What's in a name

I've always found that choosing a name for a product or business is really, really hard. A few people have asked me what on earth the Ockham name is all about. Well, I'm glad they asked...

Ockham's razor

You may have heard of 'Ockham's razor' (often spelled Occam's razor) and if you have you'll know it's got nothing to do with shaving. What it actually is is a philosophical principle devised by medieval English philosopher William of Ockham. Put simply, it suggests that when it comes to formulating hypotheses one should reduce assumptions and keep things simple.

I believe that any design problem can benefit from a similar approach. Assumptions can be the killer of optimum solutions and from an aesthetic point of view simple wins every time for me. I often find that products are ruined by superfluous details and frippery. Form follows function, and successful designs like Dieter Rams and Jonathan Ive exemplify that attitude.


When it came to a logo we kept things simple too. We used a sans-serif font with a line cut through the middle to hint at the razor functionality. Specifically, we wanted a perfectly round letter O so that we could subtly brand the razor on the circular section of the end of the handle. In fact, as if the origin of our name isn't steeped in history enough, the monogram on the end of our razor could actually be used to brand in the original sense. Or for those without cattle, to use when you seal your letters with wax.

Monogram on the end of the razor handle

So names can be hard to come up with but in this case it actually came quite easily.

We did look at other names. The London Razor Company for example, but thought that sounded a bit like a hipster name masquerading as a heritage brand. We also thought about names reflecting the simple styling and almost archetypal shape - names like RazorOne or Razero. But in the end Ockham won through with its story and that wonderfully round O.

I'm ashamed to say that I've never been to Ockham in Surrey, the birthplace of our eponymous philosopher, but I intend to do so. I feel a team outing coming up.

Rob HallifaxComment