Your Kid Needs a Name. Your Blog Might Not.


Because sometimes the best name is no name.*

When Brainly, a tech-sector client, decided to launch a blog, they asked me to brainstorm some ideas for a name and a general strategy. Brainly was new in the market and wanted to control the initial messaging of their product by showing off their mission, community, partnerships, and research. Naming is good fun, but I also worried that a named blog might present itself as a brand of its own, making a demand on audiences to acquaint themselves with two new brands rather than a single one. I offered the four suggestions listed below, but also made a firm case for leaving the blog unnamed (an uneasy thing to do, since it meant I would have to bill the client for copy that didn't exist). In the end, Brainly agreed. The winning name was no name at all.


Orbium refers to the astronomical treatise where Copernicus first proposed his heliocentric theory of the universe. Orbium is Latin for “spheres,” “orbits,” or “planets,” and at once invokes the shape of the human head and the vast planetary motion of the solar system, pointing both inward to thought and outward to big, universal possibilities. Orbium also nods to Brainly's Polish roots; the company began in Krakow and maintains an office there, and Copernicus was both Polish and Krakow-educated.


Headway suggests progress, but also recalls the Brainly brand by invoking the head and the brain. It most immediately calls to mind the phrase “making headway,” a process of leveraging labor and collaboration against the impossible. But as a play on words, it suggests a way-of-the-head, or a particular path or route forward that opens up when the head, the mind, or human thought takes the lead. The name Headway would bring the blog’s content into perspective as a kind of ongoing, energetic progress.


Volta suggest electrical voltage—the animating force of the brain and of ideas—while also describing a powerful turn toward meaning. In poetry, the volta is the point at which a poem, usually a sonnet, turns or shifts toward its purpose, where the work of reading the poem lands in a kind of emotional and intellectual payoff. Volta marks the blog as a point of arrival, where Brainly’s vast social and pedagogical experiment pays off in real-world applications.


Flux invokes fluidity, changeability, motion, and energy. In physics, flux  describes a vector quantity—the magnitude and direction of a flowing substance. It is an energetic outflow, and in the context of the blog it suggests an outpouring stream of ideas, discoveries, and possibilities.


* Exceptions include roads, non-fish pets, most children, and (in my opinion) abstract visual art.

David Jones