What is the importance of a name? In the time of Napoleon, around 1811-1812, it was mandatory to confirm or adopt an official family name. However, it is a misunderstanding that we owe our surnames to Napoleon. Before his time, the Netherlands already had been developing an unofficial system for surnames. Even then, a first name wasn’t enough to differentiate someone, so additions were given to clarify the person (also called patronymic).
But in which way do you make clear which Jan you mean? Simply, by adding the name of the father, the place of the residence or the profession of the person. Jan Willemsen (Willem’s son), Jan van Es, and Jan Bakker were born. But you probably can guess what question is coming next: How do you distinguish 5 Jan’s who are from Es? At the beginning of the 17th century, more and more families began to determine distinctive surnames and notify the municipality. Napoleon was the one who made it compulsory.
Well, the last name has a clear function: make a distinction between all the Eduards who are around this world. There is only one Eduard Schaepman, but there are about 14,000 men having the same first name. But how does this work for a company? How important is a company name? A good name can make THE difference between success and failure! A few years ago, I had to make an important decision. How do I name our innovative flexible working concept? What few people know is that I had named Tribes Inspiring Workplaces almost 'Faceplace'. I was struggling with some elements because I wanted a catchy name, which would make clear what the concept is, but also keeps hanging. Tribes is a flexible working concept but what is very important is that we are able to facilitate meetings between people. An inspiring place to look each other in the eyes, a home for the community, for the members of the 35th Tribe.
Still, I wasn’t completely convinced and started a long brainstorm session with Jasper. In the end, we were acting a little bit crazy, when Jasper laughed: ‘Eduard, we have to call it by its name. Just like your ancestors did, they were sheep herders, right?’
That’s when the penny dropped. My ancestors were also innovative: Schaepman, a reference to the profession, with an extra touch of creativity to make the name distinctive, so he quickly attracts attention. So my brainchild should be ‘just a workplace’, with the function of it added: Inspiring Workplaces. Of course in English, because we already knew back then that we wouldn’t stay in the Netherlands. After all, a real nomad travels the world. There was one last detail missing and while a Hamar man from Ethiopia from a large canvas stared at Jasper and me, the name of our concept became clear. Tribes Inspiring Workplaces.
That was just the beginning of course. The promise of the name has to be delivered, with a brilliant team, a good organization, and great locations. As Shakespeare said: ‘What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”