And just like that …… a RE-BRAND

by Brian Lam, Owner of Collage Spa

Many people have asked why I undertook such a bold, risky move. I didn’t see it as bold or risky. It was a big undertaking but it was an important one to correctly position our business for present and future growth. I recently started watching the second season of “And Just Like That,” the sequel to the “Sex and the City” series. At first, I just couldn’t call the new series “JLT,” because I was still calling it “Sex and the City.” I couldn’t help but wonder, was it a risk to rebrand my business? Was it too bold? Would people accept it or hate it? So here I am, imagining myself as Carrie, and instead of giving relationship advice, I’m giving advice on branding and rebranding.

I am not a writer by any means, but here I can play one. I want to talk first about choosing brand names, and then about why rebranding made sense for my business, and might make sense for yours. The process of naming your company brings stress, fear, excitement, and doubt. It’s an emotional roller coaster for many people, which is why there are branding companies to handle all of that for you. But if you are a bootstrapping entrepreneur that might not be an option for you. Doing it yourself is hard, and we put so much weight onto the name that sometimes it stops us in our tracks. Here are some considerations for you to alleviate some of that stress.

Here is my main piece of advice is: don’t worry so much about the name. It’s just a starting point for you to build around. Like a book title, it needs to grab attention and give an idea of what your business is about, but you have a whole book to communicate your main idea. The logo, your storefront, and your marketing copy will build out the full picture of your company. That being said, I have some rules about choosing a name.

I think it’s important that you don’t get too cute with your name. In my case, I avoided the punning or rhyming names that many massage practices use, like “Hands Down Massage” or “Skin for the Win.” For me, names like that are more limited and read as just a small business. It’s the same with businesses that put LLC in their marketing collateral; avoid doing that. Your intention should be to build a brand name that can stand on its own and has room growth.

Leaving room for growth is why you should think very carefully before naming your business after yourself. Even when you are just starting your business, you need to be thinking about what happens at the end of your business, will you sell it or simply close it? If you want to sell, naming it after yourself will definitely make it more complicated. I learned this lesson from my background in the fashion industry. Many fashion designers name their businesses after themselves. It seemed to work for Calvin, Ralph, and Donna … until it didn’t. After selling their businesses, they were no longer able to control their own names as brands in the industry. If you are interested in selling, consider that the name will be part of the sale, and at that point, when you’re moving on to your next chapter, do you really want your name to be attached to the new owners of your business and out of your control?

Be sure to check that the names you are considering aren’t trademarked and that a good web domain is available. It is important that you do these checks before you start to operate, because it can be costly to change your name and all your marketing materials later if you received a cease and desist letter from someone that owns the trademark. When choosing a domain name, you can almost always find something related to your business name, but I think it’s important that the URL be easy to remember and closely related to your business. I think it’s strongly preferable to get a .com over a dot (.)net or dot (.)biz, since it’s more common and will avoid confusion.

For me, naming a new business is a consideration and a process but it’s not everything. It’s a starting point that needs many more layers built on. As your business grows and evolves hopefully the name stays as a center point and an anchor.

But it doesn’t always, sometimes your business moves in new and unanticipated directions that require a rebrand. Sometimes, the lives of Carrie, Miranda, and Charlotte have changed so much that you can’t call them “Sex and the City” any more. That happened with our business, Collage Spa. As it grew, I increasingly saw good changes that made the work of rebranding worth it.

When I started my business as Skin+Touch Therapy in 2010, I named it after my personal journey in the wellness industry. I got my skincare certification first, and then my massage license. The “therapy” part symbolized my yoga background and also my approach to wellness. The name and the logo were very modern and clinical. I used the green Swiss cross as an icon, which in Europe is used for pharmacies. The cross was placed between the Skin and the Touch, which led some clients to say “Skin and Touch Therapy.” Whatever the case, I thought the name was different and stood out, so it would stay in front of clients’ minds. When I made the decision to rebrand in 2022 was part practical and part personal. Our offerings had grown with more rooms and more services. We had added “Spa” to our name, since we wanted to emphasize that clients could now have a full day spa experience that included multiple services of massage, facials and nails. But then our name became Skin Touch Therapy Spa, which I felt was simply too long. It was too long to say and too long for a practical URL, and our clients all casually shortened it to “Skin+Touch” anyway. Who wants to pick up the phone and say “Skin Touch Therapy Spa, how can we help you?” It just seemed too wordy. Why now be known by one name like Goop, Beyonce, or Apple?

Furthermore, Skin Touch was no longer about just my journey. The company now has two locations, in Fredericksburg and Culpeper, offering massage, facials, waxing, infrared saunas, and nail services, all provided by our talented team of fifty people. That team fought to operate a high-quality spa experience through the pandemic, which felt like a huge milestone for the company. We made so many hard decisions and big changes due to the pandemic, and as a result I think people’s mindsets and needs became different. As we started to come out of the pandemic in 2022, I wanted to close that chapter and signify a new direction that embraced the whole team. The clinical feel of “Skin+Touch” seemed too medical to me after the pandemic. I wanted to capture the fun, relaxing, polished-yet-approachable feel of the spas we had built together, without reminding people of a visit to a pharmacy. I wanted a name to reflect our evolving vision for the company.

Choosing a new brand meant I had to start the creative process from scratch, but it is also much easier to name a business that already exists rather than one that you are just dreaming up. Personally, I was inspired that we were in the business of wellness, but also that wellness is a healing art. I wanted to emphasize the “art” part. No two artists are the same; they may learn color, techniques and the foundations but it’s their own approach to combining them that makes them a true artist. I think it is the same with our team. All of them are licensed in their own field but they bring unique approaches to their work. Rather than have one standard to follow, we should celebrate and highlight their individuality. After all, two people cannot give the same touch and experience. You know this when you find your massage therapist, esthetician, or nail artist. It really is like finding a four leaf clover … you have found your match. Our approach is to play matchmaker to connect you to your therapist. And to do that, we have to hire a diverse range of therapists with different skills and techniques.

Then it came to me, a work of art that combines multiple materials and forms is a collage. The idea of collage just seemed to fit more with our new direction after the pandemic. At Collage Spa, we blend different elements, approaches and techniques, so that we can create something personal and that is unique to the individual client. We want all your senses to be engaged so you feel connected with yourself and to leave inspired.

Collage is a simple name, one word to capture the vision. It embodied a combination of all things we do, but it also left open the possibility for new services and gave room for our business not to be limited to just skin and touch. It was more abstract and open ended. It was also available as URL, Now that we have a new brand that captures our vision and our center point, we still have to do the work to build it out. We need to consistently echo our themes into all parts of the business. That will take years to come but I feel inspired and connected to the new vision.

Similar to “Just Like That,” it’s a new chapter. Time always moves forward and change is inevitable, and an agile business person knows how to move with that change. A name is personal but so is your business. You have to have that connection and passion to keep pushing through. Your new name doesn’t have to be perfect, you have time to create the story around the brand. Some customers will miss your old name and some will support your new direction. Some people hate change and that’s ok. One thing I do know is people love to see a brand and business evolve. Like those of us who loved Sex and the City back in the 90s, your true fans will love seeing your growth and love being along for the ride.

If you’ve been thinking about your brand or a rebrand, hopefully this inspires you and lets you off the perfection hook. Nothing is perfect, but nothing is permanent either. Thank you for allowing me to play Carrie, even just for a blog post … “I couldn’t help but wonder, will a podcast be next? Signing off…Brian Lam


Brian Lam is Owner of Collage Spa.  Brian moved to the Fredericksburg area in 2010 and shortly there after established his spa.  His previous roles and education was in fashion and marketing/events. Brian loves entrepreneurship and the creative approaches to it. In his free time, Brian is with his family, husband Will Mackintosh and his two daughters, Hazel (8) and Clementine (3).