Starting up or starting over is an exciting but nerve-racking time. In November 2013, we launched Red Caffeine, our new business, which I jokingly refer to as a ten-year-old start up. Among the top priorities for the start up of any business is launching your new or renewed brand into the marketplace. In our case, we were starting over and there were both positive and negative emotions tied to moving away from our old brand. We were certainly concerned about how much brand equity would be lost with the change, but ultimately, we were really excited. This gave us a chance to break free and reemerge with a brand that truly fit our new business vision.

The Name

Naming was the first step. We followed the same Namestorming process we would follow for clients, but we had three criteria for the new brand:

1. No animals or industry lingo

Our long-term vision is to foster great ideas and inspire internal entrepreneurship, so we did not want a name that would box us in or generalize our offering. As for the animals, the guys on our team just said this was a deal breaker. I have no idea why.

2. Honor our former brand

Good, bad and ugly, enough said. The majority of our team connected at the former company. We did not want to forget what we learned and how we could be so much better.

3. Unanimous adoption.

Our tight-knit, original eight team members would have to agree on the final selection. Our core team spent weeks vetting name ideas that would represent our flava! Many great options were generated, but there was only one name that we all agreed was a fit—Red Caffeine. Red describes our passion for our clients, our work and serving our community. It also gave a nod to our former brand whose brand color was, of course, red. Caffeine describes our high-energy approach and how we amplify our clients’ brands through marketing + technology. Yes, we get asked if we are a coffee shop, but our name is always a great conversation starter.

The Logo

Our logo was created next. Again, we let the long-term vision for the business guide our decision making. We explored icons and typography, ultimately deciding on simplicity. Badass brands don’t need a lot of gimmicks, and that is what we aspire to be. We invested in a unique business card that used old-school letterpress printing and hand-painted edges. We use so little paper in marketing today that we wanted our card to signify how we don’t settle for the status quo for our clients or ourselves.

The Story

The brand story was our next step—who we are, what we do, who we do it for and why we do it better. Honing the story behind our brand started with: We think different and that’s the +. Our unique blend of marketers + technologists is what truly sets us apart. Thus the marketing “+” technology tagline connects to our name and, in simple terms, describes what we do. We spent a great deal of time defining our market message, our services and what clients we would be best positioned to serve. But the fun part was defining why we do it better. Our clear market
advantage would definitely be our company culture. It all starts with our team. Prior to the prelaunch, we spent a great deal of time exploring our business purpose and core values. We have formed a culture around those values, and we won’t make a hire or work with a client who is not a values match.

A Positive Outlook

The response to the new brand has been overwhelmingly positive, both internally and externally. The original announcement reinvigorated interest from old clients and old friends. Many were just well-wishers, but some new opportunities have definitely come our way. Internally, our team has a brand and brand story they helped create. Anyone on the team can speak to our brand message and that is powerful. We find internal alignment on the brand stories to be one of the biggest challenges for companies we meet with, and while we are definitely not perfect, we work on it all the time. So what’s next? Email, search engine, direct mail, experiential, and social media marketing, of course.

Kathy Steele


Meet The Author

I am passionate about people, obsessed with helping businesses grow, and love to support the underdog cause in my community. As a business leader, I'm an educated risk-taker who persevered through challenging economic conditions and a business divorce to be a two-time honoree on Inc. Magazines Annual List of America's Fastest-Growing Private Companies.

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