We recently changed our name from d.trio marketing group to cat&tonic. As you can imagine, it’s a major ordeal. This is our story of going through the process and the lessons I learned along the way. Perhaps they’ll help those of you who might be considering a big change.
Our name change had been a long time coming. Even after I bought out my business partners a few years ago, our old name still seemed appropriate. But after going through a tough year where everything was turned upside down, I decided it was time to move forward. We were already in the middle of reconstructing our business and updating our website, and it just seemed like the right time.
When we began to tell people, they were intrigued, curious, and wondered why now?
1. Listen mostly to your gut
Everybody’s “why now?” is different. Listen to people you respect and your employees, but most of all listen to your gut. Give yourself the time and space to process and make the decision. When it’s time, you and your colleagues will know it.
d.trio marketing group was born out of a business partnership that no longer existed, and our brand focused narrowly on financial services and direct marketing. It served us well for a long time, but there was a disconnect with who we had become.
Our naming process took us through words and characteristics that embody who we are now and what we represent to our clients. We thought about how to modernize our name. It was important for us to embrace who we had become now and how we saw ourselves going forward. And most importantly, it needed to reflect our POV and competitive differentiator: Intelligent Creative—an approach to marketing that puts the focus on the values and psychological drivers of an audience.
2. Your name should represent who you are now
You never know what the right timing for a brand change will be, but as we advise our clients, if you’ve been in business a while and your name no longer represents who you are or what your business culture or client work is, it’s probably time for a new name and brand. Another consideration is your brand equity. If your name has a lot of brand equity, it might be time to update your logo and brand visuals and messaging, but not your name.
Truth be told, I just went through the hardest year of my life. From experiencing deep personal loss and health issues to professional challenges, I was tested in many ways. All of this was challenging for my loyal employees too.
I wanted us to see the future through the fog of the past and let go to create something better. So, rather than dictating a new name or making it about me, together we created a name we could all get behind.
3. Embrace change with positivity
Change will happen whether you want it to or not. It feels vulnerable because it’s often not a choice, but you get to direct it. Change comes with many challenges—some anticipated and some unforeseen. But forging ahead with resilience and a positive attitude will only make you stronger.
We knew not everyone would understand or approve of our new name. One person made his dislike for our new name very clear. He went out of his way to publicly bully and shame one of my employees (and me) on LinkedIn, questioning our process and ridiculing me and the business in a series of comments—a few others even liked what he had to say. The whole thing was insulting and needlessly mean-spirited.
But his actions were the exception. Many of our clients, friends, colleagues, business associates and partners supported us with messages of joy and encouragement. We are so grateful for those people and their understanding of what we’re trying to do.
4. Haters gonna hate
Brand changes (in particular) can bring out the haters. Social media makes it easy to see content and interact in ways that are less than professional. You need to have thick skin and be ready to deal with bullying comments.
To be clear, we expected constructive criticism and open dialog. What we didn’t expect was bullying in the sheep’s clothing of truth-telling and objective feedback.
Although we used positive humor to deal with our hater, he doubled down. Ultimately my employee thanked him for his input and got on with her life. Later he deleted his own comments after he was shamed by a friend of ours. We didn’t ask for that support, or expect it, but we certainly appreciated it.
5. Don’t engage with bullies
If you get bullied, take the high road. It might sting a little but engaging with online bullies only escalates their actions and spreads the virus. In the long run, bullies will outlast you or cause you to say things you might regret. Don’t give them that power.
The cat&tonic name represents our rise from difficulties and our curiosity and passion for the work we do. We love the energy of the brand—it’s keeping us looking up, staying positive, and moving forward.
For other companies who are considering change, we’re here to help you see your future and take your business to the next level. It’s what we do best.