What’s your gutmonkey?

We all know that CafePress is about more a lot more than T-shirts. The power of self-expression is what drives this business, and it’s the reason we have such a passionate, outspoken group of users.

In the past, we’ve used words like “passion” to describe our users’ feelings about a certain thing, but that word doesn’t really capture the gut-level obsession that so many people have that move them to express themselves. Some folks have a message coming from the heart, some from the mind… but all of them have that gut-level instinct and desire that moves them to create or buy something that tells the world what their “Thing” is.

Thing is, “Thing” isn’t a great word to describe that “Thing.” And so, in our spare time (that commute’s good for something), a couple of us figured we’d try to think of a better word to help us explain and describe CafePress and what it means to our users.

The Japanese word “otaku” is a person who has an obsession with something, or an uber-fan.  Marketing guru Seth Godin uses this word in his how-to-be-remarkable Marketing tome “Purple Cow,” and while it’s a great word and very descriptive it’s already been popularized.  Plus we may be missing some subtlety in the translation.  And so, while “otaku” is actually a great word for our users (and really fun to shout out loud – try it, you’ll feel empowered – yes, you. Really, try it.), we are forced to move on to find a new way to describe the nature of our business and what it means.

So, as you may have guessed from the title of this blog, the word we’ve come up with thus far is (drumroll…): gutmonkey.

Yes, it’s sort of a silly word. And we’re not married to it – y’all are welcome to come up with something else. But it’s better than “hobsession” (hobby + obsession), and at the time of this writing it holds the distinction as being a word that returns ZERO results in the CafePress marketplace – something nearly impossible to do if a word already exists (and we’re sure one of you will fill in that zero result for us – go for it). So this tells us that we’ve made up a word.  And that’s good.  It’s fun to say, too.  And that’s also good.

So what’s a gutmonkey?

There are lots of idioms that involve monkeys.  Most of them are quite fun, all of them very colorful. Gutmonkey stems from a slang word and a colloquialism. It’s the monkey on your back, but in your gut. And not in a destructive way, but in a good way. You know?

More simply: gutmonkey is that deep-seated desire/obsession/passion/addiction that, gut-level, inspires your action. Your gutmonkey might be as fun as a barrel of monkeys, or it might be a more serious cause that stirs up the activist inside you. (Monkeys aren’t generally known for being docile and quiet, after all.) Your gutmonkey invokes the commitment and fiery passion/addiction, and the gut-level inspiration that moves you to action.

If you’ll drive 30 miles to find The Best BBQ Joint Ever, BBQ (or finding the best local food, etc) is your gutmonkey.  (Mmm… BBQ)

You might not like this word, and that’s OK.  Just so you know: we’re not married to it, but until y’all come up with something better we’re going with it.

And if you love the word, do feel free to toss some designs into the Marketplace.  Who knows?  You may start a gutmonkey frenzy, and we’ll definitely feature our favorites on the blog.  (Monkeys are fun anyway.)

So, 2 questions for you:

1) What’s your gutmonkey?
2) …and do you have a better word for it?

Let us know. Blog@cafepress.com or post a comment here.

  1. As soon as I read ‘gutmonkey’ I wanted to know what it meant. I like the sound of it (maybe because it reminds me of ‘butt-monkey’ and the whole business of monkeys flying out of butts). My gutmonkey, by the way, is personal evolution. That’s what my store Evolver is all about- creating products that reflect personal and global change for the better.

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