Setbacks & Comebacks: The Story Of Rebranding Forward Ladies.

Going through the rebrand of Forward Ladies, I found myself searching online for ideas and inspiration on how others did it. I took great comfort in knowing that some of the challenges we were facing in arriving at a new name and brand that we loved were not unique to us. I hope this article helps anyone about to embark on a similar journey. Also with gratitude for your curiosity, I’m writing this blog to answer questions I’m being asked about the rebranding process such as:

Why did you change the name?

Who helped you with the rebranding?

What inspired the new look and the new name, Novi?

Several Attempts & Setbacks

First, this was NOT my first attempt at rebranding Forward Ladies.

We had tried several times, but the names never stuck.

As with any change, I was a bit apprehensive about how people would receive this rebrand. Although the Forward Ladies’ name was loved by many, I felt I was starting to hold back due to the negative comments I was receiving about the meaning of the name. I also felt I had outgrown the brand and needed something new to get excited about again.

Previous attempts at rebranding the community played it safe because we did not want to go all out and lose our strong base of supporters in case they hated the name. So, we had “Think Forward” as our first attempt. For obvious reasons, the name simply reverted back to Forward Ladies. Love it or hate it, it was a name that stuck and spelt out what we were all about.

The second attempt led to “We Lead” after consultations with the community. This name, however, never saw the light of day, although the brand was very bright and vibrant. The feedback was that it was too similar to other women’s groups and sounded like something entirely inappropriate to my 13-year-old son. Yes, my children get involved with my creative process.

The third name, Novi, kept coming to my consciousness, but I resisted it because of my experience with my first business name, AWOVI. I quickly found that some people could not pronounce the name and were afraid of getting it wrong, so I was unwilling to go with another name that had the ‘vi’ sound in it.

At times, it felt like we would never change the name, as we had several focus groups and offers of support from members, but none of the names felt right.

Cookies by the inspiring duo Lisa & Saskia of the Biskery // Pictures by Donna Ford
Find A New Name

So, for those wanting to know my inspiration for the new name, it is my roots. Novi means sister in my native Ewe language, spoken by people in the Volta region of Ghana and throughout the west coast of Africa from Togo through to Benin. It is also a universal name as the language tends to be non-gendered. So, although it means sisterhood to me, it all means brotherhood and family.

Additionally, “Novi” is a girl’s name in the Netherlands, meaning “new,” reflecting our commitment to ushering in a new era of community.

I knew I wanted a universal name that was short, sweet, available as a domain name with both a com and It also needed to be memorable, not gendered, easy to spell and remember and whose meaning was tied to our mission of empowering women. Novi ticked all the boxes.

Novi was a strong contender, along with other names. However, we had a team session with an external facilitator, and we felt we couldn’t come up with a name that sounded better or matched our criteria, as well as Novi.

So, we decided to bite the bullet and take that leap of faith.

Our tagline was agreed upon during this session – starting with bold, unstoppable together, which is based on my book unstoppable women and the power of our community when we pool together.

The brand colours were chosen based on our need to communicate some prestige but also keep some of our old brand colours, such as teal, alive.

We tested a combination of the colours and found that the gold and teal for the membership and the dark green and gold for the awards site worked well.

Like a magpie, I must admit that I am drawn to gold and shiny objects, and making gold part of the brand suited me well.

Once we had the name, we had to find an available domain, and once that was done, it was full steam ahead. We faced some issues with the web development and had to change agency halfway through the build, but eventually, we all felt that the challenges we had faced resulted in a better brand and product once we overcame them.

Our in-house designers designed the logo; this final one was the second concept and right on the mark. We had used agencies for the prior attempts at a rebrand, so doing it in-house was out of a need to try something different but also we were quickly running out of money for the branding and had to move soon as the delays were impacting business. 

We needed some control over the creative process to ensure a quicker launch.

A few close friends saw the name first and were receptive, which helped build my confidence to unveil it. In fact, as one person told me, there is no time for feedback as you’ve already launched. 

I did that intentionally so that the nay sayers did not get to me. Remember, I had already tanked one brand due to feedback. With this rebrand, I was willing to trust myself and go with it even if people did not particularly like it initially. It presented an opportunity for us to get them to LOVE it. It also felt authentic as a name with deep meaning reminded me of our daily values.

People kept asking what the name meant, which gave me the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind it.

For most people, Novi has no meaning, and I also felt that it allowed us to attribute whatever meaning we wanted to it. It’s much more challenging to establish a brand like this, but I had to keep telling myself that Apple has nothing to do with a computer, and neither does Mango have anything to do with clothes. You have to take inspiration wherever you can.

This was not an easy or perfect process and at times it very much felt like failure but in trusting the process – the result is one that I am entirely pleased with and proud of.

It gave the team the opportunity to prove what we could achieve when we pool together and leverage our strengths.

Do I regret changing the name? 

No! I love our new name and can’t wait to see what this new chapter will hold. 

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our rebranding journey.

We are just starting, and I encourage you to come on this journey with us.

Have you ever felt discouraged by a failure or setback in your personal or professional life? 

It’s time to change your perspective and learn how to use those experiences to propel you forward! This is the focus of a new series we are running without our private community. 

Join us to learn to embrace failure.

Griselda Togobo