Rebranding is the rage. Dunkin’ Donuts and Weight Watchers are just the latest jumping on the name change bandwagon. And it’s got me thinking. Maybe middle-aged me could use a change too.
After all, I don’t want to be one of those people who gets stuck in a rut. Shaking things up might be just the thing I need. Instead of the same old Karen Galatz – writer, wife, and mom, perhaps I need a different persona.
But how and what should I change? I can’t seem to lose weight. I’m not brave enough for a facelift. I don’t want a divorce. And I really don’t need new clothes … or a different color hair.
Where to Begin?
So, again, what to change? How do I rebrand myself?
No tattoos. That’s for sure. That’s taking the “branding” idea too literally!
I don’t have a logo – other than the one for my Muddling through Middle Age website and I like the brightly colored eyeglasses, don’t you? So, let’s leave that alone.
The Name Game
How about changing my name? Instead of being Karen Galatz, I could start going by my middle name, Michelle. I always liked that name. In fact, I love it and always include my middle initial when writing my name, in the hopes people will ask what the “M” stands for.
Handsome Hubby already calls me “Mish.” So, it won’t be a problem for him. And it would avoid all those current awkward moments when he refers to me that way even when I’m not around and people worry-wonder if he’s got a girlfriend on the side!
I could substitute a symbol for my name like Prince did for a time. But Prince’s symbol name was a challenge. People couldn’t say or write it and they didn’t really understand the point of it. So, if a symbol-name didn’t work for a world-famous rock star, I doubt it would work for me.
One Name Wonders
I could just go by my initials – KMG. It’s sleek. Strong. The problem is, of course, I’m not sleek nor strong. Oh, well.
What if I became a one-named gal like Cher or Madonna or She-Ra or Smurfette? What do you think? Blog by Karen. That probably won’t work. Karen is too common a name for true brand recognition, which is ironic. When my mother named me, she thought the Swedish name Karen was exotic!
New Name or New Adjectives?
In my winsome twenties, I thought I was quite comely! Yet, people always describe me as “cute.” This adjective did not appeal to me. In fact, it offended me. Cute seemed better suited for babies, toddlers, even squealing pink piglets! I thought “sexy and seductive” more appropriately describe me. Obviously, along with a healthy sense of self-esteem, I suffered from an inflated ego! Even HH in his most smitten moments felt “sexy and seductive” were more aspirational than actual adjectives for me!
Now perhaps coupled with a few (dozen) cosmetic enhancements, I could try to build on the name rebranding and bill myself as the “sexy and seductive Michelle, still middle-aged, still a mom, still married, but now, so much more! No? You’re not buying it? Honestly, me neither!
Rebranding or Be Square
Maybe like IHOP, I should try a temporary name change. IHOP’s brief foray into IHOB-dom was an admitted marketing ploy to publicize the company’s burgers. But what am I trying to market? Nothing. I’m just trying to generate a little vim and whim into my sedate, middle-aged life.
It’s funny I’m even thinking about this. Thirty-two years ago, I firmly rejected the idea of a name change. People may not pronounce Galatz correctly, but Handsome Hubby’s moniker, Wellinghoff, seemed like a lot of letters to jam into all the forms one has to fill out in life, and at age 32, I was pretty happy with my (un-exotic) first and (difficult-to-say) last names.
Of course, while my generation and those that have followed have had the freedom to keep their maiden names or not when marrying, that, of course, wasn’t always the case. For centuries – millennium, “rebranding” was mandatory for women upon taking their marriage vows. They assumed their husband’s last names and identities and that was that.
The Celeb Name Game
Celebrities, of course, are famous name-changers. John Roger Stephens became the now legendary John Legend. Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (understandably) changed her name and became Meg Ryan. Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston did a name switcheroo and became the global superstar known as Audrey Hepburn. A guy with the unassuming name Mark Sinclair became tough guy Vin Diesel. And while Tom Cruise may seem like a real life, one-of-a-kind Hollywood character, in real life, he was just the fourth in a line, born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.
The Corporate Name Game
Lately, the list of corporate name-changers seems to be accelerating. Kentucky Fried Chicken kept the Colonel but became KFC. Weight Watchers is becoming WW, in order to emphasize wellness. A while back the owners of the Chicago Tribune rebranded – with well-deserved ridicule – to the name Tronc.
On the high-end of name changes, Michael Kors’s company (born as Karl Anderson Jr.) is becoming Capri Holdings Limited. While the ladies that lunch are worried about the impact on the brand itself, I wonder if the company is also taking over Capri, the sugary squeeze box drink kids like so much!
In with the New. Out with the …
And joining the list of recent companies changing their names are some you might not remember or even have known about. Here’s a couple that surprised me:
Google was called BackRub; Best Buy was named the Sound of Music; Playboy was called Stag Party; Pepsi-Cola was Brad’s drink (as in North Carolina pharmacist and drink-maker Caleb Bradham), and Yahoo went by this mouthful of a moniker – Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.
Same Old Me
Well, I’ve tried my best, but my own media and PR skills have come up short. I cannot figure out a rebranding strategy that works. I’ve run out of options and inspiration. I could hire one of those pricey Madison Avenue ad agencies to help me, but I think the better plan is to stick with the status quo.
Because the truth is I did go through a major personal re-branding exercise when we moved to California five years ago. I decided to give up my 9-5 career in journalism and in the non-profit human rights sector to focus full-time on my writing and creating this blog. That, you must admit, was a pretty significant shift.
So, while I am decidedly middle-aged, I’m also decidedly happy. I may be getting older, slower, and have more aches than ever before, I’m in good health. I love my family and my life is pretty terrific.
And while I admit feeling an itch for a little “something” new in my life, maybe I’ll just try switching my laundry detergent or shampoo and see if that does the trick! Maybe my “itch” is just an allergy!