How we got our name

During the first few weeks after my eldest son was born, I couldn’t get from one end of the street to the other without someone stopping me to bill and coo.

“Isn’t he handsome?” they said. “He looks just like you!” they added. Thanks folks, I took that as a compliment, but couldn’t help wondering why no-one ever stopped ME in the street to tell me I was handsome.

Anyway, what’s that got to do with web design? Well nothing really, but I do still have something that people remark on almost daily.
The name of our business.

Canary Dwarf was chosen in a moment of inspiration and I’m often asked where the name comes from, so I thought I would explain.
In the 90s, I had found myself, whether by accident or design, inescapably entrenched in the newspaper industry.

To cut a long story short, I had become so taken with the concept of desktop publishing that I started a printing business that required me to buy into the technology. From printing I ventured into publishing and was soon using the technology (ahead of its time) to produce a tabloid newspaper, albeit rather small and rather niche).

At the time, Eddie Shah was also making the news by starting a national newspaper called Today using such technology on a wide scale in London’s docklands.

And many big publishers including the Telegraph and Financial Times, followed him and soon Canary Wharf became the new Fleet Street.

Smaller publishers of weekly newspapers were calling on me to advise them what technologies they should be using, as they started to realise the cost and workflow benefits.

I was doing what the big companies were doing in Canary Wharf, on a much smaller scale – and the name Canary Dwarf was born, and registered, on 15 July 2000.

My vision then was to start a consultancy, but instead I started a family, and while that wasn’t in itself a restriction, I had moved into production journalism and was quite happy, and Canary Dwarf as a business idea was put on the back burner.

But when the tectonic plates of the publishing industry decided to move again with the advent of the web, I was once again at the front of the queue, lifting up the corners to see what was going on underneath.

I wanted to see what was driving this new publishing medium and found myself once again getting involved with something that was new and untested.

And so Canary Dwarf was reborn, this time as a proper, full-time digital agency, and although we now provide mainly services for the web and mobile platforms, media still plays a big role in our business.

And while we try to be different in what we offer, our name is the one thing that catches the eye every time and makes people comment.
It’s our ice-breaker, and I never look back on the day it flashed through my head, and became the business name we have today.

It was even mentioned in The Drum magazine in their round-up of the UK’s top thirty ‘interesting’ agency names, alongside Kiss The Frog and Rubber Cheese.

We still have links with journalism and publishing, and we’re still small. Neither of those will change, that’s how we like it.
So if you ever wondered what’s in a name. That’s where Canary Dwarf came from.

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