Naming and Branding Loss, Hope, and a Journey to Healing


How might we choose a name and build a brand around loss and healing?

We met PathLight’s founder years ago with his work with the Center for Acute Loss in Houston, TX. He and his team had since researched loss and moving through it to a re-envisioned life, and when they were ready to bring these ideas to the public in the form of a startup, they asked us for help. We were thrilled to embark on this journey with the team since we had all experienced so much loss during the pandemic, and we knew how many people would benefit from their ideas. First with the name, then with the logo and identity design, and then for their first consumer product, a series of cards with modalities to work through loss. 


We lead the startup team through two naming sessions: Naming Foundations and Naming Ideation. The first workshop aims to draw lines around the brand’s intention and how they would define an appropriate name. It’s part boundary setting and part competitive analysis to get to a place where we have standards for making a decision. Naming is a critical component of a new business, and it needed to occupy a space where it had room to grow. The Naming Ideation workshop is a series of creative explorations designed to generate many directions for a name. We don’t always get to name in this workshop — sometimes we run it a few times — but in this case, we did: Pathlights. 

The concept is: the work we do at PathLights is a guide through loss. It’s not pedantic or dogma-driven; we’re here to light the way to a new future and help you along the way. We thought about the directional lights in an airplane guiding passengers safely to an exit other wayfinding examples to get to this final name. 

Identity Design

After conducting our initial design research, we provided their team a series of mood boards to show how the brand identity system could work and resonate with their mass-market target demographic. Here is the final result, incorporating lights and bold typography.

Collateral Design

PathLights’ first product is a series of modalities to help people through loss, categorized into six types. We talked through with the team options for production and presentation, deciding that a flipbook with notecards would be the most efficient, market-friendly way to produce these. Each section contains different practices people can use and interpret to work through loss on their own terms or with friends. We’re so excited to see what comes next for PathLights.