The Curious Story of Our New Brand Launch

On July 13, 2021, FLM Harvest rebranded as Curious Plot.

For any organization, the question of whether to change its name is one of the most difficult and consequential decisions it can make.

It only gets harder from there.

We made that decision more than a year ago, and the months between that day and the launch of our new name and brand were among the most exhilarating, challenging, fulfilling and anxiety-ridden of our careers. Everything is on the line when you are changing your identity. Get it wrong and you have, in the words of a favorite mentor, “broken into jail.”

This is the story of how we got there.

Why? And why now?

When we introduced Curious Plot last week, we heard two questions over and over: Why are you rebranding when things are going so well? And why are you doing it now?

While some organizations do, in fact, choose to reinvent or rebrand during business downturns, that’s by no means a prerequisite. Like most other professional service firms right now, we’re gratefully in a steady growth mode, and we see the rebrand as a way to fuel that momentum. It’s a fact that the food and agriculture industries we serve have seen a dizzying pace of change, and our new brand represents our own evolution as we focus on the best ways to serve our clients today and into the future. Even in the good times – especially in the good times ­– we are not content with sitting still.

What’s in a name?

Of all the elements in a full rebrand, selecting the name shoulders the biggest burden. By our own endlessly applied litmus test, the name had to:

  • Strongly connect to our food and ag story.
  • Be readable and writable.
  • Be unique and ownable.
  • Be punchy and memorable.
  • Be easily written and sound cool.
  • Evoke an emotion, feeling or idea.

Easy, right? Not so fast. Just when you think you’ve nailed it, someone connects it to a completely unintended and cringe-worthy meaning. Or a check of Urban Dictionary quickly kills it outright. Or your crack legal team tells you the name won’t hold up to a competitive challenge.

We went through more than a dozen rounds of ideation, producing a list of 500 candidate names that was ultimately narrowed to a short list of 10, all winners, by the way. The three rounds of increasingly intense legal reviews killed seven. The Urban Dictionary check killed one of the final three. That left us with two and, ultimately, Curious Plot was the clear choice.

A search for an identity

With the name chosen, the work turned to the identity. Our amazing creative team developed more than 50 iterations of a Curious Plot identity, including fonts and typography, logos, color palettes and more. All of which had to be ownable, a quick “get” for the audience and evergreen to hold up for years to come.

There’s no doubt that the team nailed it.

Transparency matters

Beyond the name, the logo and everything else associated with a new brand, the success of the rebrand hinged heavily on the internal alignment of our teams. Our 90+ staff of varying professional backgrounds, expertise and locations all needed to feel fully invested in this endeavor. But it’s impossible to have alignment without transparency.

So, we made the decision late last year to inform the entire agency that our name would be changing in 2021, even though we didn’t have the name or even a target date for the launch. This was a highly unusual move. I’ve heard of agency rebrands where no one outside of leadership was even aware a new name was coming until the morning of the launch. Instead, we revealed the new name and logo as soon as they were ready, asking staff to keep it confidential until July 13. Each colleague – ever the strong marketers – kept their lips sealed until that day. Even one of our recent new hires from Minneapolis said, “This has to be the best-kept secret in town.”

While our rebrand was one of the most momentous days in our company’s 12-year history, it was actually 12+ months in the making. It’s a powerful professional experience for our team and hopefully an insightful business example for you. Thanks for being a part of this journey. The plot only thickens from here.