Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. And when it comes to naming your first business, all the market research in the world won’t be enough information to help you confidently complete that blank on the business application. It just has to feel right.
Rewind four years ago to a dining room table, a wall full of sticky notes, and my future first team member. We had countless combinations of last names, first names, hip words, ampersands, plus signs, and other inventions, organized in tidy clusters.
I was driven to find something that was both uniquely personal and bigger than myself. Uniquely personal because I planned on pouring my whole self into this endeavor. Bigger than me because I knew our long-term success depended on earning trust well beyond my own professional relationships. At the end of an emotional day, we wrapped up without a front runner for a name – just a few worn sticky notes that maybe, kind of, sort of had some potential.
But as is so often the case with the creative process, our ideas just needed a little time to marinate.
When the name Middle of Six came into focus, I couldn’t shake it from my vision. Admittedly, there were a few analytical types that strongly advocated for a safer option using my name. I understood their guidance. Yet I wanted to build a team of creative, fierce, focused, entrepreneurial-types, and I couldn’t imagine them inspired to join “Simmons Consulting, Inc”.
Honestly, what Middle of Six literally means is far less important than the creativity it inspires or the inevitable discussion it provokes. My smile widens every time a new client wraps up a meet and greet with, “Just one more question. What the heck is the Middle of Six?” I quickly tell them that I’m the middle child in a family of six and I’ve been saying that phrase since I was in grade school. If I were cool enough to be in a band, it would have had an awesome name.
But then we get to the good stuff. No one can resist sharing their theories. I’ve laughed at and pondered over so many entertaining concepts. I’ve argued with engineers who insist it is mathematically impossible to have a “middle” of six. I’ve enjoyed philosophical journeys with architects who argued that there absolutely is a middle. Cleverly, I’ve been asked if I’m a twin. I’ve heard brilliant ideas that I wish I would have thought of myself and on just one occasion, someone got it right in the first five seconds. I’ve built instant connections with the Middle of Fours, Fives, and other Sixes.
And once someone admitted, “My wife said I couldn’t leave this meeting without getting the backstory on Middle of Six.”
The name has become a bit of a Rorschach Test. But don’t worry, we are not reading into it much. The discussion supports the process of understanding the perspectives of our clients and project partners. It is a memorable piece of our brand and an open invitation to start a creative conversation.
And in the end, isn’t that an impressive accomplishment for a simple business name?
The Middle of Six circa 1987 (clockwise from top right) Sherry, Suzie, Jimmy, Wendy, Eric, Mom, and Scotty.