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Change is Expensive

10/14/14

Watching the invoices come in and the checks go out while I make these changes to Alesya Bags can be disheartening.  Change is expensive.  Besides the ongoing costs for for things like leather, zippers, lining and shipping I’ve now thrown into the mix extra R&D, stationary redesign, website changes and new packaging.  You can see how things add up.

But, Ms. Oprah, what I know for sure is that change is coming.  Better to do it now rather than later – because later will most certainly be even more expensive than now.

….

Before starting Alesya Bags I was Vice President of Marketing for ePrize – the largest promotion agency in the world.  Around the end of 2005 my boss and CEO of the company, Josh Linkner came to me and said we should thinking about changing the name from ePrize to something less dated.

Founded in 1999, the name ePrize reeked of an era (as Wikipedia references) that “was marked by the founding (and, in many cases, spectacular failure) of a group of new Internet-based companies commonly referred to as dot-coms. Companies could cause their stock prices to increase by simply adding an “e-” prefix to their name or a “.com” to the end, which one author called ‘prefix investing.'”  Not exactly cutting edge.

To find the new name, we enlisted the help of Ann Arbor based Perich Advertising +Design who had crafted our original branding.  During one of the meetings Josh and I sat in their conference room while Ernie Perich and his team covered the walls from floor to ceiling with new names.  For a marketer that kind of possibility is like a party of New Year’s Eve.  Fun, fun, fun.

After we stared in awe at the mass of names, Ernie encouraged us to take the names we liked off the wall and place them on the table.  My favorite name – Caffeine – was used for a subsequent product.  (I still love that name – who doesn’t want more caffeine in their life?!)

Another idea was to change the tagline to ePrize: Results in Black & White.  Ernie liked the idea because when a company runs a promotion they know exactly how well it did – how many email opt-ins, how many people entered, the amount of sales generated by people who engaged.  He suggested we change everything to black and white – our logo, the website, even the building.

On that note can we just stop for a minute and fantasize about all black and white offices?

Black and White Office[Via]

Miranda+Priestly+Office+black+white+office[Via]

Black and White Office 2[Via]

Douglas Friedman Space[Via]

While I still dream about the black and white idea at the time it left my head spinning.  We had recently renovated the offices in our current colors – bright green, purple and red.  Can you image explaining to someone that no, they couldn’t have that raise because we were going to rip out perfectly fine carpeting and replace it with black?  Or all those new chairs just simply wouldn’t do?  Not exactly shrewd business moves.

Ultimately we decided not to change the name for two reasons.  One – a name change signifies either something major has changed (a merger, acquisition, etc.) or something was wrong.  At the time, neither one of these things were true.  Two – It was going to be pricey.  The cost of new business cards alone would be $10,000+.  Can you image how much it would be to change everything – a new website, signage and all new building decor?  Not to mention the PR and advertising campaign need to roll out that kind of change.  Ouch.

….

Going through that experience earlier in my career makes these change so much easier.  It’s just me – there’s no leadership team to convince or board to vote on the idea.  Rather than thousands of new business cards there will be only a few hundred.  There’s a cost but it’s much, much less than it would be even a year from now.

With that in mind I’ll keep writing the checks.  I can see the end goal.  It’s as clear as black and white.

Post Sript:  In 2014 ePrize did change its name to HelloWorld.  I’m sure it was even more challenging for the team who created the transformation than it would have been several years ago.  Change is inevitable.  If you know it needs to happen, do it now.

 

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