Tuesday, April 17, 2012

RavelUnravel Naming

A blog-post by Drew Davies, owner of Oxide Design Co. 

(Click here to visit the Oxide Design Co. blog)

At Oxide, we end up doing a lot of corporate naming (Plum Root, Keen Guides, Metro Transit) and product naming (d’olivo, Mountees, Bench Marks) projects. It’s a fascinating and challenging tangent to the world of traditional identity design. It turns out that human nature tends to be even more subjective regarding words than we are with visuals.

So even more so than with logos, often times with naming even if you find what is objectively a great solution it just “doesn’t sound quite right” to the people in charge of the decision. (Additionally, the modern naming process is now complicated by the need to find a suitable URL.) Luckily, we recently had the opportunity to work with Project Interfaith collaborating on what turned out to be a perfect name solution.


Oxide has worked with Project Interfaith on a pro bono basis since the organization’s inception. About a year ago, they started talking to us about an initiative that’s poised to be a very successful program. Initially, the project was called “Community Mosaic Video Project” — but early on in the conversation it was decided that a more compelling, dynamic (and shorter) name would better serve the endeavor.

The project in question is an “interactive, online program that puts a human face on religious and cultural diversity and exposes the tremendous variety of beliefs and practices within religious and spiritual identity groups, thereby transforming the way users understand and converse about religious and cultural diversity.” Specifically, it will allow users to watch, share, and create video interviews answering a set of four basic questions about religious and spiritual identity.


Oxide interviewed all the members of the Project Interfaith staff, as well as their communications committee, and their collection of dedicated interns. We talked through everyone’s naming ideas, and worked to determine the key concepts that a name would need to convey. We discussed onions, mosaics, d√©coupage, and other layered and multi-faceted analogies.

The deeper we looked into this project, the more we were drawn towards the metaphor of weaving a tapestry from many different threads. We believe the most interesting aspect of the project is exploring the complexity of people and their individual faiths. (Rather than needing a name that focuses on the specific delivery method – video – or trying to describe where the people are from — community.)


We spent a lot of time with words like thread, tapestry, loom, weave, yarn, fabric, and the like, attempting to find something both appropriate and also unique. And then we uncovered a concept that nails the “multiple woven threads” idea and also perfectly captures the very deep complexities of creating dialogue about interfaith issues and identity: Ravel / Unravel.

This name builds off the concept of pairing ravel (the idea of weaving something together) and unravel (to disentangle, or to solve a mystery). It also has a much deeper level of complexity in that the words are simultaneously synonyms and antonyms.

We believe the pairing is the perfect metaphor for the ongoing discussion about personal faiths, as the dialogue is in a constant cycle of weaving people’s stories together to unscramble mysteries — which in turn creates a new set of threads for weaving and completely new conundrums to solve.

We handed the name off to the skilled team at Secret Penguin, who has developed the identity and is hard at work on the complete website. The initiative is scheduled to launch online on 17 May 2012 at ravelunravel.com. We’re excited to see the final product unveiled by Beth Katz and the Project Interfaith team!

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