As someone once misquoted, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Therefore, it seems only fair that the first brand name we critique be our own. 

In case you missed the news, we are starting a new series dedicated to brand naming. Using our proprietary Five-Star Naming Guide, we will be analyzing and interpreting the strategy, design and techniques behind different brand names.

For the inaugural analysis, we turned the mirror on our own name: States of Matter.

Overview of Company

States of Matter is a brand agency in Seattle, Washington. We specialize in high-concept, results-driven strategy and design for consumer and technology brands.

Naming Technique

The name “States of Matter” is a common phrase inspired by the world of science and physics. Other brands that have used this technique include Rolling Stone magazine (inspired by the phrase “a rolling stone gathers no moss”), the sleep aid Nytol (named after the phrase “Goodnight, all”), and the fast-food restaurant, Jack in the Box.

Competitor Names

Our competitors in Seattle include Hornall Anderson, Phinney Bischoff, methodologie, HUM Creative, Urban Influence, Turnstyle and Fell Swoop, among others.

Rating System Scorecard Som

Rating & Analysis — 4 Stars

Strategy: The name States of Matter is strongly connected to our brand promise, which is to help our clients create their legacy — to matter at what they do. And just as matter manifests in different forms, so do brands, and our services. To remain at the top of our industry, we must support, morph and evolve with our clients, all the while focusing on taking actions that matter. 

Concept: Our name's power comes from the interplay of art and science, as well as our belief that great brands balance logic and emotion. We are incredibly disciplined but also wildly creative. This names gives us powerful parameters for building our brand and establishing leadership. 

Look: When set in typography, the spacing and height of our name is visually pleasing. The double “t”s in Matter give us a signature design element (our favicon). However, the name is quite long and doesn’t always look like a strong, standalone brand name when simply written in plain type. We often truncate the name to the SoM initials in writing. 

Sound: There's no doubt about how to pronounce the name. And it conveys solidity, thanks in part to the trochaic strong-soft, strong-soft meter. However, the length of the name can make it a mouthful when spoken quickly or often. 

Distinction: States of Matter stands out in our industry and makes you think about a common assumption or phrase in a new way, which is what we’re trying to do with branding in general. 

Bc Emboss Graphic


Did we really just give ourselves less than a perfect score? Yes, yes we did.

Evaluating a name is a highly subjective exercise, and we’re always tougher on ourselves than we are on others. But our less-than-perfect score highlights another lesson in naming: like wine, great names take time to mature. Since we’re a young agency, we will continue to grow into our identity over time, and the market will in turn come to understand our purpose and personality.

And with any name, there will always be compromises. Is that to say there’s no such thing as a 5-Star name? Not necessarily. But pleasing various stakeholders while achieving success in all five naming dimensions is certainly a rare feat. The important thing is to always be true to yourself and your brand’s promise. With that in mind, stay tuned for our next installment of What’s In A Name to see how other brands score.

Britt Stromberg

Strategy Director

Britt Stromberg is the Co-Founder of States of Matter and our Director of Strategy. When you put your business and brand in her hands, she will think crazy carefully, listen to her gut, sleep on it—then do the research to be certain.

Filed under: What's in a Name?

Tagged with: Naming, States of Matter, Brand Agency