How Brooklyn Artisan Got Its Name

I KNOW WHAT A STRUGGLE it can be to name your business. When we named the parent company of Brooklyn Artisan, our first project – producing A Computer Dictionary for Kids and Other Beginners for Ballantine Books – was already well underway. Many clever, engaging, adorable, double-takeable, quotable and otherwise wonderful company names occurred to us. But when we searched trademarks, of course the best were taken. Hmm,  what to do. Finally we called the company after that number-one project by using the first letters in the computer keyboard: Qwerty Communications, Inc. Although a little cute, it was a natural name for a creator of books and magazines and, very soon, online content creation, too.

We quickly learned that the titles fastest out of the gate didn’t have to be explained, they explained themselves. The Brides Guide, New York Lawyer, the Art of Simple Living, Target Family Health — examples from our magazine and web work for such notables as Scientific American, Parents, aarp.org, Consumer Reports, New York Law Journal, space.com, Storey Books, Scholastic, Opryland, Ms. and Family Circle. A literal, even prosaic, name gains strength from being clear what it’s about. Sturdiest of all is for the title to be the name of the market.

As a blog name Brooklyn Artisan passed on both scores. It is both for and about the creators of small and micro businesses. We tell their stories and showcase their products in news and features. On the business side, we tackle the thorny problems common to artisanal businesses, practicing our favorite brand of service journalism for the community here and artisanal cousins elsewhere.

There are exceptions to the Literal Name Rule, of course. The author of that original Qwerty computer dictionary, Brooklyn Artisan contributor David Fay Smith, is also a woodworker. He makes dovetailed Shaker-style stepstools with personalized labels as wedding gifts for special friends. Many urge him to go into business selling the handsome and useful stools. If he does – as Joy Makon, who edits the Crafts & Design segment of Brooklyn Artisan, points out with a smile – he’ll need a creative rather than a literal name for his business, since he really shouldn’t call it…David’s Stools.

– Anne Mollegen Smith, Editor & Publisher

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