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What do you think of "Words Like Notes"?
November 25, 2009 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I have tentatively given my freelance editing and design business the name Words Like Notes. What do you think of it?

I am creating a name and website for my freelance editing and print layout/design business. I would like to have a name that is not just my name, but which covers the different types of work I do (editing, writing, layout, and some translation) and gives a sense of the style I aim for - light and refined, yet professional.

The name I have been going with is Words Like Notes. I like the sound of it, but I realize that it is not a straightforward name, and I'm concerned that it will just confuse people.

What is your reaction to the name? Does it convey anything? Does it turn you off? Do you have any suggestions regarding how to use the name, or modify it, or replace it altogether? Thanks!
posted by jlhopes to Writing & Language (21 answers total)
 
I find it confusing and not appealing. I have no idea what your business does, and I'm not curious enough to try to figure it out.
posted by decathecting at 6:17 AM on November 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


It's too ambiguous; my first thought was 'Does this mean that words like notes, or that words are like notes?'. My second thought was 'Musical notes? Notes on pieces of paper? Bank notes?'. It took me several seconds of confusion before I decided it was comparing words with musical notes, and I'm still not entirely certain that I'm right.

A clever play on words can make a good business name, but this is just confusing. Maybe something like 'A Symphony of Words' would convey the meaning in a more straightforward way.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:18 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


'Does this mean that words like notes, or that words are like notes?'

There is a third possibility that was my first thought: "Words such as 'notes'".

My honest thought is that the right name, despite what you say in your post, is "YourFirstName YourLastName: Editing, Layout, Design", but while I do work in a roughly affiliated field I don't know enough about freelance editing and design to know if this is really best.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:27 AM on November 25, 2009


To me, it conveys they idea that you are able to craft prose so beautiful that it's nearly music.

It doesn't communicate anything about what you do, though.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2009


My initial, split-second reaction: Microsoft Word meets Lotus Notes. Not a pleasant association.

My second reaction: it sounds like the name of a blog, maybe one about the lost art of letter-writing and stationery, or one dedicated to especially pretty prose, and probably a blog that I'd find too pretentious to read at that.

It doesn't really convey editing to me, and it says nothing at all about design.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


My first reaction was that I "saw" it wrong so I needed to read it again. Then I wondered in what context "notes" was being used, or how words could ever be like notes, etc..
posted by marimeko at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2009


Second decathecting. I thought "What?" and then "No, thank you."
posted by kmennie at 6:59 AM on November 25, 2009


It sounds very cute.

Cute is not what I'm looking for in editing and design services.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


It sounds unprofessional.

If you want "to have a name that is not just my name, but which covers the different types of work I do (editing, writing, layout, and some translation)", why not:

Your Name: Writing, Design, and Translation

?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:22 AM on November 25, 2009


You're in a slightly odd position here. On one hand, you do editing and writing. On the other, you do layout and design. A design business can often get away with a flowery business name; a writer/editor should really be trying to communicate technical proficiency.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2009


It makes me think you're a Greg Brown fan. Which is great, but doesn't really seem like a great business name, especially for editing.

In fact, when I try to force literary meaning onto it, instead of a "your prose is musical" kind of meaning, I end up thinking you're taking perfectly good words/prose and scribbling them down in secretary short-hand.

I'm terrible at naming things, though, so I can't really offer a better suggestion.
posted by aimedwander at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2009


Thanks, all - these comments have been super helpful. Clearly, it's not a good name, and I'm glad to find that out now. Perhaps I will just try using my name as a couple of people suggested.
posted by jlhopes at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2009


OK, it's clunky in some ways, and there are some possible awkward associations (Word, Lotus Notes), but I have to disagree with the people who seemingly insist that company names must be mundane, literal and generic. Amazon wouldn't be better off called Cheap Books And Other Stuff.

So while there are some problems with Words Like Notes, if it does genuinely suit you, your work and the type of clients you want (something we can't accurately judge without knowing more) then it may be a perfectly good name to use. My gut reaction is that it conveys some refinement in a slightly cutesy way, I certainly wouldn't find it confusing or unprofessional though.
posted by malevolent at 7:54 AM on November 25, 2009


It sounds like a band name, not that that's a bad thing. Side project?
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2009


My first thought was that it sounded like a hipster's blog.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2009


I like non-mundane names, but Words Like Notes makes me lisp inside. And I didn't understand it *at all* until I read this page. For me, "notes" is also writing or a document. Maybe you can use the same sentiment, but come up with a different name?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2009


Could you use Your Name: Writing, Design, and Translation, and then use it just as a subtitle on your cards and site?

I use My Business Name: What I Create, and then I have a little "a special place for a special pet" as a subtitle. Then again, I need my business to be warm and comforting, not capable and businesslike.

not that it is not capable and business like, but that is not my image focus.
posted by Vaike at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2009


I have to disagree with the people who seemingly insist that company names must be mundane, literal and generic.

I am not such a person, yet I find the suggested name unintelligible and unappealing. The poster has made the right choice.
posted by languagehat at 11:22 AM on November 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Probably too late here, but if it helps, the problem probably stems from the double sense of "like" -- I get confused about what the "like" means, and then I go off the rails.

Oddly, the whole thing is resolved (for me) and it becomes much clearer and kinda pretty with the addition of our friend the comma:

Words, Like Notes

which resolves both the "like" problem and goes a fair way to resolving the ambiguity of "notes" by turning it into part of a simile. It's an easy leap for somebody to imagine this is the beginning of a longer passage that talks about how words are like musical notes: beautiful in the hands of the skilled, and dissonant and awful in the hands of those who don't know how to put them in the right order.

You could still parse the "notes" as something other than musical notes, but it gets a lot harder to figure out a simile in which somebody is comparing words to brief missives.

An ellipsis would punch up that "part of a quote" element even more, but I think it gets a bit too artsy-fartsy for me.

Words, Like Notes...

Enh. Yeah, a bit too cheesy for me.

THAT being said, it still sells you as probably a mediocre poet, possibly an editor, almost definitely not a designer. So for you, probably still a bad fit, but not totally without merit and you shouldn't feel bad for liking it.
posted by Shepherd at 1:49 PM on November 25, 2009


I have to disagree with the people who seemingly insist that company names must be mundane, literal and generic. Amazon wouldn't be better off called Cheap Books And Other Stuff.

Sorry, but this is a bad analogy. I work with freelance editors and designers all the time in my line of work. I can assure you, the way freelancers need to brand themselves to get our business is entirely different from the way major third-party vendors can brand themselves. Seriously, there's just no comparison.
posted by scody at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2009


Just had this discussion today, about freelancing and having a named 'business' and suddenly realized that I, too, need a 'name' for my freelancing work.

When someone asked me this morning what I do, I answered "I do freelance XYZ". A close friend who overheard the interaction pointed out that "freelance" can often read as a euphemism for "between jobs" or "unemployable".

Instead, being able to say, "I started/founded/run a small practice/company/whatever that provides XYZ..." is much more impressive.

In that sense, therefore, you would want a named company, even if it's just Firstname Lastname, Inc.

(Also helpful for when you start subcontracting/hiring...).

In any case, I'm about to begin the same process, so am curious to keep tabs on you're decisions and how you end up wherever you do on this.

[As for the original question, I agree that "Words Like Notes" is much too kittens and rainbows and myspace.com for my tastes]
posted by prophetsearcher at 1:08 PM on November 26, 2009


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