"What a stupid f*cking name Office of Baby is."
"Don't ever change it. Best name in advertising."
We could never have predicted the perplexing combination of boundless love and vitriolic hate that three words out of their usual order could elicit.
Anyone who has ever named anything—an agency, a company, a pet, a child—knows it's hard. A name forces you to find your most powerful, singular strategic center, and then illuminate it in a tone that fits perfectly. A name is the first experience people have with you, often without the benefit of your presence providing additional context.
We loved our name, but quickly learned that being polarizing is an obstacle for an agency that wants to work with a diverse mix of people across a range of creative challenges.
The truth is that when we chose Office of Baby, we already had a few clients and were pretty busy focusing on them. We wanted something that stood out, wasn't our last names, and didn't feel like an agency. Something that was spiritually aligned with who we were.
We decided to ask one of of those clients why they trusted two creatives sitting at a wobbly Ikea table in the back of a production company with their business. They said, "You come to every problem like you're coming to it for the first time. You treat each new project like a chance to learn more, and make something new. You never lose enthusiasm. You are endlessly curious. Sometimes you make us feel uncomfortable, sometimes you are a bit of work, but we still love you."
As new parents, that really sounded like a baby. We added Office because we wanted to make it sound a bit more serious.
It was absolutely the right name for our first few years. It set us apart, brought in adventurous clients looking to take chances and provided an ice-breaker in every single interaction. No one came to Office of Baby to do boring work.
Then came the sad, yet triumphant truth that Office of Baby no longer represented who we were. We were many people. We had a fancy office. We had strategy, design and incubation departments. We were investing in startups and raising money for our own brands. Also, our new MD really, really hated it. And we liked her. We were starting to attract the diverse talent we always dreamed of—and that polarizing thing came around again.
We resisted, but then agreed that Office of Baby would not see us into the next 30 years. A rebranding would commence. We've done this a hundred times for clients. Helped them find their strategic North Star. Brought it to life everywhere. Surely we could do it for ourselves. We added our own rebranding to our list of projects, assigned people to it, and treated ourselves like a client. We assigned two of us to be the client representatives, and everyone else assumed their usual roles.
This was harder than we could have imagined.
Every agency should go through this process. Even if your name is BBDO and will always be BBDO. It helps the entire company align on the one thing you truly stand for. It helps every single person feel a part of that process. It's a chance to collaborate with your people in a very different way, to examine your own methods and see where they can improve. As one of the "clients," I came away deeply impressed with the talents of our people.
Most of all, we all gained massive empathy for clients and for what they are feeling sitting on the other side of the table. A group of relative strangers strolls into their conference room and kindly explains that we must align on one single thing that makes them them. No matter what we're working on with partners now, we are a lot more patient, empathetic and understanding of what they are feeling.
We eventually all came together around our belief that brands can make the world more interesting. That they have the amazing power to improve the planet and their own bottom line by doing and saying interesting things whenever possible. It's what brought everyone to Office of Baby in the first place. No matter what we did, we made sure it was interesting.
Now we are Interesting Development.
It was hard to say goodbye to our sweet baby. In the end, the process was so hard and rewarding that we joke about doing it every year.