Sept. 18, 2020

But wait, what’s it called?!

But wait, what’s it called?!

I was interviewing athletes around the clock and still didn’t have a finalized podcast name. I was constantly sourcing interview content, while also defining my brand. In b-school speak, we call this parallel processing (aka working on multiple workstreams simultaneously). Put another way, I was cooking up a storm, while also making up the recipe. While I enjoy juggling multiple balls at once, I would be lying if I pretended I wasn’t overwhelmed. I loved what I was doing but there was a ton of work to be done, especially if I wanted to do the work the way I believed it needed to be done.

Before graduate school, I worked in marketing and experienced a massive corporate rebrand, so I was aware of the amount of work that goes into creating a strong brand (aka a TON). I was also aware of the constant upkeep it requires (sadly, you don’t just launch a brand and let it do its thing. Rather, it requires continuous care and attention). So, I started from the ground up... I literally went through the exercises I did at my previous company.

I started by outlining the feelings I wanted the brand to elicit. How did I want it to make people feel when they saw it visually? Heard the name? What emotions did I want to evoke? A few of the words that came to mind for me were connected, hopeful, and inspired. These words eventually worked their way into my brand goals. I then moved onto themes for names. What were themes that related to the content of my podcast? I determined four main categories that my podcast name could fall under.

  • These athletes may never be Olympians/Paralympians (aka the Games were deferred and may not happen) >> for example, my favorite in this categories was ‘Unlit: Tokyo’s Torch. Untold stories from our world’s best female athletes’
  • The game/competition of sport itself>> for example, I was playing around with the double entendre of ‘For the Record’
  • Gender and female strength >> for example, Ladies’ Locker Room was an option that I really liked because of the tongue and cheek nature of reclaiming the locker room in an empowering way. That said, this name was very polarizing (aka people either loved or really disliked it)
  • Historic female athletes >>for example ‘Pourtalès’ Portal because Helen de Pourtalès was the first female Olympian (1900)

Under each of these categories, I created long lists of title options. I mixed and matched phrases, creating headers and subheaders. I then shopped potential options to friends and family who provided feedback. I went through at least 10 rounds of edits.

At the same time, I developed our mission (what we do), purpose (why we do it), goals, and core values. This was important because I wanted a brand that was built around these. For me, the podcast title wasn’t something that could just be slapped on happenstance at the end, but it needed to hint at or illuminate some element of what I was doing or why I was doing it.

Image by Larisa Koshkina

Here’s what I landed on:

Mission Statement (what we do)

To actively celebrate the current generation of female* Olympians and Paralympians. We will have real conversations about what it means to be amongst the best female athletes in the world, and discuss the untold stories not caught on camera including the difficult daily tradeoffs and tensions many feel about their aging bodies, careers, and interests in having children to name a few but also the unheard positive stories about deeper connections and solidarity.

Purpose (why)

To provide opportunity for both athletes and listeners alike:

  • For female Olympians and Paralympians to share their dreams, struggles, and lessons of mental fortitude, overcoming stereotypes, and building resilience
  • For listeners to learn from the life-changing experiences of these elite female athletes and their mentors/mentees

We seek to learn and grow from the unprecedented, instilling hope in a time of uncertainty.


My goal is three-fold:

  1. Celebrate 2021 female-identifying Olympians and Paralympians, digging into what being a top female athlete means in real life
  2. Champion the knowledge they (and their mentor/mentee) have gathered
  3. Gain insight into the connectivity of our athletes: every athlete got to where she is with the support of others

Core Values

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Transparency

— — — — — —

Locking in the above was a crucial step for me in determining my name as it made me question some of the name categories. For example, while I loved the name Unlit: Tokyo’s Torch, it had no connection to the aspect of female empowerment and was actually sad in tone instead of uplifting. As I whittled down title options, I poured through trade magazines and scoured websites that I thought had particularly powerful brands. A few I was drawn to include NIKEPatagonia, and IDEO. All three of these companies had strong, clean and creative brand images.

I was simultaneously in conversations with lawyers from the USOPC to proactively make sure I was abiding by all trademarks; I had proactively reached out to put my work on their radar, but also to make sure I was avoiding trademarked words such as Olympic and Paralympic in all titles.

When I was down to three titles, I started representing them visually. Lastly, I shared all three options with a group of about 20 friends and family members for feedback.

The end result?

Originally published on Flame bearers - Medium