Thursday, April 26, 2012

'Books' or no 'Books'. Advice please blog friends.

I am always wrestling with the idea of re-branding. Sounds a bit serious doesn't it. I mean it's not like I'm Sainsbury's or anything. But it certainly would be a pain in the bum, when I think of everything I'd have to do, website, blog, shops (all 5 of them), logo, all my cards, my business cards, getting the message across to anyone who's ever bought anything, pinned anything, visited my blog....ahhh, when i think about it it does my head in. I wish I'd known when I set up my etsy shop that my little wooden books would end up being about 5% of my stock.

That's the main gripe I have, that I have the word 'books' in my name, and it's not really that relevant anymore. And your name - your brand - should reflect what you do, or at the least, not be confusing! Tell me the truth, do you look at my brand name and think "why the heckins is she called mrs eliot books?" or do you not even notice?

(By the way if you don't know why the heckins I'm called mrs eliot books, it is explained here.)

The least confusing thing to do would be just to take 'books' out of the title. But then who is mrs eliot? Having 'mrs' in the title has always seemed a bit old and fusty, and that's the last thing I want to be.
Or there is just 'Eliot'. But why? 

I have other ideas, my original t'shirt designer's name 'lovesunday'. But my old domain has been bought by a church, and the .com costs a fortune. Or should I just gradually steer everything towards my name Francesca Iannaccone, and just think of my shops as being called Mrs Eliot Books?

I'm confused. Please give me some advice. x

p.s. this post is way too text-heavy so here are some pics taken by Isi, while I was working the other day. He wants to be a photographer like Peter Parker aka Spiderman. (I'm wondering if that's a bit of mint aero wrapper in my scarf. Probably.)

In action!


  1. Ooh thats a tough one! I suppose I don't notice the 'books' because I know where it originates from, but Mrs Eliot would look a bit odd I think...I know what you mean about rebranding though, I get bored so easily and change things, like now for instance my book of stickers from now don't match my new look but I dont want to waste them! So I suppose it depends on finding the new 'right' name for your brand and also how much it would cost to reprint and redesign everything! I personally like you just the way you are!x

  2. I know you dilemma Miss Fran... but to be honest I don't associate 'Mrs Elliot Books' as a name with your older work as I used to when I first got to know your wooden blocks.

    Saying that, when I see one of your gorgeous new prints I think to myself 'that's on of Fran's designs' rather than Mrs Elliot Books.

    I do like the idea of re-branding under your own name and maybe keeping 'Mrs Elliot Books' as line name for your woodblocks much the same way as you have 'lovesunday' and 'offshoot'.

    Good luck... !

  3. This is a really interesting question Fran; 'branding' yourself involves such a complex set of decisions, and by the very nature of creativity you and your work are bound to evolve in unexpected directions.

    When I decided on the name of my blog, which will also be my business name when I have the time to actually put the work in to set it up, I decided to be quite literal. I now notice that lots of blogs and their associated shops have odd, interesting and quirky names that aren't obviously related to the things they blog about or sell. Now I think maybe my online 'identity' is too boring and literal, but I don't know what else I'd call it, and I kind of think my reasoning in choosing it is still valid.

    I really like your name, and as you say there would be a huge amount of work involved in changing it. I think if you had a clear idea of an alternative that you thought worked better maybe it might be worth it, but it doesn't seem like you know what else to call it. I think if I was you I would keep it for now, and maybe when you're running low on business cards and thinking about reordering you could become 'Mrs Eliot Books and Prints'? Good luck with the pondering!

    Lovely photos by the way, he takes after his Mama! Rachel x

  4. Firstly, I have to say that i LOVE the photos, Isi! Fabulous little moments captured there, especially that mint aero wrapper! :)
    Secondly, had a nice little chuckle that a church has bought your lovesunday domain :)
    Now, the name... I don't try to 'translate' your name, if you know what I mean? I just accept that it is what it is. I've thought it was cute right from the beginning without needing it to 'mean' something. Also, Mrs Eliot Books is from a novel you found, isn't it? The name is complete within itself and really shouldn't be broken up or it loses that cuteness (in the non-kitten way).
    I've been thinking about changing my blog/shop name too because there are so many 3 sheeters. From my point of view you have an utterly unique shop/blog name - that is SO rare! To me, it's not old or fusty at all - it's unusual and I totally identify it with your aesthetic because it has no other meaning for me... So, my vote is keep it.
    Summary: you are so lucky you don't even know how lucky you are Mrs!
    However, that doesn't take into consideration the possibility that you are simply 'over it'; that you feel you've outgrown it or whatever. If that is the case then maybe you should emphasize your name more? I have noticed that people always seem to list your name whenever they write something about your shops/blog anyway.
    Sorry if this is this too long ;)
    I think it's a great name.

  5. i have no idea....but i'm cracking up at the thought of a church called lovesunday and also the mint aero in your scarf.
    love you whatever you're called

  6. ps just read kylie's comment and am now laughing even more and loving the idea of cute in a non kitten way!

  7. I'm relatively very new to your blog as you know and I did question why 'mrs eliot books'? I wondered if you were an author, was a publisher etc. I then looked at your Etsy shop & was surprised & delighted to find wonderfully colourful, modern, graphic work which I fell in love with. So your name, to me, didn't reflect your work. I assumed you were married to Mr Eliot but then wondered why would you would use that as your handle & not your name. OBVIOUSLY I was wrong here as the reason you're called Mrs Eliot because of a book (i think?). If I was to be brutally honest I did feel that your name didn't reflect your work. Your work is by far better, fresher and more relevant than your name suggests. Don't get me wrong, I DO like the name, very much. But if you are asking about it from a branding perspective, then no, I don't think it's right considering your work. I would say, if you love it then stick with it, but the problem is that just by raising this issue suggests you're not in love with it (any more). Apologies if I'm being presumptuous here.

    I love the name 'lovesunday'. It's cool and it just sounds good to me. I understand the domain has been taken (are we talking here?) but what about love sundays (with an S) or love_sunday (put in an underscore?) -those domains might be free? Or something like that. Equally I think using ones own name is a great idea for a company name - it doesn't tie you down and leaves you open to future interpretations of what your work might become. I think I would definitely have gone for my name as my brand when I started if I had a decent name - my maiden name is boring and I didn't change my name when I got married so felt weird using it for work! I guess when using your own name it kind of gives the impression that YOU are the brand almost - like if you are offering a service as opposed to just a product you've made. For me that's how I think of it sometimes, although most artists use their own name - or at least a pen name of sorts.

    With regards to the updating EVERYTHING, I totally hear you. It's a complete pain in the arse and will be fairly expensive I suppose to begin with. BUT if you don't then this will possibly nag at you all the time, as you are clearly having second thoughts about it all. I'm not trying to encourage you to spend money! But last year I scrapped EVERYTHING eventhough they were brand new - business cards, stickers, packaging, website - you name it, I scrapped it, & while it cost me financially I felt so relieved that I stayed true to what I wanted. It's SO difficult for independent businesses like ours when we have no one to bounce ideas off and get lost in our own thoughts and creativity to just make a decision and stick to it! I realised I needed to do what I loved first & then at least I would be proud of handing out my business cards instead of thinking 'well it's not really me, but have one anyway'. This is why my website is STILL under construction as I have been rebranding everything!

    I'm not saying my company name and branding is amazing or anything - far from it. I like my company name and I'm glad I chose it. Many people will probably hate it.

    Anyway, I guess I'm trying to say that you should go with your gut, your heart, or whatever you're meant to go with on these things. I'm sorry if I've been no help at all, and sorry for having written an essay, but as someone who's been through/is going through this right now, I know exactly how you feel and wanted to just share my thoughts. I hope I haven't offended you and hope that I have in some way helped?
    Let me know how you get on.
    Jo x

  8. Wondered where the books thing came in! Doesn't match does it?
    You know what I think? You want to change it but can't be arsed with the massive hassle....but a year from now you'll still want to change it and it'll be even more of a hassle and finally when you get round to it you'll wish you'd just done it in the first place! Now that the thought has got into your head it's gonna stay there!
    Might not turn out to be as much hassle as you think??
    I really like lovesunday....god damned church! LoveMonday isn't quite the same is it!
    Sorry, don't have any good ideas....but you have a fab name so that works for me! xx

  9. I agree with Kylie.

  10. oh man. can open...worms EVERYwhere. thanks for your thoughts so far. shame they are at opposite ends of the spectrum ;-) xxx

  11. ooh sorry... hope this hasn't become harder for you now? Whatever you choose to do your work is so fabulous and will always carry forward. :) x

  12. Probably not a useful comment, but here goes: Mrs Eliot Books sounds to me like the name of a shop, not necessarily a book shop. It probably wouldn't hurt to keep that as your shop name(s) for a bit, and gradually shift things to your own name. Start with the blog, or website, then business cards, and so on?

    Ultimately it's what makes sense to you that's the most important. I "rebranded" my textiles to Henri Kuikens to separate that stuff from my illustrations - some people find it confusing, some don't, but I find it marvellously clarifying!

  13. Jo don't worry, I really appreciate your input. If I ask a question I have to be prepared for the answers :-)

  14. Very tricky! I do think the 'books' part is a little confusing, and then one of your commenters called you "Miss Fran", which I think could be quite a nice midway name for you, as it draws on your name, and also references your Mrs Eliot bit. Or not.
    I know, that's not very helpful. As I say - it's tricky! Good luck. xx

  15. I like the name Mrs Eliot Books - I think it's quirky and unique. And when you think of Kerry and Seventy Tree, well that name doesn't really say what her work is either. But both are names that I was drawn to because they were different and unusual. Does that make sense? I know your work has evolved but I'm sure most designers work changes and their name/brand doesn't. Hope that helps! x

  16. I think your brand name is just fine. It's cool and quirky. It stands out and I often think what a great name it is. Great work peter parker! X

  17. This is a really tricky issue. I personally like the idea of the Mrs Eliot Books staying for the shops and your work going out under your own name - it's a great name and very recognisable. Good for google too, although tricky to spell correctly!

    Maybe there are more questions you need to think over (if you haven't already)? Like...
    - Who are you communicating to with your brand/name? Who does it need to appeal to?
    - What are the fundamental qualities of your brand? Creative, friendly, bold.. whatever they are does your name/logo etc communicate it?
    - How would you like to introduce yourself to people? I found it really useful to imagine shaking hands with someone and saying "Oh hi, nice to meet you I'm Becky from ..."

    I don't think your brand name needs to be totally literal, but it does need to "fit" with the image/style you are creating and the audience you're reaching...

    Hmm... those are questions more than answers... good luck with it!


  18. We already spoke via email, but I had to leave you a comment here just to tell you how much I have laughed out loud at that mint aero wrapper!!

  19. kerry - when ben and i are brushing our teeth together at night we often notice we have little bits of chocolate stuck in odd places. neck, earlobe etc. it's tres tres classy round here :-)

  20. I like Mrs Eliot Books - I like the "primness" of it, and I think that is is rather fitting for your designs - neat and clean and tidy - in the best possible way of course.

    Also, can I be honest and say I'm not too sure how to pronounce Iannaccone, so I tend to think of you as Fran, or Mrs Eliot Books.

  21. Its a tricky one, I understand your dilemma, how I wish I had chanced upon a more grown up name when I started up, but r&g I am stuck with. And those cute owls seemed like a good idea at the time (I won't divulge what I feel about them now but lets just say I am gently retiring them!) For what it's worth I like mrs eliots books, I don't think it is essential for a brand name to explain the product. It's not too 'cute' and it's a bit intriguing which I think is not a bad thing. v x

  22. thank you all for your thoughts - it's funny, it seems a lot of you have misgivings aout your brand/identity.

    virginia - i love roddy & ginger. intrigued about the owl replacement, i noticed you've so far hidden them in your tree trunks!

    flora - phonetically: ya-na-co-ne

  23. It's strange as when I first found your work I didn't question the shop name at all. But when I got the latest parcel of stuff, I said "oh, that's the latest bundle of stationery from Francesca" rather than "...from Mrs Eliot books". In between those two points
    a) your work has moved away from books
    b) I've got to know you.

    Maybe ask some different questions about it? If you saw your mugs/stationery/prints in LivingEtc what would you want the credit to say? How easy would it be for the non-internet-savvy reader of a magazine to google you?

    I like 'Mrs Eliot books' as it makes me think of 1930s Bloomsbury/Fitzrovia etc but are those the associations you want? A lot of your work makes me think of post-war/midcentury/pop-art design instead.

    (As a footnote, I acquired 'Mags' as a pen name due to a nickname, and 'stripedpolkas' because I was having a polkadot phase!)

  24. I know exactly what you mean! I didn't really realise the impact of choosing a name when I first started my etsy shop, and now I have the same dilemma.

    I like Mrs Eliot Books because it's unusual and memorable. I remembered it, and I think that's important. Now I associate it with your work.

    It's a tricky one isn't it! I think keep it :-)

  25. I love Mrs Eliot Books!! It is you - a reflection of your origins and your unique (fun and slightly quirky ; )) personality. Having worked in advertising and sat through countless yawn-inspiring meetings on branding I truely believe that after a while it doesn't matter anymore. A little intrigue is good. Afterall you could read the Books bit as part of a surname... an intriguing character, maybe... Actually that seems perfect to me! : )

  26. This is probably a bit late in the day but years ago I had a long list of blogs I used to read (yours being one of them). At some point I lost all my bookmarks in some laptop crisis and when I eventually got round to re-connecting with the blogs used to read yours was one of the few whose name I remembered.

    So, I suppose what I'm saying is, it's a memorable name.

  27. i was initially attracted to your blog because i am a book lover and, obviously, "books" is in your name. but once i took a look around i never wondered over the lack of books since your work is so good.

    having said that, as a random follower, just follow your heart on this one. i don't think your name is hurting you. i don't know if a new name will. but if you just FEEL like a change? go for it :)


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