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What’s in a name? The future of your business

What you call your company is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make as an entrepreneur—yet many companies get it wrong.  Fortunately, there are second chances on this front, if you’re open to the idea of rebranding.

Cogs & Marvel, an event experience agency whose team I met at my Scaling Up workshop in Shannon, Ireland, is a good case in point. The agency is based in Dublin and San Francisco.

It is hard to be objective about your own brand, so the agency—then called Green Light Events—embarked on its U.S. expansion strategy, it began working with The Pudding, a commercial and creative branding firm, to position itself.

Auditing a brand

One of the first steps The Pudding took was to do a brand audit. Its team spoke with external and internal stakeholders to find out if the name Green Light Events was communicating the potential of the brand as both a logistical events company and a creative brand experience agency. As they soon found out, “Green Light Events” wasn’t resonating the way it should.

Finding the right concept

Influenced by how the agency tapped the contrasting strengths of the left and right brain, The Pudding came up with the name Cogs & Marvel. The name Cogs represented the logistical, left-brain side of the operation, while Marvel represented the more creative right brain. The idea was that when both sides came together, something magical happened.

Keeping it colorful

Cogs & Marvel opted for a color palette that was bright and energetic, pairing blocks of color with bold patterns and playful photography. The company’s logo includes a large ampersand between “Cogs” and “Marvel,” emphasizing the two parts of the brain working together.

Cogs & Marvel also used creative copywriting to bring its story to life. As Cogs & Marvel’s website explains: “At Cogs & Marvel, we weave logistical ability with brand consciousness and strategy with play to create live events and brand activations that trigger emotion and memory. Cogs & Marvel is a brand experience and creative event agency but also an agency of story and magic that delivers a bigger, bolder wow.”

A new brand identity

The Pudding ultimately created a unique brand strategy, name and identity for Cogs & Marvel and continues to work with the events agency to makes sure the brand image comes alive at every touchpoint.

The strategy has paid off. From the time it embarked on its rebranding in 2016, Cogs & Marvel has grown from about $22 million in annual revenue to about $52 million. It has also expanded from 30 people to about 90.

In the past 12 months Cogs & Marvel has delivered about 270 events for clients in 57 cities on four continents. Cogs & Marvel has also successfully expanded to the US. Its clients include Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MasterCard, Dropbox and Slack. The company has also been nominated for an EY Entrepreneur of The Year Award.

“We never thought when we started this process that we’d end up with such an exciting and invigorating brand on our plate to consider,” says Dave Smyth, CEO of Cogs & Marvel. “The robustness of the strategy presented us with a commercial opportunity we couldn’t ignore.”

If you find your ideal clients aren’t returning your emails or calls, it’s worth taking a close look at what you’re calling your company. As Cogs & Marvel found, having the right name can make all of the difference.

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.