what's in a name? and what's a sequoia anyway?

July 24th marks the one year anniversary of in a sequoia. To mark the occasion, I'm sharing the hows, whys and whats behind this business with intention every Friday leading up to the big event. Today is the story of designing the brand and bringing it all together.

If you're in the Vancouver area, be sure to celebrate in person at Growing Taller.

At this stage, a wicked product was beginning to take shape. I was gaining the confidence to charge for my coaching because I began to understand the value in it. True to my coaching practices, I routinely envisioned what kind of a business I saw myself having built in ten years. Just as in our individual goal setting, knowing what I wanted to work towards was critical in understanding what I needed to create today for my business.

This part of the story doesn't have much action in it at all. It was actually just a lot of sitting and thinking. I'd scan Pinterest daily because visuals inspire me so much. I'd check out other women who had built business similar to what I was aiming to achieve, such as Marie Forleo (who was also a great resource for practical tools, ideas and ways of approaching business) or Danielle LaPorte. I knew how I wanted my business to make others feel. I knew what services and products I wanted to offer. Now it was time to answer the hard questions.

Who exactly are my ideal customers?

What are the values of my business?

Why will my customers decide to work with me rather than my competitors?

But the hardest of all,

What will I name this business, which is still a vague-feeling idea in my head?

Names are fairly vital to any brand. And they rarely come easy. To the public, your name is a word or phrase that will be the first introduction of your brand, the reminder of what your brand represents, and is a recall for how your brand makes them feel. They need to be easy and memorable. Or you can do what I did and pick a name that seems to make no sense, seems to have no connection to what you do and generally confuses those who first meet it. Because I've never been one to do things the "right" way.

I struggled for weeks to think of a name, any name, that spoke to me. Your business is your baby, so your name not only has to follow the rules that please the public, but holds some meaning to you as well. In the end, I came up with very little and what I did have was really bad. I felt stuck, unable to move forward until I had something to call this thing I wanted so badly to come to life.

I then remembered the sequoia tree (pronounced si-kwoi-uh). They're large redwoods found in California and a little bit of Oregon. Actually, they are the largest living trees on Earth. Part of the reason is because they entwine their roots together in order to grow taller and stronger. They thrive as a community. They symbolize living the best life you can, achieving your goals and pushing yourself to new places. I saw so much of what I wanted to build represented in the lives of sequoia trees.

Now came some word play. The idea of living a life like a sequoia tree rolled around in my head so often, and I wanted to incorporate that idea in my name. The image of living in a big tree-house perched in a sequoia popped in and out as I brainstormed. I wrote random words and phrases on post-it note after post-it note until in a sequoia came out of my pen. When I wrote it, the logo instantly came to my mind and I felt the familiar chill up my spine. A chill that's always told me when I am on the right path. As a creative, I've learned to listen to my gut.

Once I had the name, answers to the important questions began to fall into place. The brand's vision gained more clarity in my mind and in my work. I began to complete tasks that actually created a business, like building the website. Every step in building a business is critical, but these steps felt exciting because I had moved past the point of thinking and ideating. Past the point of hypothesis and testing product. Past practicing my coaching. Past feeling like I'm just pretending. They were tangible. I was finally doing.

I started slow. A simple web design whose main focus was on the blog. Okay, really it was just a blog with the notice that a "boutique" (remember when I had a boutique?) and events were coming soon. And I wrote without quite knowing what people wanted to read about yet. Even though I considered the brand "open for business", I was still actively listening and learning. I know I had a lot of room to grow and would make a lot of changes as I went. I knew the brand would evolve.

And I'm still learning. I'm still growing. Things are still changing. But I had to start somewhere. So on July 24th, 2014 I started. And I am so grateful I did.

Megan te Boekhorst