Firesteel: What’s with our name?

Written by Erin Murphy, Director of Education and Advocacy Network, YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish.

“So what’s with the name?” I hear this question a lot and at first glance, it doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with family homelessness or the YWCA. Yet it was quite the collaborative process selecting the name and we are very excited about our name Firesteel and what it represents.

A firesteel creates the spark that starts a fire. This struck us as an inspiring concept for advocacy and creating a spark for change. Check out what an actual firesteel looks like in this picture:

Photo credit: Think Geek

Many people participated in selecting the name. We invited YWCA board members and staff from not only our YWCA Seattle I King I Snohomish but also other Washington YWCAs. We narrowed it down to 5 choices and then took a vote. Firesteel emerged the winner and fortunately was also legally available.

You may still be wondering, “Why did Firesteel win?” Well, beyond the imagery of a spark for change, we wanted a strong name that stood out as memorable. It’s true that our name does not have any obvious indicators that connect it to our mission of family homelessness, but rather than potentially getting lost in another acronym, we wanted a single word that made us stop and think.

The name Firesteel also lended itself well to a creative logo, which we fashioned after an abstract flame. We believe the color green of the logo helps to balance the boldness of the name with a sense of growth, life, and hope.

Another common question is often, “Why the separate branding? If you are a YWCA network, why not use the name YWCA?” It’s a good question and we certainly don’t want to obscure our YWCA relationship! However, we very intentionally chose separate branding in order to respect the differences amongst the participating YWCAs. YWCAs are independent organizations that are also members of the national YWCA USA. Together we are dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all; yet each individual YWCA can pursue these goals with flexibility, prioritizing issues and causes as their leadership chooses. As a YWCA network, Firesteel collectively identifies and advocates for two to three priorities a year directly relating to family homelessness, yet leaving room for a variety of opinions in other areas.

For whatever differences may exist, all YWCAs are committed to ending family homelessness and housing is a common thread across all of our programs and services. We are excited to have the name Firesteel encapsulate a statewide advocacy effort, and you may notice that in some spaces we even add “WA” to the end of Firesteel to identify with Washington state.

It takes a while to build a brand and identity, and we are still working to strengthen our brand. We’re slowly but surely making our way up to the top of Google search and just need to pass a few more fancy Swedish fire starter companies! However, I want to emphasize that more important than building a brand and a name, we want to build a community of advocates committed to ending family homelessness. A name and a website help with recognition, but ultimately a reputation relies on relationships. We want to get to know you, hear your voice, and help elevate it to realize change. If you’d like to get to know us too and learn how to connect further, I encourage you to do the following:

1)  View the video below in which I share our approach to policy advocacy and invite you join our community:

2) On social media? Follow us to join our conversations. You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, YouTube and Pinterest.

3) Subscribe to our blog on the homepage to be alerted every time we have a new post. (If this is not available yet, I promise it will be soon!)

4) Register to connect not only to us but also your legislators. We can help you make an impact by personalizing the issue to your location and voting district.

So there you have it! The how, why, and what behind the name Firesteel. Any feedback now that you know the story behind it?

Get the Firesteel Blog in Your Inbox