Being In The Understanding Business

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TUG’s been fortunate in so many ways in the 8+ years we’ve been in business. Among the earliest and most substantial has to do with how and where we got our name.

The Understanding Group. TUG.

Short version of the story: it’s an homage to the company Richard Saul Wurman ran in San Francisco in the 1980s, which was called The Understanding Business.

Mr. Wurman gave us permission to use a knock-off of the TUB logo when we started the company in 2011, and we’ve since received U.S. Trademark protection for our logo and name.

One of the designers who worked for Wurman at TUB shared these reflections on the name, and on the business of understanding, on her blog:

TUB stands for The Understanding Business. A clever name coined for a design firm/guidebook publisher in the business of “making information understandable.”

Understand? No, you’re not alone. Ironically, those of us who worked there spent years trying to explain the name.

Our boss, Richard Saul Wurman, architect, designer and co-founder of the TED Conference, came up with it. He waxed lyrical when asked to describe the name in an interview with Information Design:

“It is a peculiar word because it has the word ‘under’ and ‘standing’ in it: what does that mean? How did that happen? ‘Under’ is a negative term, and ‘standing’, which is a different thing, those two words together create a word of such warmth. I named a company ‘The Understanding Business’; the initials are TUB. This has two meanings: the fact that I have a big pot belly and because Archimedes was in a bathtub when he said, ‘Eureka, I understand!’ For me, it is all about understanding.”

Try explaining that at a cocktail party.

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