Naming Haio (heyo, hiiiiio, hhaaaioo!?)

We often get asked about our name, Haio (pronounced hi-oh! ). Where did it come from and what on earth does it mean? Well, you asked and we answered. Here’s the scoop.

Names are quite funny really, when you think about it— letters, sounds, shapes that give a thing an identity. We live most of our life dealing with other peoples names but it’s quite rare that we get a chance to name something for ourselves, bar the odd child here and there. Sometimes we help our clients choose their name as part of the branding process (hey there, PictureVan!) and true, there are a lot of considerations to take into account — domain names, legal checks, trademarks are all important but what it really comes down to is meaning.

In order to be able to sit back, relax into your chair and look up at the wall at your company name and think, yep, that’s us, that’s perfect you have to have a story. That can be functional, or it can be more conceptual but the important thing is you’ve thought about it.

And so to Haio… something I realised early on was that I wanted the name to be abstract. Using existing words just wasn’t going to work for us for two main reasons. Firstly, picking an existing word would mean everyone who encountered it would have their own pre-existing connotations – be those positive or negative. This was something I really wanted to avoid, especially in the creative industry. Secondly, we found that (and again, this is a problem we see in our sector — naming is all about context) if you’re not careful the name ends up tying you to a quickly dated and tired marketing ploy. ‘Shift creative’ was an early front runner for us (I know, dodged a bullet there), but imagine having to live the entire life cycle of a business talking about shifting perspectives. Urgh. No, it had to be something that meant nothing, and that we could pour meaning into with our values and work. I’m a huge believer that if you can build a strong brand, do right by everyone and produce exceptional work then as a creative, everything else will fall into place.

So where did Haio come from you ask? Well, I knew I wanted it to be abstract, but I also wanted to mean something (to me at least). A few years ago I took a trip to Iceland, an incredible country which left a lasting impression on me in so many ways — firstly, I was with my family, who I got to share the experience of seeing the northern lights with (which if you haven’t seen yet, go. Stop reading this and start booking a trip!). That evening will remain one of the most incredible moments of my life— the sheer feeling of wonder, magic and disbelief you get looking up at the dancing lights is indescribable so I’ll save you my attempt at doing so.

Secondly I fell in love with the country and the people — so friendly (and I know everyone says that about literally anywhere they’ve travelled. Well most places) but the people in Iceland were different. So warming, in the most humble way — they’re not in your face and they genuinely wanted the best for you. I’m still in contact with Siggi, our lovely tour guide who showed us the lights that night and for me that says a lot. I want to create a company that people keep in touch with, not because of the service but because we genuinely want our clients to succeed. You don’t get that very often, and we’re working hard to make sure it stays that way as we grow.

Lastly, the design culture — much as with their entire way of life, it’s based on simplicity, functionality and humility. All things that are at the very heart of all the work that comes out of our studio.

Yep, I know, we still haven’t got to where Haio came from but you can probably start to see where this is going. How could I find a name that would pull together family, inspiration, values and culture into one place. Well, I got out a map (by which I mean I loaded up Google maps) and started scouring. Long and hard until I stumbled across a little place called Heiðmörk.

Welcome to Heiðmörk, catchy right?

Clearly that was going to be a little bit of a mouthful, but apply a little simplification to that and you have Haio — I love the shape of the word.. clean, simple and beautiful. It captures a huge number of things I wanted the company to stand for and it also reminds me a lot of the incredible design companies that we aspire to be like one day — Ideo, AKQA, Ueno.

So that’s that – Haio reminds me what’s important, where we’ve been and where we’re going. We hope you like it.

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