People often ask us what the origin of the name Mediabarn is. The following is a long-winded answer to that question!
Back in 1994 when AOL was still on Westwood Center Drive in Vienna, Dave Baker was the manager of a group that Jason and I worked on called the Rainteam. We were originally put together to kick start the use of photos on the service using the new Rainman publishing system that the amazing AOL developers created. After Rainman was more widely implemented and the individual channels were publishing their own Rainman content, our team was re-purposed to work on special projects or to assist channels with their design and build needs. We were a hodge-podge group of people with a diverse set of skills (visual design, Flash, coding, etc.), so we were well suited for doing this type of work. At one point, we were tasked by Ted Leonsis to come up with one new and cool thing to put on the service every day for a month. We were given the name the “Coolteam,” a name that is as embarrassing now as it was then (and I’m sure you can picture the amount of crap we took from our fellow AOLers for THAT moniker!) A whole other blog post can some day be given to the Rainteam/Coolteam…it was one of the best and most amazing work experiences of my life.
Anyway, during the Coolteam days, we would dream of a place where we could bring together all types of creative people and let them loose on great, innovative ideas and products. We imagined a barn as the venue. A barn that had the standard decor of an old-time facility on the outside, but was ultra-modern and tricked-out inside to promote creativity and open thinking. We would half-heartedly try to get funding for what we called the “media barn” (as well as a ton of other seemingly crazy ideas like a Winnebago in which we could tour the country and generate community initiatives that we dubbed the “Communibago.”) None of these ideas seemed that far-fetched back in the heyday of AOL. Not surprisingly (in retrospect) we were never able to produce a solid business justification for the Winnebago, the barn, or numerous other hair-brained ideas.
The barn, though, really stuck with us as something to hold on to. We liked what it represented. Old meets new. Values meet creativity. As we talked over the years about starting our own business, the Mediabarn would become our rallying cry. It wasn’t much of a jump when we came to the conclusion that Mediabarn would make a good company name, albeit vague and not really explanatory for what we planned to do.
Disclaimer: I am by no means a branding or marketing expert, so read the following paragraph at your own risk. As it turns out, I believe Mediabarn has a number of benefits as a business name. It works well for search engines, is relatively unique, affords us good branding opportunities, and isn’t too specific as to pigeon-hole us from a perception perspective. But most importantly it carries real meaning to us as being representative of where we came from. When choosing a name for a small business, this is one of the things I personally believe is extremely important. Your brand as a small business is all about who you and the people who comprise your team are. If your name carries with it something you believe in, you will project your brand with more personal conviction.