“Why did you idiots change your name?”

 

Personal thoughts on a question we’re pretty sure some folks are thinking, but are too polite to ask.


If you’re reading this, then you probably feel like I do that the COCO name and brand was pretty cool.

The birth of COCO
It wasn’t always that way. I remember when we were a few weeks old and without a name. My friend Kyia, who does naming professionally, gave us some options to consider. We were gravitating toward something lame – I don’t remember what – but she pointed to “CoCo” (as it was spelled then) and said “I think you want this one.” I knew that Kyia had great instinct, so that if she gave you her opinion, you had best listen. So, we did.

Lukewarm acceptance
Was the name met with widespread adulation? Not exactly. Some people got it. Others, you had to explain what the “Cos” stood for – collaboration, community, connection – and then they were like, “ok, cool.” And then others said, “That’s a dumb name. What are you idiots thinking?”

So, a general lesson in life: try to make good choices, but then expect that the world will have mixed opinions. Also, that first impressions are not always the last impressions.

Experience → meaning
Eventually, the COCO name came to stand for something beyond what we imagined. It stood for all the amazing people you’d meet if you spent time at COCO. It stood for a sense of camaraderie – that we were all new at being independent, launching ventures and adulting in general. The name was simply shorthand for a generative shared experience.

So, imagine our trepidation when we realized that we’d need to change the brand.

So, what exactly happened?
As we wrote earlier, some 2 years ago, we set out, along with a couple partner companies, to create a new coworking franchise business. If you’re familiar with franchising then you know that it involves creating a business concept and system that others can buy into. You create the playbook that they run. Typically, we think of franchises as small shops, like a Jimmy John’s, but they can even include bigger businesses like 100-room hotels.

A rose by any other name
By the end of all that planning and preparation (the ops manual alone is several hundred pages!) we had to give it a name. A name that not only would work for eventual customers, but a name that would first resonate with the franchise buyers themselves. We looked at the names we had in the hopper, as well as new possibilities. Ultimately, the Fueled Collective name won out as the best name for this new business. That brand had already existed as the coworking brand of Fueled in NYC, one of the partners in the deal. As partners, our obligation was to rename to match the new offering. Why? Well, could you imagine trying to convince someone to invest in this cool new thing when they ask, “If it’s so great, why do you go by a different name?” It wouldn’t inspire confidence, to say the least.

Where we stand today
We’ve got a new name, but we still own and operate our original 5 locations as we wish. The franchise business has a cool new prototype location in Cincinnati. But the old COCOs, like the original Starbucks store, are free to be whatever they need to be. And with all the new competition in town (300% growth since last October!), we’re doubling down on what brought us to the party: being Minnesota’s first and strongest coworking community.

Can you still call us COCO?
One question keeps coming back to us from members: “I still call it COCO. Is that ok?” And our answer is, “hells, yeah!” As I said, we may have changed the name on the door, but we’re still all about the values that gave birth to coworking, such as collaboration, community and connection – all the things that made COCO COCO.


This is part of a series of short posts that answer questions we suspect some people have in their heads but are too nice to ask. Other posts: