Interview with the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards Winner –
Mark Skoultchi is the Principal and Project Lead at Catchword, and is responsible for creating brands all over the world with one catchy name!
I’m Mark Skoultchi, a Principal and the Project Lead at Catchword Branding, ranked the #1 naming agency in the world for the past six years by Clutch. I head Catchword’s East Coast operations (New York), though my clients hail from all around the country and the world.
I joined the company in its early days, more than 20 years ago, after earning a BA in history from Brandeis, a JD from SUNY Buffalo, and several years as a creative director at Interbrand. Over the past decade or so I’ve come to love design as much as writing and have taken up building websites for friends in my spare time. Like many of my Catchword colleagues, music is central to my life, so on any given Sunday, you’ll find me playing guitar or listening to a new band.
What made you become/why did you choose to become a creative?
I’ve always been attracted to exploring the possible, to facilitating expression, to finding the most strategic and engaging way to communicate ideas. Because if no one understands you or is moved to listen, it doesn’t matter what you’re saying.
Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
The Catchword team are experts in every aspect of brand naming, from brand and naming strategy to name development to domain names to visual identity design. At Catchword, the team works together very closely, so whether you’re on the “account” side or the “creative” side, you weigh in on creative every day. I evaluate names and designs and often contribute to idea development and refinement in addition to managing projects, pitching business, and researching and developing strategy.
What does “creativity” mean to you?
My perspective on creativity is communication focused, so for me creativity always involves making a connection with an audience, even if that’s an audience of one.
To you, what makes a “creative” idea and/or design?
A creative idea uses imagination to connect with others in meaningful ways. It engages heart and mind, expresses your truth. It builds trust so that your audience is open enough to hear you, so that they can recognize a piece of themselves and their truth in your message.
Tell us about your creative and/or design process.
At Catchword, we use a proven process evolved over more than two decades working with clients in every sector. Whether we are providing brand naming services only or a comprehensive strategy, naming, and design package, we begin with discovery: a deep dive into the client, their offerings, their needs, and their marketspace via research and interviews. Once we’ve immersed ourselves and have a clear understanding of their business and business objectives, we help the client crystalize their positioning and messaging.
For naming projects, we then work closely with the client to determine naming parameters, such as construction types (e.g., English words, invented words) and tonality. Developing this kind of creative brief is key for naming, copywriting, design, any creative project to ensure that your team and the client team are on the same page and to provide objectives by which to measure candidates. After the roadmap is sorted, we begin creative development.
Over two rounds (broad followed by deep exploration), we create a staggering number of candidates, covering every viable name message, construction, personality, and style (because you don’t always know what you want until you see it.) Client feedback guides our second round so that we can really zero in on names that resonate. Once the client has narrowed the field, we conduct trademark prescreening and cultural/linguistic evaluation on a smaller list of candidates to check availability and avoid inappropriate associations. Our design and copywriting processes are similar.
What’s your favorite part of the creative process and why?
I love the blue sky creative phase. Turn off that internal critic and explore those tangents, pull every thread, go ahead down that rabbit hole, at least until another metaphor grabs you. One of the magnificent things about project-based work is that every project is different, there’s no end to the new things you can explore and learn about. Creative work not only benefits from curiosity, it rewards it, and namers are the kings and queens of the curious. …