A behind-the-scenes look at how a six-year-old company decided to change its name and build a new brand from scratch.
One of our favorite podcasts in the office is How I Built This with Guy Raz. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically an interview of a founder to uncover the trials and tribulations of a successful – or at least well-known – company. The format makes it a very informative and entertaining show. At least we think so because we’re into that kind of thing.
I was listening to a recent episode and, in the spirit of How I Built This, thought we’d take a trip back to 2018 to explain how DTproductions became Chispa House.
DT Stands For Dirtty Toe…What?
It all started last summer. I probably had the same reaction as most people when I heard what the initials stood for. It’s like hearing an inside joke without all the context and nuance that makes it so funny to those who were there when it happened. You get it, but you can’t fully understand it.
From a marketing perspective, Dirtty Toe Productions was certainly distinctive and memorable. Because Dirtty Toe was our CEO’s college nickname made the company seem approachable and fun. Definitely not corporate-y. It encompassed the “get your toes dirty” work ethic and an anti-establishment, us-against-the-world mentality. For years it served the company well and reflected the personality of the merry band of creatives that were scaling up at an impressive rate.
My biggest challenge with the name, however, was the feeling that it took us off on a tangent in client meetings.
How Far Could We Go as Dirtty Toe?
Once I got to know this team, understood what drives them and saw what they were capable of, I knew that:
• DT was not a big enough container for our dreams and goals
• DT was going to be hard to own from a brand perspective
• Our list of services and value was quickly growing out of production
• The Chispa story was our company story.
Going All-In On Chispa
One of the many reasons why I joined this company was hearing the story of the Calderon-Rojas family. Many years ago, the team had a life-changing experience near the border of Texas and Mexico.
None of them had ever experienced poverty at that level. Living in a one-room trailer without any common utilities, the spirits of this amazing family were not broken. The mother, Maria, took five financial and English classes per week while raising her children. The father, Juan, commuted from the southern tip of Texas to Tennessee for the closest stable job he could find.
On the last night of the trip, Maria invited the entire crew over for a home-cooked meal. Though the clients were paying the team’s expenses (and Maria had so little to give!), she demanded they eat at her table. As the evening came to a close, they summoned the courage to ask why she and Juan were working so hard.
Her response was “Chispa”, the Spanish word for spark. She said, “There is a spark inside me that wants to build a better life for me and my family.”
From that point on, the company’s mission was clear: look for Chispa, uncover it, and spread it around the world.
A House for the Calderon-Rojas Family…and Creatives
In hearing that story, it all made sense to me. The same way it makes sense to others who hear the story. If we had the word Chispa in our name, it would:
• Connect the company name to what differentiates us
• Reinforce our positioning and promise
• Show that we walk our talk
• Give us something different, provocative, and daring – plus it’s visually interesting and fun to say.
Besides, we had already created a film about a new house for Maria who taught us the word — and built an aspirational home for creatives that’s filled with Chispa…
A Chispa House
From Cheese Spa House to our ongoing work with Aflac, I’m proud that Chispa House is becoming a stronger brand each day. Below is the presentation that helped convince the team to consider the possibility of changing our name after six years as DTproductions.
It’s also a reminder of just how far we’ve come in the past six months.
As always, thank you for joining us on this journey!
P.S. New office signage coming soon!