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Are you going to change the SheEO name?

NEW Podcast Series

You ask a question and we answer it! Join us for this bite-sized series, each episode answers a ‘Behind The Scenes’ question in no more than 10 to 20 mins!


“Are you going to change the SheEO name?”

The second episode Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO + Hannah Cree, SheEO Venture in Residence talk about why the organization was considering a name change, the process involved and what has emerged as a result of many brand refresh conversations.

Going from purple forward to people forward and this is only part 1 of the branding conversation!

Have a topic or question about SheEO? Send us a voice note to [email protected] and it could be featured on the very next behind the scenes podcast.


Hannah Cree 0:11
Welcome to the SheEO Behind the Scenes podcast. Today, Vicki Saunders founder of SheEO and myself Hannah Cree, SheEO Venture in Residence is responding to the question: ‘Are you going to change the SheEO name?” This is only part one of our branding conversation, so let’s jump in.

Vicki Saunders 0:30
Actually going to be changing our look and feel not our feel, our look, why don’t we jump into that and we didn’t really tell anybody.

Hannah Cree 0:43
It was like this trickling though again, right. At summit you got up and said, we are considering maybe a name change, and that’s pretty typical for any organization that’s five years in, is looking at a brand refresh or looking at those types of things. Because, you know, you have more people now and you have more momentum and things start to look different or feel different. And so a brand refresh, actually, in my, in my opinion is very typical of that. But you you got up on a stage and said, you know, we are considering even a name change. And you got how many names suggested to you from marketing people?

Vicki Saunders 1:21
Yeah, a little bit of backstory on this one was, from the very beginning, there has been like a bit of a rub with SheEO you know, (the word), one of my mentors is like, this is way too trite, Saunders. Like what you’re here to do, is much more important than this cutesy name, right? And then so that was like older white men saying that to me, so already discounting it by 50%. I love him. I love him. But, you know, you’re not my target audience. So thank you for feedback. And then there’s this a lot of people going, Oh my God, what a cool name, right? Redefining what it means to be a leader. And then and then lots of other people who are like, Oh my God, I hate that name. I don’t want to do anything women only, which is like mostly my generation who were brought up to not do anything, woman only because if you did, it was going to be discounted, and it didn’t matter. Yeah. And if you’re going to change the world, how are you going to do just with women? That doesn’t make sense to me? And I’m like, thank staging strategy. If we don’t actually heal women’s money issues and come together as a community to support each other. If women come together, everything changes, like everything. And if we say separate, it doesn’t. Mm hmm. And so what if we tried a different experiment? It’s an experiment folks join it or not, you know, step in. So there was always this back and forth. But what started to happen a few years ago, is, like I live in a future. I definitely, like ahead of the curve, for sure. And I’m like genders going away. Just, she is not appropriate anymore. It’s not inclusive, it’s problematic. What are we going to do about it? And that doesn’t mean we want men to be part of our model right now. It just means that we have a problem with inclusion. And so what are we going to do about it? So we started to play with that and think about it. I started to think about it a lot. But did I have an announcement, write a blog post and say, huh, what about the future I didn’t. I just started noticing. And then more and more people started coming to us going, this doesn’t really feel like I’m part of this. And so then we started to build out the big long, two spirited, LGBTQ, gender non binary, like, all the words, started looking at calling, you know, doing women with an X instead of an A or any, and have had conversations for like, a couple years. And then I said, you know, I really think we have to explore this. And I was sitting in my living room with one of our activators and she goes, you know, I know this creative director, she’s the one who created priceless campaign for MasterCard and The Easy button for Staples and I’m like, what? Sign me up!

So I’m like, What’s her name? And of course, I’m on my phone immediately, I ping her on LinkedIn, and she responds right away. So the next day, I’m on a call with her, then she becomes an activator and says, Oh, I love what you’re doing. We met in New York, she said, I’d love to do a project to see what this would look like. And she knows people from all over the world, all these branding expert folks. And she had one perfect person in mind. Aly is Brazilian who was living in London, who had started this organization called She Says, that had 6000 women creatives all over the world that she built in this like, self organized way. And I’m like, Oh, my god, she’s already built an org kind of like SheEO, like, how do you get people to self organize? So I called her, we had a conversation. And Ally is like, this is amazing, I can’t wait to work on this. And so we spent like, four months and again, didn’t announce it out loud. And so they went through all this stuff. Bunch of interviews, they talked to quite a few Activators and Ventures. And then they came back with this presentation. They were so excited. And there were like 108 names. And they went through a bunch of them, but they said we had 100 names. And they went through here, the ones that we liked the most. And I’m like, Huh, no, not so much. I didn’t. I didn’t like any of them. Really. And and, you know, we played, I showed it to a few people, not a ton. And then MJ said, this amazing thing, one of our development guides. She said, you know, literally everything about SheEO is so different. That if you have a name that you have to explain too, isn’t that crazy? It has to be way better than SheEO to change the name at this point. Yeah. Which made sense to me, right? So we shelved it, and said not now. And part of the thing is, my experience has been when it’s right. It happens with ease, like almost in an instant. And when it’s not, it’s like hard and I I really do trust my intuition after like years and decades basically of like not trusting my intuition and following some other yodas. This is a person who knows everything, follow them, and then it never works for me. So I really do trust my intuition almost all the time. And so we just shelved it. And then you came on to help us with updating our website and our logo and our look and feel and part of the thing that just I laugh inside now. There’s this awesome woman named Rooks super, super cool. young leader who’s merging. And when I first met her, she’s like, your logo looks like some old lady menopause thing. And I’m like, well, I am an old lady and I am in menopause, so I guess it’s appropriate. Thanks, Rooks. Make me feel really great.

Yeah, that’s how I described myself. Oh, that’s interesting, like the hip cool young ones coming along and are like this doesn’t resonate for me. So again, another data point.

Hannah Cree 7:07
Yeah, and I’m not and I’m not hip young and cool, you know only in my 40s but I will say and I reflected on this last night was that I first got introduced to you actually from Gena, there was some email we’re supposed to connect and never did. And that was the original one, but the name of the organization also kept me away. Because I came from the school of I don’t want the boss babe, the babes who… all of that stuff, I really felt like discounted us, is exactly what men want us to do. It looks cute. It’s not coming after them in any way and they can put some money there and feel like they’ve done something good. It’s another kind of boss babe thing that was my original reaction to and how it shifted for me was because I met another Venture who was Ilana from 21 Toys, who was doing her workshop on empathy, and I was in it. And an entrepreneur asked like, what was the game changing moment for you and your, your career? And she was like SheEO, and I was like, what? This moment of – What are you talking about? What do you mean, I had all this built up in myself, nothing that I saw in the community or anything, just my own pieces. But I think that’s the piece about branding, anyway, it’s very subjective of people bring their own stuff, their own thoughts, their own feelings, their look and feel what they would prefer and they make interpretations of people’s brands all the time.

Vicki Saunders 8:43
I mean, like, boss, babe, sexy with heels, like whatever. I’ve been asked to be on all the podcasts. Right. And so no, that’s not the thing, but I do. Yeah, I mean, I get that it’s, it’s a bit. It’s a bit cutesy. I get that. But it was really like, how do you redefine what it means to be a leader today? Is how I was looking at it, and how do you lead with, you know, these values and we’re focused on women. So she. But anyway, so we went through this whole thing and then we started to look at our website a couple of months, a month ago, and how we’re going to refresh it. And the team’s like, so what are we doing here? I’m like, oh, just, you know, like, update the luck a little bit. So like, not a whole redo. No, no, just a little. This is the Vicki Saunders way of like, you know,

Hannah Cree 9:30
Let’s just do a white background.

Vicki Saunders 9:32
Let’s just yeah, just white background. Part of the thing was, our brand is way too forward,

Hannah Cree 9:37
Purple forward.

Unknown Speaker 9:38
Yeah, purple forward, and we need to have people forward. And when we first started, we had to talk a lot about ourselves and this model and what it was in order to build momentum. But now, all of the results speak for themselves, the people, the Ventures, the Activators. And so it needs to be Activators and Ventures forward. And I mean, I think one more thing I’ll just say about the name is that I originally designed this with tons of other people, you know, around the world, my community of entrepreneurs, and investors to focus on solving this issue of like getting money into the hands of women. Yeah. And what’s happened over the last five years is this Venture focus only is the wrong focus. It’s almost like we have to turn it upside down. The activators make this happen. And I kind of missed that whole piece in my design, I focused only on how do you, you know, create the conditions for entrepreneurs to really thrive? And I forgot about all the people that were in the condition. Oh, yeah, that part. You know, so the title SheEO also keeps some people out because they think they have to be a business leader to be part of this, which is no case. Yeah, anyway, so here we are. We decided that we were going to just jump in and make the website look cleaner.

Unknown Speaker 10:51
Well, I remember because it was like, okay, we’re gonna just do a white background. We’ll go people forward. There’s so many photography and photos that she has, it’s incredible. You’ve never used stock photo, it’s always women, you know, let’s not let’s not cover women’s faces with any type of design, like let’s have this clear. And I remember calling you and going because, you know, we were doing it with a team and I said to you, I was like, we have to look at changing this brand. Like if we’re gonna do this, like the colors and let’s actually make a run of a new logo and new colors. I know we don’t have a lot of time and you know campaign starting in September, but if we’re just going to do a white background like something I knew, I could feel something was missing. But typically, this kind of brand refresh would take any marketing company a year to do.

Unknown Speaker 11:46
Yeah, that’s like not a thing, not for SheEO, that’s not a thing to do anything for us. But I mean, I, I’m just a hacker, right and we have a hacker culture. We have a get in, do a minimum viable thing and get it out the door. It doesn’t have to be perfect – iterate, play. But yes, thank you and other people in the team, you know, Tania was like, come on, we have to do something with this. Let’s go back at it. And so we called up Ally again and said, hey, any ideas on someone who could maybe pull together a logo in a week? No big deal. Yeah. And I mean a week and we have like, no money, basically. And she’s like, let me look around because she’s got this amazing network. And of course, you know, in four days, right, sign someone in our online, we had a call, they were in Toronto, creative director boom. And brought back five logos. And we went, oh, my God, yay. Anyway, thank God. So it happened in an instant. And then, you know, here we are redesigning the website and about to launch this for people to see.

Unknown Speaker 12:48
Yeah, like happen in an instant. And it also was interesting that the logos that were presented almost felt like SheEO in the next five years, it was SheEO, now in the next year, and then, and we started with the logo that was kind of SheEO now we’re all like, yeah, that’s it the AND (&) and the ampersand, and we landed on really the SheEO of the future. And that’s what I’m kind of excited about. Also the ease of it, because all of us in the background, also, we’re like Vicki’s never gonna get rid of purple. But she is never going to like the futuristic piece. We were just like, all of us were a little bit nervous in the background of it going, oh, we don’t know. And then to watch even you going, No, this feels right, no. And noticing that beforehand, the reason the resistance was there, it wasn’t feeling right. It didn’t look right. We didn’t change the name. And then all of these things happen so quickly, but also with so much ease.

Unknown Speaker 13:46
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think this is a this is a misperception that we have about everybody that we think that because a person was a certain way or likes a certain thing, therefore, they’re going to like it forever. And I’m just here to announce in case it’s not already obvious that we will blow up anything at any instant at SheEO if it didn’t feel right, we really would. Like the fact that you have five years of brand equity into something doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. I would never stick with something that doesn’t fit with the world that we’re in, and doesn’t feel like it’s the essence of what we’re doing. I was talking to my husband about this the other day, and I said, there’s literally like, departments of logo police in companies, right? The logo police, it’s like, Oh, don’t use it this way. Use it this way. It’s this. This is our brand. It’s everything. And I’m like, actually isn’t what you do everything. What do you mean, your brand is everything? The action you take is what matters, not the words and the look. And so, I mean, I know that’s probably radical. But, you know, I actually think that what we do as an organization is way more important than what we’re called. And if people are blocked from joining us or coming into our community because of our name, they are totally not the right people to be in our community. If a If a name literally blocks you from doing something – holy cow, that’s some work to do with your mindset. Yeah, from my perspective,

Unknown Speaker 15:12
Yeah, because you have to dig into it right? You have to actually have the experience, you have to show up to the calls, you have to know what the organization is about. I think that for any organization, of how they name and what they do, if it’s just the name that’s blocking you, there’s way more deeper things going on there.

Vicki Saunders 15:28
Literally, that’s the smallest amount of work that we need to do. We have to actually decolonize our entire bodies like everything about us. And if you can’t literally get past a name, you’re literally not going to be on a transformation journey with us seriously. So anyway, enough of that.

Coming soon.

Hannah Cree 15:57
Have a topic or question about SheEO? Send us a voice note to [email protected] and it could be featured on the very next behind the scenes podcast.

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