What Companies Can Learn from our Renaming and Rebranding

Recently, after five years of operating under our original name—SpareHire—our company launched a new name and updated brand as Graphite.

We didn’t do this because we merged with another company or we needed to escape a scandal or revive a tarnished brand. We did it because our company was successful—more successful than we had originally hoped. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it made perfect business sense as we succeeded and grew, and as new strategic opportunities opened up to us.

We hope our story is a positive lesson for other startups and growing businesses, so it’s one we’d like to share.

The Story Behind Our Name Change

When we founded our business in 2014, we adopted the name SpareHire because it was catchy and represented the core of what we intended to do. We wanted to provide organizations with an online platform that would allow them to hire pre-vetted and highly qualified independent consultants to work remotely or on-site, on a part-time basis. Once executives engaged our consultants and experienced their performance and expertise on a real project, they would hopefully engage them for future projects and maybe even full-time work.

As we developed our business plan, we focused on specific fields of consulting expertise, such as finance, strategy, investment banking, and marketing. We also targeted specific industries and types of organizations, such as startups, who often need access to part-time experts; consulting firms, who occasionally need to augment their permanent staff with subject matter experts or client engagement specialists; and investment firms, who often need highly qualified experts to help with mergers and acquisitions or conducting due diligence.

Our mission and go-to-market strategy came together beautifully, and we quickly grew from a burgeoning startup to a leading on-demand talent platform with a network of over 5,000 independent consultants. We also built up a fantastic client base that included hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies and prominent investment and consulting firms.

However, we had so much success in serving these clients and converting short-term opportunities into long-term consulting relationships that our name no longer seemed appropriate.

Admittedly, we were thinking more short-term at the outset. We knew that many firms often had a need for project-specific consulting to solve near-term problems or help with an upcoming opportunity. Our co-founders knew this from their own experience as employees and consultants.

But we were also recruiting and attracting some of the top independent consultants in the world. It’s what separated us from other online talent platforms. Our consultants were providing specialized and much-sought-after expertise, and they were delivering it with outstanding results and reviews from our clients.

As a result, once they took on individual projects and short-term client needs, those arrangements turned into additional projects and an ongoing relationship with significant frequency. They became key strategic resources for those firms, and some clients even hired them as full-time members of their team or brought them on board as direct employees.

This led us to change how we talked about our platform and positioned our band. We began to focus much more on the long-term strategic value of our consultants and those ongoing opportunities. We also shifted our go-to-market strategy with a much greater emphasis on targeting firms that needed long-term, strategic experts. Additionally, we wanted to work with companies that might hire multiple consultants and work with us as true business talent partner.

However, as we adjusted our approach and our sales and marketing efforts, we found that our SpareHire name was creating a disconnect. It was also creating some obstacles to achieving our goals.

The name still evoked that short-term, one-off approach to filling gaps or tackling projects. Sometimes it created the wrong first impression, by leading prospective clients to assume we were more of a short-term staffing agency than a strategic talent platform for large enterprises and firms. It didn’t convey our value as a brand, which was being a flexible and highly valuable partner that could deliver expertise and help our clients achieve their strategic business goals.

As we continued to interact with prospective clients and receive ongoing feedback from our business development team, we decided that it was time for a change. We needed to rename our company and relaunch our brand to eliminate the disconnect and make it easier for our team and consultants to connect with prospective clients and build new relationships.

We spent the next several months investigating our options, working with a branding firm to help us choose a new name and look, and preparing for our relaunch with an improved online platform. On April 30, we officially made the big move and announced our new name: Graphite.

We chose our new name because Graphite is a flexible and dynamic material that strengthens under extreme pressure and transforms into diamond. Its unique properties make it valuable in many critical applications, just as we look to be for our clients. They turn to us and our platform for the same flexibility, dynamism and strength under pressure.

The name is also simple, and we love the way it sounds. It conveys the maturity of our brand, and we hope it evokes the qualities that Graphite delivers as a mineral and as an on-demand platform for reaching the world’s most flexible, dynamic, and reliable experts.

Learning from Our Experience

Choosing a new name and relaunching a brand was a scary proposition. If you’ve achieved success under an existing name, it’s natural to be hesitant and question the whole idea.

Will our clients be confused? Will this disrupt our operations or cause a short-term dip in revenue? How long will it take for the new name to take hold? Do we have enough time and resources to make all the necessary changes? What if we get it wrong?

Fortunately, we did our due diligence, reached out to rebranding experts, worked with our own investors and experts, and found the answers to our questions. We developed a plan, chose a new name, and launched our updated brand, albeit with a few inevitable loose ends that we need to tie up.

The great news is that our new brand is already helping us make new connections and open up new opportunities for our experts. It’s proving the wisdom of our choice, which we didn’t take lightly and we wrestled with for several years.

This move has involved many pieces and a careful, collaborative effort by everyone involved. But it was one that became necessary given the mounting evidence and the opportunities we were missing by not making this change. In the end, we’re glad we made this move. We hope it will inspire others to do the same or help startups and established companies anticipate how the name and brand you choose today will impact your business as you succeed and grow. And we look forward to continuing to work together with our Graphite experts and clients to help our entire community benefit.

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Greg Andrade

Greg Andrade handles Graphite's marketing and communication programs. A graduate of the University of Michigan, he worked in corporate marketing for 15 years before turning his focus to virtual marketing consulting for startups and global businesses.

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