Agency or Indie Band?

March 5, 2017 / Business

Last week I was having a beer with a friend who’s starting a marketing agency. We begin talking about the business and services he’s planning to offer.

Having spent time in the agency world, I had to ask an important question—what’s the name?

He hadn’t settled on it yet, but wanted something related to growth. He also liked goats so, Growth Goat was what he was going with for the time being.

I’ve spent a couple years working in advertising. When I worked at Red Square, we used to contract with dozens of smaller agencies. They would often have a specialty that we didn’t have in-house resources for.

As a producer I did a lot of the vetting. I’d be the one deciding what agency to contract. I looked at past work, asked them about capabilities—it was all standard stuff.

We had another internal standard—one that we often joked about. A good agency would have a name that was indistinguishable from a 90s indie band.

We never disqualified any agency for their name, but during my tenure almost every agency we worked with met that standard. Here are a few of the agencies we worked with:

You get the idea.

We did have an exception. If the agency existed before 2000, they wouldn’t have had a plethora of awesome band names for inspiration.

Often older agencies would take the name of their charismatic founders. See Ogilvy, Edelman and Wiedan + Kennedy.

At this point we’re both several beers in. I thought it would be an ideal time to start brainstorming names for this new marketing agency.

The gears of creativity are turning!

Where did we begin? I took out my phone and searched “90s indie bands.” Then I pulled my notebook out of my backpack and began writing things down. Here are ideas from my brainstorm session:

  • Something Fancy
  • Fancy People
  • Internet Stars
  • Little Big Stuff
  • Little Big
  • Tiny Giant Things
  • Tiny Big Things
  • Tiny Giants – Boom, definitely my favorite. Juxtaposition FTW.
  • Colossally Small
  • Absolutely, Yes
  • The Idea Brothers
  • Absolutely Colossal
  • Tiny and Magnificent
  • Won’t Stop
  • Big Trouble
  • The Weekend – Not a 90s band, but it will pass.
  • Next Weekend
  • Last Weekend
  • Wednesday
  • Drinks on Me
  • Drinks on You
  • Somewhat Magnificent – Love this, but it’s a little long.
  • Something Important
  • Possibly Colossal
  • Skyscraper
  • Cool Heads
  • Cartel Cartel
  • The Best of Times

Not bad? There’s a few in there I particularly like: Tiny Giants, Big Trouble, Last Weekend.

We discuss this list. He’s not impressed. He goes back to Growth Goat and says he wants to convey a sense of growth.

Fair criticism. I jot down a couple themes that could serve as a metaphor for growth. One of them is plants.

Can we apply the indie band rule to plant-themed names?

  • The Gardeners – Meh.
  • The Landscapers
  • Shovels & Hoes – A lot of room for misinterpretation.
  • Shovels & Trowels
  • Supergrass – Actually, the name of a band.
  • Superweed – Probably my favorite on this list.
  • Supergrow
  • Sprinkler
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe – Like watermelon, but sounds fancier.
  • Like a Weed
  • Beanstalk – My favorite, but apparently this is the name of another agency.
  • In the Middle
  • Plant Food
  • Growth Works – Sounds more like a place, but whatever.
  • Grow Work Grow

There are a few decent ones on this list. I like Superweed, Beanstalk and Plant Food.

I don’t know if he was as enthusiastic as I was. I guess we’ll see if I’ve got a future as a copywriter. In either case, my bill is in the mail.

Rules for Naming an Agency

  1. Warm up by using the “Agency or Indie Band” rule.
  2. Come up with a few words or feelings that you want to convey. This will be your theme. The example used here is growth > plants/gardening.
  3. Build on that by brainstorming concepts that meet the Agency or Indie Band rule and relate to your theme words.
  4. Profit.