What's in a Name?
Some might argue that your brand is all about your name. Companies like Apple, Google and Coca-Cola come to mind. These are all firms where the name means everything and conjures immediate images in the minds of consumers.
For other organizations, a company name does not necessarily define the company. In customer service industries, I would argue that your brand is more defined by your people, your expertise and the value you bring to your clients.
Here at Barney & Barney, we are about to rebrand our company, so we have been thinking a great deal lately about branding and the impact of our brand in the marketplace and on our people. For us, this is a particularly interesting discussion, given our long history in San Diego.
A 100-Year Legacy
Our company was founded over 108 years ago, back in 1909, by two brothers, Philip and Lorenz Barney. By about 1940, there were no longer any “Barneys” involved in the organization, but the name has lived on ever since.
For most of our history, we were purely a San Diego-based company operating from one location. In 2007, we embarked upon a successful geographic expansion and now have offices throughout California and all the way to Anchorage, Alaska.
While the name Barney & Barney has a tremendous amount of recognition in San Diego, this is not the case in some of our other locations, such as Orange County, Los Angeles and the Bay Area. We hired an outside branding consultant to do market research for us and their findings confirmed what we already knew.
In 2014, we made the decision to become part of Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), a Fortune 250, publicly traded company with more than 60,000 employees in 140 countries. To say that this was a huge decision for us would be a bit of an understatement.
Our decision to join MMC was based on a variety of factors – all of which were intended to make us a better company and community partner. As it turned out, that’s exactly what happened, and we’re getting that positive feedback every day from our clients and our employees.
In joining MMA, we were also offered the opportunity to be the leader of the West Region for Marsh & McLennan Agency, a subsidiary of MMC formed in 2008. The West Region includes a territory that encompasses California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. So, Barney & Barney, once a rather small San Diego-based company is now the headquarters of the West Region for Marsh & McLennan Agency with close to $200 million in annual revenues and over 650 employees in one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S., if not the world.
Our parent company did not impose a timetable on when the Barney & Barney name would be rebranded. This is purely our decision. What we have discovered in the more than 3 years since joining Marsh & McLennan Agency is that using different names in different markets and trying to explain the relationships of those names can be somewhat cumbersome and confusing.
A New Era Begins
So, we have decided to completely rebrand the company to Marsh & McLennan Agency by the end of 2017.
For some of us who have been part of Barney & Barney for many years (32 years for me personally), this change is not without some mixed emotions. I know others feel the same. One of the things that makes us truly unique is that we are a company that cares deeply about our employees and their collective well-being. As a result, we have many employees who have been with us for decades. So, it’s easy to understand how this rebrand can create a little melancholy.
On the other hand, this also represents an exciting time for our company, as we continue to grow and prosper and expand into new markets. Becoming part of Marsh & McLennan Agency has served as rocket fuel for our engine. In fact, we have experienced double-digit growth every year since joining the MMC family.
A Community Partner
One of our key core values as a company has always been to give back and do good work in the community. It’s this core value that motivated us to form the Barney & Barney Foundation in 2009, when we celebrated our Centennial. In hindsight, this was a really great decision. Even with our rebrand to Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Barney & Barney name will live on in the form of the “Barney & Barney Foundation” and the good work we will continue to do in our communities.
Looking ahead, we know we will always be defined not by our name, but by the quality of our people and the great work we do for clients.
Those of us who have been around forever can take great pride in being part of an incredible legacy associated with the Barney & Barney name. We can find solace in knowing that our name will survive in our Foundation and will continue to contribute to the community.
And oh, by the way, when it comes to our new name, Marsh & McLennan Agency, we might also find some comfort in knowing that this is also a great brand with roots dating back more than 146 years.
So, onward and upward as Marsh & McLennan Agency, with a nod to the past and a wonderful legacy in Barney & Barney, a name that will live on forever.