The creation of Rooh, pt.1

Alexandra Khobotova
8 min readMar 7, 2021

How I created naming for a new volunteer organization

This article is written in two languages, Ukrainian and English. Ukrainian version is on my page (Link). Please follow the language you’re more comfortable with.

What is it all about

Rooh is a young nonprofit organization where I’m happy to be the brand manager, visual designer and creative director. Well, mentioning the single role of a brand manager would be enough, maybe, but I’m not sure whether it can describe everything I do within the project.

Everything started with a single call from my ex-colleague, who asked me to join the volunteer community as a designer. (However it haven’t got limited to this and I’ve gained more responsibilities.) ‘The community’ had already consisted of several people (about 15, I suppose), who were connected by single idea — to preserve and promote Ukrainian culture in the media by creating interesting and modern social, cultural, educational, and historical projects. Disclaimer: the community doesn’t deal with politics.

Nowadays our cultural and media spheres are suffering from informational war with Russia. It is very important to preserve and promote our culture ( and our language is the foundation of our culture). The part of Ukrainian language content on YouTube, for example, is miserable. And it is like that all around the Internet.

All the people in the community are IT-specialists — some are developers, some are designers and some — copywriters. All of them work remotely because they live in different countries. The projects are digital — for now let’s call them ‘websites’ because I’m going to tell you about some of them in detail a bit later. The organization would be represented as a web platform.

However, it had to be named somehow in order to acquire brand identity, at least. Later it received social media pages, website with its own domain name and other marketing assets to play with. So…I had to start with the name.

Finding the name

I’ve done naming before, though this project was so important to me and I wanted to prove myself that I got a bit nervous. What should I begin with? I knew several options my teammates had been using before I entered the stage, they were all about “community” and “education”. So I knew in what direction I should move.

Another important moment — me and my teammates have filled the brief in, so I’ve known the details about the project (the community is the project in this context). Here is what the brief says (excerpt):

Goal — To make a platform full of professionals in different IT fields (UX, dev) which would be able to work on many different projects connected with Ukrainian culture AT THE SAME TIME (because they will make teams).

Value propositions — emotionally — people are felling involved into something important, new.

Tone of voice — Emotions — pride, willing to help, willing to participate, patriotic, brave, rebellious, smart, inspirational, talking loud, willing to change things, valiant, hearty.

Okay, these things are understandable. They gave me a hint about the name — it should be something very Ukrainian, very familiar and understandable for our people, something that will cause emotional response.

I’ve started the research. First of all I’ve made an image of our community for myself and started looking through Ukrainian orthographic dictionaries (literally, word by word). It looked like that:

I’ve written down the words I thought were the best fit:

Actually there were too much. I could’t make a presentation with about 50 options — I usually make A/B versions. Explanation is simple — the client mustn’t get distracted. In this case I didn’t manage to choose two but I chose six instead. I tried to pick words which had different emotional colouring and see what my teammates thought about that.

So, the words were: течія (stream), промені (rays of light), синтеза (synthesis), рух (movement), промова (~speech), новотвір (~new creation).

Presenting the name

For each name I’ve made 4 slides (24 slides for 6 names). The structure consisted of the visualization + name (usually a photo which presented the mood of the name), words mood board, symbols which can represent the name and some photos/images to emphasise the effect. In the article I’ll repeat the structure.

Images — Unsplash

Оption 1 — Течія (stream)

So, let’s start with mood words. They are: blood, ancestry, flow, Ukraine, culture, nature, technology, culture code, river of life, heritage, ease, art, history.

Symbols to represent the name:

From the beginning of our discussion about the name, the “tree” concept have been mentioned several times. I thought that the river was much more interesting — it founds its way everywhere, it can destroy stones and such characteristics match good with Ukrainian mentality. The veins mean that our culture is in our blood, in our history, in our heritage. The symbol with veins is a bit creepy though — taking into account I seriously thought about veins/hand as a logo (stylised, of course).

The mood of the name is traditional yet modern. The river of life connects us all — the dead and the living to contribute to it, to cherish it, to be remembered.

Option 2 — Промені (rays of light)

The mood words: meaning, learning, study, sense, smart, calm, sun, silver lining, hope, outstanding people, everlasting, culture, history.

Symbols to represent the name:

The sun rays mean that everything will be fine. There is hope. This is consistent with the idea that where there is a cultural foundation, there will always be hope.

The sun is the oldest symbol known to man. No need to talk about its greatness. Here we have a play on words, “meaning” — we are talking about it. About the truth. Sense.

Mood is inspirational, brave, patriotic. Just like the rays of sun we reveal the truth and bring it to people.

Option 3 — Синтеза (synthesis)

Mood words: group, something new, modern, inspire, flow, educational, art, culture, elegant, literature, history.

Symbols to represent the name:

This name represents the synthesis of the old and the new elements of culture, the union of people who create and learn.

Other words to describe the concept are: artistic, intelligent, smart. The feeling evoked by the concept is ‘calm inspiration’ — like when you see sunbeams in the art museum — bringing new thoughts, ideas, inspiration.

Option 4 — Рух(movement)

Mood words: power of will, riot, movement, nation, change, speak loud, together, make history, protest, people.

Symbols to represent the name:

This concept is about the power of people who’ve gathered together to change history — but this time on a special platform. They are brave, powerful and hard-working.

Mood is just like the Ukrainian mentality is — strong-willed, brave, valiant and hearty. The images you see above are about movement and change.

Option 5 — Промова (~speech)

Mood words: history, speak loud, reveal the truth, brave, daring, speech, education, language, culture, appeal to people.

Symbols to represent the name:

We have something to say. We won’t keep silent. We are brave and daring.

Curiosity, interest, inspiration — these things should be evoked by the concept. Together with the feeling of deep pride for your country and history.

Option 6 — Новотвір (~new creation)

Mood words: work together, create together, power of creation, culture, group of people, artistic, history, old and new, elegant, literature, clean, new heights.

Symbols to represent the name:

The concept is about the group of people who’ve come together to create and support their unique culture and to create new senses inside their culture.

Pictures you see depict the sensual part of the concept: feeling of freedom to create absolutely anything without any fear. Blue sky, rays of sun, friends who support you, getting inspired.

The chosen one

It was hard to pick the name. The team liked everything, that’s why the best option has been elected through a poll we’ve made in Slack. The ‘Rooh’ has won. Together we’ve decided that it is the best choice — it depicts everything we are going to represent. It is about our movement, our team, our power and the spirit of change.

The next article will cover the creation of the visual part of all this.

Follow Rooh on Linkedin and Facebook.

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