Your Name, Company Name, Website
Benjamin John Coleman, Origami Bonsai
The Moment I Thought We Might Not Make It
In June of 2009 I got an email from Tuttle Publishing. They were preparing to print my first book. They wanted to change the name of the book from "Origami Bonsai" to "Origami Flower Art." This represented a disaster as I had trademarked "Origami Bonsai," was planning to release set of "Origami Bonsai" folding papers, and had written two more books in the "Origami Bonsai" series (self-published electronically). I was also about to release the world's first mass-produced origami shape that opens instantly to reveal a flower. I had named these shapes "Origami Bonsai Instant Flowers."
How We Turned it Around
For about five years I have been collecting data every morning based on the search term "Origami Bonsai." In January of 2009, the results I retrieved through the Google search engine suddenly changed. No longer did a search for Origami Bonsai bring up superfluous results. The first page of results was dominated by my work, included pictures of my sculptures, and videos I had made. It was similar to the page you obtain by typing Michael Phelps' name. Origami Bonsai had become distinct (just like Michael Phelps) in terms of the way Google displayed results.
I sent an embarrassingly nasty email to Tuttle in response to their query about changing the book's name. I said I'd sue them, and that I never would have granted them publishing rights if I had known they would change the book's name. I also suggested they search, via Google, and look at the results. I told them they would see that Origami Bonsai was distinct. I pointed out how powerful that would be when the book was released.
I got an email back from Tuttle the next day. It was similar in tone to the one I had sent them; stressing their contractual right to change the book's name. In the last sentence it referenced the Google search results and said that the book's title would be my original, Origami Bonsai.
- My relationship with Tuttle was damaged by the email I sent them. I should not have been irate, nor should I have threatened legal action. I had a logical position, supported by verifiable data (Google search results), for keeping the name. I should have limited my email to that.
- The power of Google's search engine extends far beyond search results. Companies will make important decisions based on Google's response to a query.
- The work I did in 2008 to increase my rank in Google search results was worth the time I invested. It resulted in "Origami Bonsai" becoming a distinct search term.