From the beginning, the name SheEO was either a love it or lose it vibe
“Brilliant!”, said many. Redefining a new way of being a leader. Others lumped us in with the #girlboss, Shero, mompreneur, ‘cutesy’ names that they said diminished the work we were doing. One of my mentors said, “SheEO is trite. What you are here to do is far more serious and significant than this name”.
After deep listening, noticing that nothing else was coming up, and paying attention to my intuition, I decided to go with it. If the name was a blocker for people to participate then perhaps that person wasn’t the right person for this time. I believed that if we did the work, showed the model, and delivered results, it wouldn’t really matter what we were called.
There were groups who didn’t feel like they could fit in because they weren’t CEO’s running a business. And others who didn’t want to be relegated to a women-only anything. And on, and on. To be clear, the name SheEO is not the only objection people had. Almost every element of our model flies in the face of our current paradigm so people had dozens of other objections.
The drumbeat for changing the name got louder over the last couple of years, but the reasoning was changing. It was no longer about the ‘triteness’ my mentor had objected to; it was about the future of gender and the reality of inclusion.
‘She’ is not inclusive of gender non-binary, trans and gender-fluid people.
We discussed this with many Activators who were saying we need to rethink it, and many who didn’t want change. One Activator suggested we talk to Joyce King Thomas, the creator of the “Priceless” campaign for Mastercard and the Easy button for Staples. I reached out immediately; she responded right away and we were on the phone the next day.
She introduced me to a woman who ran SheSays, Alessandra Lariu, a Brazilian creative who had built up a global community of women creatives. Ale’s experience creating a self-organizing global community of women felt like a great fit. We met, I felt like she got it and off we went. Ale and Joyce became Activators and we started on a journey over the course of the next four months; they did Activator interviews, explored over 100 names and created a new brand platform for us.
We had hours and hours of conversations about how the name was a blocker for new people activating. And, none of the new names felt dramatically better than SheEO. I wondered if maybe we should just go with one of their recommendations anyways.
One of my thinking partners said, “everything about SheEO is so different; at least the name is somewhat recognizable. If you pick some other name that you have to explain on top of everything else, it’s going to be even harder.”
I have learned over and over that if it’s not working with ease, it’s not the right time. Nothing felt dramatically better than SheEO so we left it as is in December 2019.
It felt quite clear that the name SheEO is not going to work long-term, and, we hadn’t yet found a better option.
At the SheEO Global Summit in March, we shared again that we were considering a name change. Many people at the event said YES out loud when I explained that it wasn’t inclusive enough, and several others emailed me after saying “you’ve done so much work to build up brand recognition”, “I love the name”, etc.
To be clear, at SheEO we are always ready to blow up what we’ve created if it suddenly feels wrong. We would never ‘stay the course’ just because we had put a lot of effort into something like “brand equity”. It’s extremely important to us to evolve with the times. It’s clear that gender transformation is part of our collective transformation.
At this moment in time, we have a massive challenge with structural inequities for cis and trans women, non-binary, gender-fluid and gender non-conforming people accessing capital and support on their own terms.
We were on track to work on a new website for September 2020 and wondering how deep to go.
We reconnected with Ale and asked if she knew anyone who might be able to create a new logo. Like everything at SheEO, we operate on a shoe-string budget. We have almost no $ to do it, and it needs to be done in a week if we are going to hit our timelines.
Ale found an amazing designer, Erin Rodness, and she came back with 5 options in a couple of days, with a smaller number of colors. We fell in love with it right away.
Follow the energy.
Here’s what we came up with:
The lines through the S and the H represent the deconstruction of gender, ourselves + our mindsets. The deconstructed E is moving towards building equitable systems. The O is how Activators and Ventures can show up as their whole selves within our community, together. The O is also a nod to the circular economy and the zero-interest loans.
We are deconstructing our mindsets, on the way to building equitable systems, together.
We are between worlds, and we will continue evolving with the times. The old world and it’s biased systems and structures are falling and we are not yet clear what is next.
We stand for something more inclusive than the name. We show another way of being in community together by practicing radical generosity. We live our values and principles and practice them daily, together. We experiment and iterate together and we are here to transform, personally and collectively.
Thank you for being on this journey with us. As always, we’d love your feedback on our new website and you can watch the Live Brand Reveal below.