The Šek Name

Why in the heck would we call it Šek?

Other than being able to use it in awesome phrases like, “Šek us out!” or “Šek the halls with balls of holly.” there’s actually a very logical reason for our unique name. To fully explain, let’s start by looking inward.

If our job is to use design as a way to creatively communicate our client’s stories to the rest of the world, why wouldn’t we do the same for ourselves?

The Problem: I grew up with the last name of Smisek, and for as long as I can remember, my classmates, teachers and coworkers continuously took it to the ropes and beat it up pretty bad. People would say, “Smy-sek”, “Smee-Check”, “Smiz-Ek”, and “Schmee-check”, always with a hesitation and the look of panic in their eye, and for 29 years I basically just let it slide. However, when I struck out to create a design business, I contemplated an extensive list of trendy, Duluth-centric names, but nothing seemed to strike a chord UNTIL I decided to address my own ‘public relations’ issue. “Hey! My name is hard to say. How can I use design to teach people the correct way to say Smišek?”

The Solution: Pronounced Smee-Shek, in the Czech language, my name would be spelled with an accent over the ‘s’ called a háček or hachek. The accent over the ‘s’ gives it a soft sound (sh), which explains the confusing second half of my name. I created our logo which uses the hachek accent over the ‘S’ and also doubles as a pencil tip above the ‘S’. By reminding people that the accent makes the ‘S’ soft, they started pronouncing the design business name AND our last name correctly. I’ve now found that people feel more confident, informed and willing to try saying our name, which is a HUGE improvement from before. Scroll down to see some other fun ways that we’ve used design to teach people about our name.