Note: This blog was written before Tyton Sound became SoundWise in 2023.
There are two questions I’m often asked about my company:
Where does the name Tyton come from?
What’s with the owl?
Fortunately for everyone, they have more-or-less the same answer.
One of the challenges I have in the business of sound, is people tend to grasp visuals much easier than they do sounds. Visuals are very apparent, whereas sounds tend to be a little more elusive. They’re often in the background of people’s lives. This is evidenced even by the way we consume media. Video is widely available in high-definition and sometimes 4K. You have to almost press your face to the screen before you see pixelation. Audio is still presented in compressed formats and often played on a smartphone – one of the poorest sounding music players available.
In addition, I often finding myself explaining auditory concepts using visual analogies.
So when it came time to start my business, I knew I wanted something visual with which to brand the company, but not anything to do with sound. The idea of using sound imagery like a speaker or waveform felt clichéd and banal. Sure they’re more connected with what I do, but they don’t make an impact. They don’t have any emotional content.
I decided I needed something fresh to brand the business. It took a while, but I eventually found myself stuck on the owl. While it isn’t directly associated with sound, I felt it conveyed the image I was after. To me it had the right combination of the serious side of a business, with the whimsical side of a creative environment.
Now that I had a brand image, I needed a name.
I knew I didn’t want to use my last name. It’s been butchered enough over the years both in terms of pronunciation and spelling. I wanted to bring the owl image into the name, but owl isn’t a very good word. It’s awkward to say. It doesn’t look great on paper. It also doesn’t lend itself to a unique web domain name.
In my desperation, I started looking up scientific names of owls. This particular owl (which, for those who were wondering, is a barn owl) had a name starting with the word ‘Tytonidae”. So we just cut that in half and got Tyton.