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man bites dog- renaming ishmael's corner blog

Would you have reached this point if the headline simply read, “A Plea for Your Input on the Name ‘Ishmaels’ Corner’?”

It doesn’t matter.

You’re here; clickbait be damned.

Here’ the situation.

The “look and feel” of my blog harkens back to a time when AOL dominated and MySpace was hot. I believe my first notion to redesign the blog occurred four years ago. Obviously, acknowledging a problem and doing something about it are not one and the same.

But the moment has arrived.

The redesign of the blog is officially underway.

This is where I need your helping hand. If you could take roughly 30 seconds out of your crazed schedule to share your opinion on this blog’s name “Ishmael’s Corner,”  I would greatly appreciate the input.

In short, should I keep the current name? Yes or no.

Of course, if your perspective goes deeper than this question, by all means continue on. I value any and all comments.

Every time I consider the pros and cons, I end up in a psychological maze with no way out.

A little bit of historical context —

Since storytelling underpins the blog, I wanted a name with such a connotation. This led to the novel “Moby Dick” and the quasi double entendre:  Not only does Ishmael narrate the story, but he also starts the saga with one of the most famous lines in American literature, “Call me Ishmael.”

That’s how I ended up with the name “Ishmael’s Corner” when I launched the blog in 2008.

It wasn’t until years later that I figured out that no one under 40 knows this Ishmael character with the exception of bible scholars who think of Ishmael as the first son of Abraham. Not exactly my target audience.

My good friend and colleague Steve Farnsworth (a.k.a. @Steveology) has chided me on numerous occasions over Hobee’s coffee cake to change the name.

I’ve resisted because I felt that even if people missed the literary connection, there’s a certain amount of equity in the name after 600 plus posts. And there’s no getting around the fact that one gets comfortable with a name after reading it again and again and again.

But with the decision to bulldoze the site a done deal, now would be the logical time to change the name if, in fact, I do so.

Hence, the question, should I keep the name?

You can send your answer via Twitter (@LouHoffman), a posted comment or email LHoffman@Hoffman.com.

Thanks.

Before signing off, three names that I find clever:DavesKillerBread Take 2 03-15

  • Dave’s Killer Bread: While “killer” has been overused, sandwiched between the founder and bread creates a name that sticks in your brain.
  • Spin Sucks: The word “spin” symbolizes bad communications. It took guts to play off this heartburn in naming a blog that serves communication professionals.
  • The Rude Baguette: This is an English language blog that covers the startup scene in France. I’m not sure an adjective has ever been put to better use.

And no, I’m not going to change the name of my blog to “Lou’s Rude and Killer Spin.”

 


Comments

  • Gini Dietrich

    Oh. Like Steve has any room to talk. He’s still not on a self-hosted domain!

    Personally, I like Ishmael’s Corner. I get the literary reference AND I equate it to you. I vote keeping it. You can always tell the story of how you came to the name in the About page and through offline opportunities. I am ALWAYS asked how we got to Spin Sucks. So I weave it into blog posts, into speaking engagements, and even through a book.

    It’s just branding. You know that. And you already have a brand.

    Reply
    • hoffman

      Hi Gini,

      Sorry for the delayed response. I appreciate the perspective. Also appreciate the extra ammo to aim at Mr. Farnsworth the next time we dine on Hobee’s coffee cake.

      Reply
  • Chris Parente

    Lou – first off, thanks for a simple comments section that actually works!

    To question — I faced a somewhat similar decision a few years ago. I too started blogging in 2008, on three different topics, Work, Wine and Wheels. In 2012 migrated from wp.com to wp.org on my own server, redesigning at the same time. Then last year started my own content marketing firm.

    Some counseled me to discontinue the Triple W after launching StoryTech Consulting, since it wasn’t “work” enough. Instead, I decided to build a separate site for my business, and via RSS republish all work related stories there as well as at chrisparente.com

    So that’s a long way of saying “No, don’t ditch Ishmael” to your question. Or, maybe keep the Ishmael name/brand inside of a broader web redesign (which I agree is needed). It comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish.

    Personally I think a well designed company site is required not for lead gen, but for validation and further research after you’ve touched the prospect in some other way.

    Good luck whichever way you go.

    Reply
    • hoffman

      Thanks Chris.

      Totally agree with your points including the one on design. I’m very enthused about moving to a design that doesn’t embarrass the content.

      Reply
  • Matthew

    Could go either way on the title. Couple of other ideas/directions to go below:
    – Finding the arc – Play on storytelling and Indiana Jones
    – The long and short of it – Again a play with words and storytelling
    – Hoffman’s stump – Might be too political
    – Lou’s laughable linguistics – Too many things to list. Might be a bit silly.
    – Fabulous Fibs?

    Hope these help spur other ideas.

    Reply
    • hoffman

      Personally, I kind of like “Finding the Arc” but believe it might be another one of those “references” that stump the panel.

      “The long short of it” actually works as a double entendre (I’m a short guy).

      Thanks for the helping hand.

      Reply
  • Patrick McGee

    Lou –
    I came to IC because of your content. Saw a retweet that grabbed me and when I arrived had to wait to read it while I processed the name and graphic. It spoke volumes. And I liked you at that moment. Influence principle #X. Now when I tell my comms pro wife that I want to send her something to read from Lou Hoffman and she says “Who?” and I say “the guy that does Ishmael’s Corner”. She says “oh yeah, send that one.” My 27 year old comms trainer son is an arts grad in Classics and Theatre. Plus a Masters in Theatre. He and almost all his peeps know who Ishmael is. So there’s that. The only reason I can see you changing is to be more explicit that the blog is about storytelling. But isn’t that the same as a fact sheet versus a story? The real draw is your content (and that doesn’t need a blog name or graphic, just a compelling headline.). The elevating packaging devices are the current name and graphic. Like walking the talk. They are reinforcing. Anyway, nothing about the quality of your thinking and writing will be diminished if you change the name. I just won’t get that pleasant thrill of the packaging each time I come to visit.
    Cheers,
    Pat

    Reply
    • hoffman

      Now that’s an interesting way of looking at.

      The name “Ishmael” has more staying power than “Lou Hoffman” even if the person does not recognize the literary reference.

      I appreciate the positive words.

      Reply
  • Jacqueline

    Have always struggled with the title of this blog. I get it but at the same time, I don’t get it (however that’s probably because we never studied Moby Dick in Canadian schools.)

    If you do end on renaming the blog, would love to see something that speaks a little more directly to the PR industry.

    My suggestion:
    To PR or not to PR: answering questions, gathering insights and subtly making fun of the public relations industry

    Reply
    • hoffman

      That’s a fair point.

      I strive to tackle topics relevant to communicators regardless of geography. Yet, the title references American literature.

      Glad you took the time to comment.

      Reply
  • Frank Strong

    I’m with the group here — I like Ishmael’s Corner and had to look it up the first time it goes. I think it’s got longevity on it side, not to mention the name recognition you’ve worked hard to build.

    Reply
    • hoffman

      Thanks Frank. I’m sticking with it. Your point on longevity is valid. I think it was Woody Allan who said “half of life is showing up.” If that’s the case, then half of branding a blog is simply publishing on a consistent basis over a period of time.

      Reply

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