What’s in the Name Brainmates?

When people first meet us and hear the name “Brainmates” they ask us what it means.

There are a number of answers to this question. One is a trivial answer and the other one is a little deeper.

In 2004, Adrienne decided to start a business that leveraged our years of experience in Product Management. We were faced with the first fundamental challenge that all businesses have to negotiate. What will the business be called?

Before the business was established it was difficult to know how to select a name that will remain meaningful as the business grows and changes over time. The types of product and service offerings that Brainmates offers has changed in the years since it began however we have always been focused on the ideals and benefits of delivering great Product Management.

Nurturing an idea.

Unfortunately, in many of my Product Management roles I have watched great ideas get crushed under the weight of corporate bureaucracy. It was easy to kill off ideas before they have been explored properly. Rather than building and developing an idea a multitude of reasons would be presented to undermine or block the new idea to death.

One of the ideals that I wanted this new business (Brainmates) to support was to provide new ideas a buddy or a friend to protect it through the harsh world it had been born into. In a recent article in the London Evening Standard Jonathan Ive (VP of industrial design at Apple) said about ideas:

“The nature of having ideas and creativity is incredibly inspiring. There is an idea which is solitary, fragile and tentative and doesn’t have form. What we’ve found here is that it then becomes a conversation, although remains very fragile.”

This was exactly the sense that I had about ideas so I wanted a business name to embody a protective friendship that would be able to help the idea grow and develop beyond that delicate fragile stage. So an “idea-friend” is the person who will support someone’s idea and protect it from the cruel corporate forces that would otherwise try to obliterate it from the world. An “idea-friend” would also seek to improve the ideas, to look for it’s weaknesses and strengthen them, and help the idea gain a foothold in the minds of other supporters.

While this “idea-friend” represented a higher level vision for the sort of activities we wanted to perform we were stuck with boring and obvious names such as “Adrienne and Nick Consulting”, or “The CosterTan Group” or other permutations of our names. While we are quite fond of our names combining them into a business name clearly sucked.

Over a couple of hot chocolates we then tried to think about what kind of relationship we wanted to offer potential clients.

Partnership and Intelligence.

The vision for the business was to be more than a contracting agency for experienced Product Management resources. We wanted to offer clients the opportunity to establish a longer term relationship with us and the business, so we listed all the words that reflected this ideal.

It has also been our nature to be prepared to listen to a situation, process the information and share both our analysis and opinion, rather than just emptily doing what we were told to do and or saying what people wanted to hear. We wanted any client of ours to be confident to know that any work that we do or outcomes that we arrive at are the result of careful thought and the desire to deliver the best outcome for them, even if it was not what they expected or wanted to hear. There were many concepts that this evoked (you can find them on our “Brainmates approach” page) but the one that stood out was that we wanted to provide intelligence to our clients.

Finding a Name:

The final challenge was to find a name that:

  1. Was legally available as business name in Australia
  2. Had an unregistered “com.au” domain name
  3. Was currently invisible in a Google search
  4. Didn’t suck

Surprisingly this last challenge was easy.

In on August the 4th 2004 Brainmates pty limited was incorporated.

brain: The source of ideas and intelligence.
mates: In Australia a ‘mate’ is a trusted friend who has your back in a fight and will tell you the truth without judgement.

This is what the Brainmates name means to us. What does it mean to you?