Throughout my 60 years my favorite movie star has been someone whose name few people would recognize. Marion Morrison started in bit-part roles, and through luck and determination went on to act in 142 films and won a Best Actor Academy Award in 1969. The Oscar was for his role as Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” and by then he had long been known as John Wayne, the name given to him in 1930 by a Hollywood director who didn’t even consult Wayne about the change. It was an inspired choice, a straightforward name that conveyed the simplicity, directness and quiet strength that Americans admired. Really … who would you rather have walking next to you down a dark alley, Marion Morrison or John Wayne?
So too with a company name. Companies struggle to find names that convey their brand, their values, their mission, their capabilities. The right name is an asset that helps the company establish itself. The wrong name can force a company into the background of a crowded marketplace.
Our company is in just such a place, looking for a new name that conveys who we are and what we stand for. Now, we are the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology. It’s not just a mouthful, it’s half wrong; we aren’t an association, and we don’t focus on technology. As an acronym, our customers and partners pick the one they like: We are “cam-t,” “camped,” “C-A-M-T”… and so we have no consistent identity. The name and acronyms don’t convey our mission, our vision, or what we do for the manufacturers of the state of Colorado. The bottom line is that the market doesn’t always understand who we are, and we don’t help them with our name.
We have embarked on a serious rebranding effort to fix this problem, looking at our values, our vision for the manufacturers of Colorado, and the mission we will undertake for the next five years. It has been a long and tough road, filled with hard discussions and lots of false starts. After literally months of hard work, we have at least come to understand, as a team, who we are, where we are going, and what we bring to the state of Colorado.
As background, we are partially funded by the Department of Commerce to help Colorado manufacturers grow their businesses. In government speak, we are designated by Commerce as Colorado’s Federal Manufacturing Extension Partner, a mouthful of name all its own.
With the MEP charter as a starting point, we have arrived at a simple mission: We will grow and strengthen the Colorado manufacturing community. This is not just the manufacturers. Our mission is to grow and strengthen the eco-system that helps manufacturers prosper in Colorado. We will partner with local manufacturing groups, local chambers, economic development corporations, state agencies; literally anyone who has a role in growing manufacturing in Colorado.
Our vision is equally simple: As the Colorado Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, we are the go-to source for all things manufacturing. We will know the business and operational needs of Colorado manufacturers, and we will collaborate with organizations across the state and nation committed to serving those needs. We are the catalyst for growing and strengthening the manufacturing community in Colorado.
At this point, that is our story, as told by our mission and vision, and we will be sticking to it. Now comes the hard but fun part: How do we pick a name that conveys who we are? How do we go from being Marion Morrision to being John Wayne? We’ll let you know in the near future.
Thanks for reading, and comments are welcome and encouraged.