-in 2005 I was being asked by my business manager for a name of the new company he was helping me create...
You see, jobs were getting bigger and things were scaling beyond the normal freelance status. You know: liability, workers compensation insurance. taxes. hiring people. buying equipment. real life grown up stuff.
Names are hard for me: they need to be great, they are hard to change. They evolve into their own thing.
Overwhelmingly I feel like the good names are gone already!
A mentor once told me that if he could go back in time he would not have named his company after himself. He said it was short sighted and once he gained a team of people he felt strange because it was bigger than just him and the name didn't reflect that! Even now that he has sold the company they kept the name! So I guess he did something right [tbh he does most things right!]
I have always had trouble coming up with names: it is just not my thing. The things I like and enjoy outside of the business are not name influencers. I couldn't call it "Walter Payton Designs" after all! I don't think people would hire "Vespas, Coffee, Computers and Associates" for their show! I didn't want to become one the the 3 letter faceless entities out there.
[apologies to the 3 letter entities]
With the biz filing paperwork ready for submittal, the last thing was the name! And I was stuck.
I was watching a band at The Empty Bottle, a venue on Chicago's north side. Walking out onto Western Ave. after the show something caught my eye on the ground.
It was a 1” pin back button. Those little buttons you always see the cool kids with.
They make simple little statements. Slogans. Thought provoking stuff. Clever things that make you pause and think.
It must have fallen off someones jacket.
It said “ so midwest."
See I’m from here. We live here. We like it here. Amongst the challenges we choose to stay and do it. right here in chicago.
I had one of those "in the moment" things.
So… I went for it.
Years later, looking back, it is kind of.... weird, right?
It never fails to require an explanation!
And the explanation goes:
It is not a slight to any other place. We work everywhere. worldwide.
It makes zero sense outside of the USA. So Midwest of.... Russia? Europe? What?
But people seem to dig it. Its gimmicky. Its memorable. It says something about here and us.
When your west coast content firm is out surfing or beating traffic at 3pm we are buried by 20ft of snow and inside working, on your project! JK. Its only 10ft of snow.
After all, in time I've learned that it is just a name, a billing identity, really.
[ I learned my lesson 3 letter companies, and people do sometimes abbreviate it as SMW!!!]
But it is also much more than that, really.
From starting our first office out of the house in 2016, adding our first full time employee in 2017 and bringing on a design partner in 2021 the growth has been amazing , fun and challenging!
But we are loving making this thing our own! The best part is:
We get to make art while collaborating with fun clients and artists.
And that really is the best part.
So that rules, right?
So Middle Coast? Third Coast? It is a big lake!
So Why Not? So we are: