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Un-Book Review: Harold’s Fairy Tale (Further Adventures With the Purple Crayon)

July 15, 2013

Okay, it’s not really a book review, although this is a real book. In it, Harold uses a purple crayon to draw magical pictures that come to life. In Harold’s Fairy Tale, he meets a king, a fairy, a giant witch and visits an enchanted garden, which has no flowers; all of which spring from his imagination. Clearly Harold is a very lonely child.

But, this book, actually Harold’s crayon is what inspired the name of my first consulting company, Purple Crayon Club. The name was both an inspiration and really stupid.

The idea was that Harold’s purple crayon could make things come to life. That’s not a bad image for a consultant. We try to work magic for our clients. Sometimes we are called on to literally start with a blank page, or an empty whiteboard and draw a solution to the customer’s problem. That’s what I wanted Purple Crayon Club to accomplish.

One of the benefits was that people remembered me. Well, my company anyway, and since most of the time I was a one man shop, it was me. I had clients that I didn’t see for several months. When I returned it was

Hey, you’re the purple crayon guy!

Many consulting company names blend together. Take any three terms from the following list and add “consulting” and you’ve got a new name.

Advanced
Network
Internet
Agile
Technologies
Systems

Purple Crayon let me stand out from the crowd.

A downside was that it’s not a particularly serious name. But, 100% of my work came from referrals. So, I didn’t have to put an ad in a trade journal with my company name and try to convince people I deserved $150 / hour based on my company name.

There were some downsides. The biggest was that we constantly got mistaken for a day care center. We eventually replaced “Club” with “Consulting.” That helped. . .a little. The history of our little company can be seen in our business cards.

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The first card was based on an existing template. Unfortunately, none of the crayons were actually purple. No one seemed to notice.

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After I went to work for Microsoft my wife took over PCC. Our logo was homemade. Notice that her email address was more CompuServe than internet.

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After I left Microsoft I started working on Exchange to GroupWise communication. I was going for a “subdued” look on this card. What I got instead was a boring card.

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Eventually I got better at both the consulting and the logo. This is still my favorite business card. I think I created it in PowerPoint. Hey, you use what you know.

Not sure I have any great advice for how to pick a company name. I decided I wanted to go for a friendly look. It accomplished that, but added it’s own challenges as well.

I’ll stay with the consulting theme this week and mix in some Microsoft stories at the end of the week. Here’s the schedule.

Monday: Un-Book Review. . .Purple Crayon Club
Tuesday: On Being a World Expert
Wednesday: Overplaying a Recommendation (This one still makes me cringe to think about it.)
Thursday: No Camping . . .But the place I saw the sign will surprise you
Friday: Don’t Pollute The Waste Streams. . .Not all garbage is created equal

About the author
Rodney M. Bliss is an author, blogger and IT consultant. His current consulting company is 13 Kids Productions. He lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with his lovely wife and 13 kids. . .it’s a production.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)

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