If you want to start a brewery, you need to have a name. Simple, right? Wrong. So, so wrong.
If you’ve ever named a business, you will understand the stress that goes with this. It’s like naming a child; there is a lot of pressure to get it right.
There is the argument that you shouldn’t worry too much about the name because if you make great beer and have a terrible name, you will still do well. Likewise, if you have a great name and make terrible beer, you will probably bomb. But we wanted both - we want to make great beer and have a great name. The name has to be something we are proud of.
A business name, like a child’s name, is in most cases something that you are stuck with for life. You can of course change your name, but that’s not a sure fire way to shake off the shackles of a bad name. Here is a case in point.
A friend of mine went to school with an unfortunate boy by the name of Robert Roberts. Boys can be cruel, and he was a laughing stock. His mom eventually remarried and took on a new name – and Robert Roberts became Robert Stevens. He thought that was the end of it, but he grossly underestimated the ingenuity of schoolboy humour, which dictated that he henceforth be known as Steven Stevens, a name that stuck with him throughout his schooling life. Oh, the laughter!
The point is, your original name defines you. Those that know it, will always know you by that name. A certain generation will still call KFC its original name (it’s “Kentucky Fried Chicken” for all you youngsters out there).
So, we felt the pressure to get it right. It had to feel right for all three of us – and of course, all three of us had different ideas. We are all introspective thinkers too, who like to dwell on these decisions rather than make snap calls. That made it tough.
Our name had to mean something. It had to be easy to understand. It had to be easy to say - when you have someone who speaks with an accent like I do, you have to think of all possibilities. Which is kind of a funny story…
Ironically, we all failed to pick up that when I say Cabin in my clipped New Zealand accent, it sounds a little like “Kevin”. In fact, we had feedback from more than a few people after I appeared on the CBC Eyeopener to do my regular beer column that it sounded like I was calling it “Kevin”. Gah! We’ll probably save Kevin as a sub-brand to make beer that doesn’t fit under the Cabin brand, or to name a special beer.
As I mentioned in Chapter 1, Darrin and Jonas had some ideas already about names, and so had I. Marrying them was hard. Going back over our correspondence, I found a note from Darrin to Jonas and I following a brainstorm session about names that read as follows:
“We should all at least like the name if not love it. If you are against the name we should probably come up with something we can all stand behind. A couple steps back isn't a big deal. I'm sure we will be back-stepping a few times through this whole process.”
Truer words never spoken.
For weeks, the names flew thick and fast. We shared them with friends, loved ones and trusted advisors. One minute a name would be weighed up and then reduced to the cutting room floor the next.
Known. 8 Bit. Library. Monument. Sayers and Hurtig. Chronos. SoAb. River Mist. Paperback. Fanatic. Radical. Jackknife. Long White Cloud. Vestige. Balcony. Altitude. Cottonwood. Permutation. Vector. Solid.
Those were all names that didn’t make the grade. That last one gave us some laughs though. A message from me to Darrin and Jonas on the matter (so to speak) read:
“I must say, I also quite like the name Solid. It's kind of like Gigantic. Exudes trust. Speaks to quality. On the flip side, it sounds kind of like a turd (as in, "I'm off to have a Solid, where's the newspaper"). Imagine the advertising: 'When did you last have a Solid?'"
And so, Solid was flushed away, with the rest of the names we had brainstormed.
We had also considered Confluence – which is funny, because the distillery that is opening in the bay next door to us in Manchester is called Confluence Distilling. Imagine how confusing that would have been!
Ultimately, we kept coming back to names that evoked feeling and a sense of being. Names that educed good memories.
Campfire. Campground. Cabin. Cabin? Cabin! The more we said it over and over and ran through the scenarios, the more it made sense.
We were inspired by the feelings of comfort and individuality and escapism that makes a special getaway feel like a true home away from home.
We spelled it out in our business plan:
“Since we were children, we’ve yearned for our own special place: A cardboard box fort; a cubby under the stairs; a flashlight under the covers.
As we grew up, we slept in tents under trees. We bought campers and took road trips. We rented cabins in faraway places and gathered with friends. We made memories.
The humble cabin represents the ultimate escape. A home away from home. A respite from the stresses of work and the regularity of everyday life. A place to be yourself.
Cabin Brewing Company embodies that feeling. It is a place to make new memories. It is your new special place.”
It took a few weeks for us to grow into the name. I think any brewery needs to do this with their name to test it out. But at the end of those weeks, as we uttered the name Cabin hundreds of times, it felt good.
We settled on the name, did a provincial and federal name search to make sure no one else was using it and then on April 1, 2017 (April Fool’s Day! Symobolic? We hope not…) we met at the AMA registry on 17th Ave SW. A few forms and $500 later, Cabin Brewing Company Inc. was born.
We briefed our design agency Daughter Creative on the name and idea and they brought our branding vision to life. We’ll share more on our brand in a separate post, because that’s an entire story and process on its own.
One idea we’re trying to dissuade is that we’re simply recreating an old-fashioned physical log cabin in an urban setting. It’s much, much more than that – and in fact, the final taproom design will look less like your traditional dark wood and animal head cabin, and more like a modern Scandinavian home.
The idea of a physical cabin is merely a metaphor – it’s the feeling that you get when you spend time in your special place that gives Cabin it’s energy. That feeling of home.
It’s the cottage on the lake with your cousins. The tent in the backyard with your brother or sister. The trailer by the river with your parents. The maple shack in the woods near your Grandma’s house out east. A fishing tent on a frozen lake with your best buddy. An A-frame on the ski hill with classmates. A beach house with old college friends.
In our case it’s a brewery and getaway in the heart of a booming part of town with a heart and soul that burns warm like the coals in a potbelly stove.
I later found a quote that, in retrospect, perfectly sums up what we are trying to do: “Each of us has a home inside of us ready to be built if we try.”
We love the name Cabin and all it stands for. It’s the home inside of us ready to be built. We love the creative opportunities it has given us. And we love the idea that in just a few short months we’ll be opening the doors of our Cabin to share it with all of you.
Welcome to our Cabin.