Why I named my business after an animal with ass stripes
If you’ve ever poked around my website, which I highly encourage, you might have stumbled across my Frequently Asked Questions.
Two of the questions are dedicated to the name of my business: Okay, Okapi. (Had to be clear about that in case you forgot what website you were on.)
Let’s get those out of the way first.
What the hell is an okapi? And how the hell do you even pronounce that?
Okapi (oh-cop-ee): Only one of the coolest animals EVER. Aside from hippos and bunnies, of course. It's like a cross between a giraffe and a zebra. And an animal totally cool with being its badass self, ass stripes and all.
Okay. So why did you name your business after it?
Because Unique Unicorn Topped with Sprinkles and Fairy Dust was too long. And Unf*ckwithable Boss was taken.
Seriously (or as serious as I can get when discussing an okapi and how it inspired my business), I saw an okapi chilling at Animal Kingdom one day, looking all cool and calm. Before that, I'd been slightly obsessed with hybrid animals – like zonkeys and zebroids and...this just in, wholphins and grolar bears.
And my love spiraled out of control.
I thought about how subtly irreverent and totally comfy cozy being unique these okapis were. Which dovetailed nicely in to my whole mission to get people to be cool being them and finding their own unique voice.
Plus, my word nerd could not help the word play...copy...okapi...better than okay copy...you see?
Now that we’ve covered the basics, I thought it would be fun to go a bit more in depth on why I named my business after an animal with ass stripes. Because most people have no idea what an okapi is and probably think I’m this weird person on the internet making up words.
Which is true. But also…not. At least in this particular case.
So, without further ado, here’s a bit more background on my brand name.
My first business (ahem, health coaching) lacked some serious naming creativity.
The first iteration was just my name. Bo-oring. (For me. It’s actually a really good starting place, for what it’s worth.)
It was also a problem because…have you seen my name?! No one can pronounce it or spell it correctly. It was definitely unique but not the kind of unique I was looking for.
Luckily, a friend of mine came up with another name for me: Eat Clean in Your Cubicle. Much, much better.
I knew that I wanted something similar for my new business. But I wasn’t feeling incredibly inspired.
It wasn’t until that fateful day at Animal Kingdom that it all clicked into place like a seat belt that I bet the crash test dummies (the actual dummies, not the band) wish worked.
It was definitely not something that most people would even think to name their business.
Sure, sure, people name their businesses after animals all the time. Like, Greyhound, Puma, Dove, Burt’s Bees, Otter Box, Jaguar, Red Bull, Firefox, Original Penguin, Crocs, Monster, Caterpillar… You get the idea.
(Not to mention all the professional sports teams. You know, the Bulls. The Bears. The Dolphins. The Lions. And so on and so forth.)
But…okapis? Didn’t exactly have people clamoring to feature them front and center.
It’s a play on words.
When I looked up the proper pronunciation of this wonderfully weird creature, I discovered that it was oh-cop-ee (in phonetics…in proper pronunciation guides, you know, like a dictionary, it’s actually \ ō-ˈkä-pē.)
And then I felt inspired.
The type of business I was building was literally built RIGHT IN to the name of this animal.
What freakin’ luck.
But just naming my business Okapi wasn’t gonna cut it. Yes, it sounded cool and was already a play on words. But I wanted to, as they say, go big or go home.
So I let it simmer and stew for a minute.
And by a minute I literally mean a minute. The idea of Okay, Okapi sprang off my tongue before I’d even walked away from my new muse at the park.
It’s an expression of how some people feel when looking at their copy. Like, “Okay…oh, COPY!”
But it also leads into the idea of okay copy and creating better than okay copy. It’s harder to explain than I originally thought…but, trust me, it makes sense in my brain. 🙃
Like I said earlier, I DID NOT want a name that was descriptive. Like, “Copy Coaching with Tracie.” Or “Tracie’s Write.” Or “Write with Tracie."
Or something equally awful that I just blurted out as I was typing this.
(Arguably, those last two have a bit of a word play element to them…)
I wanted something that would stand out and be different and more creative.
Listen, I have had people tell me that they can’t remember my business’ name or that I should change it. But I’ve also had people totally get it and think of me when they saw an okapi at the zoo for the first time.
The latter are totally my people.
I’m not saying it’s a household name (obviously), but it’s not a name you can easily forget once you’ve heard it a few times. Like…Coaching with Tracie.
Barring that “ie” on there, how many businesses do you think would come up in a Google search for that?
(Okay, shockingly, Google returned 610,000 results when I searched for “coaching with Tracie.” And 22,000,000 when I misspelled Tracie with a “y.” Another 8,120,000 when it’s with an “ey.”)
It conveys my brand values and message.
Let’s be clear: Okapis are totally badass.
How many animals are completely cool and not concerned about rocking ass stripes? (Zebras don’t count. Those are full-body stripes.)
I’ve never spoken to an okapi (#goals), but I imagine they’re calm and collected and own the shit out of their unique, err, design. (Wikipedia confirms they are “generally tranquil.”)
They don’t seem to care that they look kind of like a zebra but are actually more closely related to a giraffe. (When did this turn into a lesson on the awesomeness of okapis?)
And a major tenant of Okay, Okapi is learning to be yourself in your writing and finding your voice.
I think the okapi pretty much encompasses both of those. There’s something fun and also kinda tongue-in-cheek about an animal WITH ASS STRIPES.
It doesn’t limit me.
If I were to go with a business name like, say, “Tracie’s Write,” there’s an immediate association with writing.
Sure, it doesn’t say what kind of writing, so I could theoretically expand (or contract) the kind of writing I’d offer under this brand name.
But it might be a bit of a stretch to offer editing or proofreading under that brand name. (A stretch, not not doable.)
I mean, I recently pivoted my business from copywriting to more coaching and editing, and I didn’t have to rebrand. I didn’t have to redo my name, my logo, my website, anything.
Using a more creative brand name allows me to use that brand name for whatever the hell I want.
I can offer new services. I can offer different services. I can make products. I can create courses. I can turn it into a blog. Or a book. Maybe a podcast.
And it doesn’t have to be limited to writing or copy.
(Yeah, okay, I’d miss out on that word play a little bit, but all the rest stays the same.)
That was a bit of a wobbly, windy origin story…perhaps I should turn it into something more compelling. Hmm. Another day.
But it still explains why I named my business after an endangered species that most people have never heard of or seen (thanks, Animal Kingdom, it makes me feel better for reluctantly supporting you). And hopefully gives you a few tips if you’re stuck on naming your business.
Remember: Make your brand name something that has meaning for you, that’s fun, that’s memorable, that’s unique, and that piques people’s curiosity. I’m totally partial to animal names, but get creative with it!
And let me know what you come up with. :) I wanna hear from you!