The origin of Trig
In 2010, I got tired of subleasing office space from an engineering firm and was frustrated with my lack of traction. For a few months, I was working from my home office and seeking employment instead of new business while wrapping up MBA studies at NCSU. As fate would have it, a number of things fell into place that renewed my enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. First, a few key client projects in door hardware and outdoor seating were awarded, giving new life to the company. Next, I decided to pursue the virtual model, not out of lack of resources, but as a cultural and competitive advantage. The savings on office accouterments could be applied to content marketing and a new website platform on Squarespace. Finally, and most impactful, I decided to change the brand name to reflect a bigger vision for the company, taking the focus off of me and making space for a team.
My exploration of name ideas pulled me back to my kayaking background and love of water sports. Playing with a nautical theme, I looked at adding new meaning to a variety of common terms. Having decided on an Explorer archetype, an outdoor theme mixed with daring and strength just made sense. Ultimately, what jumped out at me was the word Outrigger, which is a class of ocean-faring boats commonly used in Polynesian and Micronesian cultures. The Outrigger derives its stability from the Ama, which is a secondary hull attached by two beams to the primary vessel. The resulting stability matches a much larger craft, yet gets the speed and efficiency of a narrow hull.
Outrigger canoes are designed as racing craft with up to six people. Particularly exciting are the races between the islands of Hawaii where the teams have to work really hard to climb up the Pacific swells. As they crest the top of the wave, the lead paddler has a moment where he can no longer reach the water, but is hanging out over space. Then, the rest of the boat clears the wave and the entire craft zooms downhill only to start back up again. Crazy fun.
I liked the symbolism of Outrigger as a consulting metaphor, that we would come alongside the client to add stability and efficiency with shared goals and destinations, Outrigger is a bit of a mouthful, but at it’s center is the word Trig, shorthand for trigonometry. Now, most people cringe to think of their high school math classes, but I liked the dichotomy of naming a creative industrial design consultancy after a math concept. It speaks to the need for BOTH the analytical and creative sides of our brain to successfully bring new products to market.
The uncertain risk of the name Trig was a potential association with another innovation methodology called TRIZ, which is a Russian acronym that translates to “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving”. There are many books on the method, but the best is the original by the author Genrich Altshuller titled, And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared. TRIZ is an interesting methodology, especially for solving physics-based engineering problems, but hasn’t been particularly relevant to the challenges we face on a daily basis. Fortunately, the methodology is fairly obscure, so we’ve not had to combat that association very often.
Up to Speed
Trig, as any brand name, took a while to take hold. At first, it was simply an empty file folder in people’s minds, with comments of “oh, you changed your company name... guess we’ll see a new name from you in the next few years.” As the old name was forgotten, the new brand of Trig came to represent the complete experience of new clients and employees as promised were made and kept, both contractually and implicitly through a cohesive commitment to delivering on our value proposition.
It was so exciting to be able to purchase the trig.com domain name in 2018 (We have a whole story on that here!) because it represents the culmination of a big yet fragile vision from long ago.
To further build on our brand family, the Trig Team has decided to rename our newsletter from the not-creative title, “Newsletter” to “The Outrigger”. Our mission with The Outrigger is to provide articles that inform and entertain with topics relevant to current events in design spaces, explanations of tricky industry concepts, reviews of books we enjoy that we think you ought to give a try, and all sorts of inspiring miscellany from around the web. (Thank you for joining us on our adventure with this new look!)