What’s in a name? Shakespeare convincingly sold us on the idea that a rose called by any other name would smell as sweet. True? Who am I to disagree with the Bard himself? Here’s what I do know, though, selecting a name for your business is an essential aspect of your brand identity.
When I was thinking about this blog, it occurred to me not a lot of people know exactly what Tabula Rasa means. In Latin, it means blank slate but it also – and perhaps as famously – is defined as the human mind having no innate ideas. For my purpose, it means blank slate. That’s exactly what I was looking for when I decided to build a business around freelance writers, editors, and bloggers to help small businesses.
To be honest, I was toying with just White Paper, Red Pen since that’s essentially what we do as writers and editors. I tossed the idea out to my inner circle, and my younger sister came back with Tabula Rasa. White Paper, Red Pen was supposed to be the tag but the state of New Jersey had other ideas. That’s how we got our name.
I am more than Ok with it since we all come with some baggage – professional as well as personal – when we move into a new venture. The idea is to shed it and start over again with a clean, or a blank slate. That’s what we like to bring to our clients – a knowledge of what’s been done before but a blank slate to create their unique vision. You can’t do that until you move off the white paper.
Keep the good stuff
A lifetime ago, when I was working in the nuclear industry, I had to write a press release for a minor incident. It was universally panned – even though it stuck to just the facts. I was devastated but a senior communications manager said to me “sometimes the finest work you can deliver is getting the client off the white page. They don’t always know what they want but they always know what they don’t want or like.”
It’s been awhile since I’ve dusted off that sage advice but over the years those words have resounded with me when I’ve been completely at a loss for words or ideas. It’s hard to find a writer who doesn’t have a little bit of an ego but I tell clients all the time “it doesn’t offend me if you don’t like something; sometimes you have to just get off the white paper.” The reality is not knowing what you like is sometimes better than knowing what you do like. Through the years, I’ve worked with clients who clung so tightly to their original script that they missed opportunities and worked harder at playing catch-up then needed.
Be true to who you are as a person
We’re beach-loving writers, editors and bloggers who believe there is nothing more cleansing than a day at the beach (understanding the logo a little better, eh?). I still write in the sand by the water’s edge to see it erased by the tide. It’s part of who I am; who I’ve always been. That doesn’t change when you clean your slate. My advice to clients is the same advice I give myself: keep what you like and leave the rest.
Every day is an opportunity to start fresh with a blank slate. You don’t need to wait until something epic happens. For a lot of professionals, a blank slate is scary because they believe it eradicates all the hard work that came before. That’s only true if they want it to be true.
There’s this idea – I don’t know where it comes from – that to start over you should unlearn or leave behind what once was. Sometimes, a blank slate is the willingness to see something from a different perspective and incorporate that into your vision.