08 Apr 2019 • by Lisa

What’s your thing with canaries anyway?

Naming things in a meaningful way is hard. Babies, pets, types of lego bricks that your 5yo is desperate to find but you have no clue what a ‘flat glowy two-er with a slidy-part’ looks like (in case you’re wondering, in our house that’s this but in translucent neon yellow).

Naming Our Canary was no less daunting. Names mean things, names communicate things, and names take on a life of their own. So you want to get it right, for it to feel right and for it to say something about the thing’s purpose.

We looked at our brand values - what are the things we believe? And at the impact we want to have in the lives of people that use Our Canary. And we got down to a few priorities:

Gender neutral

Working and looking after family is something lots of people need to get done, and it’s no longer just the job of ‘mum’ to care for kids. We’re all in this messy working parent juggle, dads, mums, grandparents, neighbours. Gender is irrelevant. We also reject the trend for giving chatbots and personal assistants or service agents female names. Like it’s a woman’s job to be in service of everyone else. Yuk. No thank you. So anything obviously gendered was out.

Friendly and reliable

Our Canary is a pal, an assistant, someone that’s got your back, is on your team. We’re there day to day helping you get done what you get done. So an approachable and friendly name was important. Not something too robotic, and not something too frivolous, just right.

For us, being a chatbot, it also had to be, well, chatty. It had to avatar nicely - be something that could easily be resembled in that tiny piece of facebook messenger real estate that is the profile pick in your conversation list. It had to stand out in your notification panel, so that when we send you an alert or a reminder you see it! (kinda the whole point…) And of course it had to work nicely across social media, web, mobile, corporate coms …. etc. ad infinitum.


A big difference of what Our Canary delivers to people, compared to plain normal planners or calendars, is proactivity. Our Canary looks forwards at your plans, and actively helps you manage that future. This could be by switching responsibility for the school run from one parent to another, or prompting you to remember 50p for the bake sale on Friday. Most importantly our goal is to warn you if there are problems coming down the road. To spot problems before they hit you, and while you have a chance to dodge them! And so exploring that led us to look at other ‘early warning systems’, and bingo - canaries in the coal mines. Little assistants that act like a little alarm bells - warning miners to escape from noxious gases that the bird could smell but the miners couldn’t.

And there we are - Our Canary was named!

p.s. if you’re wondering, it’s ‘Our’ Canary, not ‘My’ Canary, because working family life is a team sport, and helping you work together as a team is our goal.

p.p.s. the bird itself has a name too… one for a post on another day :)

p.p.p.s the goolge image search to find the right lego brick took longer than writing this post 🤦‍