discarding more names than imaginable, I noted that there were some words I was really drawn to. We are an architecture firm, so it seemed to me that this was a word that should be used. This word unfortunately has the drawback of being really long, especially when combined with other words. Space was a another word that I really wanted to use. At first I seriously considered the name Space Architects; however, this seemed to conjure up images of space stations rather than of buildings. Space has a double meaning for me. Obviously it is the primary medium of the art of architecture, but space also nods to my adopted home town. If you know anything about Huntsville you know that we are steeped in the space program. It began with Werner VonBraun and the space race and its influence is still with us. Evidence is visible through the Space & Rocket Center, NASA, Redstone Arsenal, and numerous other space related enterprises.
At some point it occurred to me to fuse the two words into one. I flirted with simply naming the firm ….. Arcspace. I also considered naming the firm Arcspace Architecture (although the redundancy sounded redundant). In both cases the names, and the domain names, were taken. I then considered Arcspace Atelier, Arcspace Firm, and Arcspace Studio. I really liked the alliteration of Arcspace Studio. Like some of my previous name ideas, I test drove the name past my wife, Greg, and a couple of friends. They all claimed to like it, and this time, without a pause. I finally had it!
Another benefit of the name Arcspace Studio is that it shows up at or near the beginning of lists arranged in alphabetical order. Being a “Bird”, I know the benefits of being at the front of the line. Arcspace Studio also sounds a lot better than A1 Architects. (Believe it or not that name is taken as well.)
Finally, I engaged my talented office manager/graphics guru Jennifer to help me advance the graphic identity of our name and marry it with our logo. After considerable effort we landed on the appropriate font, stroke thicknesses, and colors coordinating with the logo. We tweaked it even more through lining and kerning until we had a pairing of name and logo at a professional level.
Now, back to my interview story. After my wordy but seemingly insufficient explanation of my firm’s name, my prospective client thought and said, “Well, I like it. It’s memorable.” Nice. That’s all I needed to hear!
So, that is the story of our firm’s name and its integration into our brand’s identity. While I was pleased to have both the creation of the firm’s logo and the determination of the firm’s name resolved, there was another part of our brand’s identity still looming. I wanted a tagline. That too has a story….