Work Matters: Management Focus - What's in a name ..

Perhaps the hardest part of establishing a new nursery is coming up with a distinctive name, says Derek Hayes.

It's time to christen the nursery that Childcare Consultancy is helping Bethesda Ministries to set up. The contractors are cracking on and look likely to have the building watertight by Christmas, so we need to hurry up and decide on a name so we can come up with some stunning brand designs. Also, as our team is now working on a few other similar projects, references to 'the new nursery' are getting a little confusing.

So what should we suggest as a good name? Something friendly and child-centred - that's an owner's usual starting point. Hmm - to be honest, I think there are quite enough 'Happy Tots', 'Little Pixies' and 'Tiny Cherubs' in the sector. As a marketer, I'm not really a fan of these examples, as they are a little hackneyed and don't give you much to work with in terms of differentiating your setting or ethos.

Worse still are the 'Tiny Tykes', 'Cheeky Monkeys' and 'Little Pickles' of this world! No offence, if you are reading this in the staff room of so-called premises, I have nothing against your provision, you understand, it's just this kind of cute name sometimes alienates me. I wonder, is it really appropriate to label children in this way, or am I just overly sensitive? (My colleague Jeanette has just read this over my shoulder and suggests that I stop wondering, as I don't want to upset too many clients.)

OK then - quick quiz question. What do you think is the most common name for a daycare setting in the UK? Well, according to daynurseries.co.uk it's 'Little Acorns' (not including the chains). Apparently, there are 118 nurseries with 'Acorns' in the title. Acorns aren't offensive. 'Rainbows' is second, and there are over 100 of those too. Next come 'First Steps' and 'Stepping Stones', of which there are 80 each, making a lot of steps and quite a challenge for the average toddler.

Anyway, there is an idea for a name - but dare I share it now? Yes, I dare. It's 'Bethesda Grove', actually suggested at one of the initial project meetings. With time to reflect on it, I think it works rather well. Obviously, it links with the ministry's name, is a little unusual but sounds welcoming and sophisticated, don't you think? A grove is a little forest, so there are connotations of nature and nurturing growth - but without the acorns!

- Derek Hayes is senior consultant/trainer at the Childcare Consultancy. For information e-mail info@childcareconsult.co.uk.

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