"Where did you get the name?"
If I had a tenner for every time we get asked this at 256,
well, I’d have a lot of tenners.
On a recent long haul flight, I was chatting to another passenger and we got to talking about children's’ names. She had three kiddos, I have one. We were musing on what a big responsibility, and honour, it is to name an actual person. And then we shared our naming stories. Everyone has one.
It doesn’t have quite the same level of duty attached, but naming an agency, or any business, also calls for a bit of consideration.
At the time I launched 256 in 2013, there was a definite trend in agency-land towards seemingly random names or even whole sentences. Like the days of the week or the name of a fruit – with no disrespect to any agency called Wednesday or Mango.
Some of these options actually made our longlist. The branding experts out there would probably have a melt-down at the thought of this slapdash approach to naming a business.
Eventually, we thought about the story of the agency we wanted to create, where we were coming from and where we were going to. And therein lies the secret sauce.
I came from journalism. I've worked in content all my life with a career in magazines and media. But we all know the future is digital. And we wanted to show brands how to own their content in this evolving digital ecosystem.
So, we called ourselves 256. There are two reasons why.
256 is a number found everywhere in digital. It’s super-prime. It is the number of colours available in a GIF, it’s the typical number of different values in a digital colour image. It appears a lot in computer applications as it’s the greatest number you can get when counting in binary with eight bits.
256 even has its own day to celebrate the Day of the Programmer (September the 13th or September 12th in leap years).
Of course, words are important for a content agency, but it’s how they connect that makes the difference. 256 seemed like a no brainer.
And now to the second reason.
I only know all this about the number 256 because a year before we launched the agency the head of maths at an important Irish university was at a party at my house. He was very taken with a cushion I had made with the number 256 on it in orange felt.
And the reason I had made this in the first place? It’s the number of my house.
So yes, our agency is named after my house too. But a cool agency would never admit to that.