What’s in a name?

I smile sometimes at the names of some stroke support groups. Not being critical – but I think you make a choice between punchy and ambiguous, and between precise and a mouthful. I never really managed to get a happy medium.

For example, around here the groups include the Onward Club and The Forward Club. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising either of these groups or their names. Onward and Forward – those are directions in which we all want to move, surely?

In that, though, lies the rub. Unfortunately, neither name conveys anything about stroke without further digging.

I must admit when I struggled with this problem myself, I jumped the other way. Salisbury Stroke Support Group. The plus is that it described the nature of the group quite well. We should probably have had the word “peer” in there somewhere too. But all this has a minus, basically the name was a total mouthful, “peer” or not. Imagine typing all that into a web browser, say.

Our name was christened when the local coordinator for the stroke charity offered to get some flyers printed. In the end, that never happened, but it set us thinking. If we got the flyers printed, they would need to conform to an existing template. But at the time, we had nothing, so I thought “so what”. It didn’t stop other people criticising the template, but, in the end it boiled down to whether we wanted the leaflets or not.

The template required us to think of a name for the group. From experience, thinking up the name is the hardest part of any project! I was at a loss, although I did think we should have a name which went some way to conveying what we were. I was guided by a friend of mine, who was involved in a support group over in Essex. Harlow Stroke Support Group. If it could work in Harlow, why not Salisbury?

So, Salisbury Stroke Support Group was my suggestion. I took this to the group and it was agreed although with little interest. If we talked about the group previously, it was just to refer to it as the “Playhouse coffee group” or something. I didn’t think we could use that as a title, so argued against it in favour of something else. No arguments.

In the end, the leaflet offer fell through, but the cost of a few leaflets was so trivial that I ploughed on and designed something myself. I was lucky in that, being computer-literate, I was familiar with how to approach such a task. It took a bit of time, but not much. But, of course if you come up with any kind of flyer, you need to call yourself something, so I stuck with the name.

Anyway, that was the history. Somebody did criticise the name later, but I just told they that changing the name would be fine by me, but if they wanted to print leaflets, they’d need to pay for that. And I’d happily tweak the web site, but they’d need to pay for renting a new domain name. Never heard another peep. But, of course, we ended up with a mouthful. I wonder if things might have been different, if we’d adopted a punchy name?