Interview with the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards Winner Maria Cypher

By Staff

July 18, 2022

Maria Cypher is the Creative Director and co-founder of Catchword and has kickstarted iconic names like Upwork, VW Atlas, Asana, and Starbucks Refreshers!

Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your creative background.

I’m the Creative Director of Catchword, a naming and branding agency I co-founded in 1998. Since then, I’ve created hundreds of names, including Asana, Upwork, VW Atlas, Vudu, and Starbucks Refreshers. I also had a prior life as a reporter and magazine editor, and have dabbled in writing children’s books—so it’s pretty obvious that verbal expression is a big part of my life. But I’m also in a band and derive tremendous joy and satisfaction from music (both partaking and listening), which I consider another form of creativity.

What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?

If you feel the creative impulse, I don’t know that it’s a choice. Right out of college, I worked in finance for two years; I liked the concreteness of numbers and neat reconciliations, but it wasn’t creative enough for me. I found myself inexorably drawn to the creative expression of language. …

Maria CypherTo you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?

A creative name communicates the essence of a company or product, sometimes descriptively, sometimes obliquely. There are those creative names that everyone considers creative—catchy, unexpected, bold. But there also can be creativity in concisely capturing a product’s benefits in clear, everyday language that resonates with the target audience. At Catchword, we’re extremely proud of our diversity of naming styles that reflects the diversity of our clientele. …

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