The White House legal team
Love for the incumbent name
When a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit got in touch, they told us a familiar story. Their name, We the People, had been taken by someone with greater leverage and more lawyers. To say that they were outmatched is an understatement: they were going up against the White House, who had decided to use the name for a new site that would allow Americans to submit, view, and sign petitions, all within sight of our elected leaders.
They tried to rename on their own, but love for the old name got in the way. Replacements felt weak and unpatriotic. They weren’t standing up to the original. The project was taking time and creating friction: they wanted to get back to work, so they gave us a call.
We took as many members of the team as possible through our intake process, from a Department of Justice employee to a policy fellow in Columbus, Ohio. When we asked them about their mission, the first line was always the same: “We’re changing the way people see government.”
That’s an audacious goal. We liked it. We dug deeper: what concrete problems were they trying to solve? “People feel negatively about the role of government in their lives,” said one team member. “We don’t talk about the things that work well.” The feeling that government is a problem — and not a solution to problems — was definitely in the air.
They’re building a communications and policy machine that takes robust policy analysis of the problems. The idea that the initiative would be nonpartisan got us thinking about how to evoke participation and togetherness through the name.
Because their task seemed impossible, and their messaging was focused on changing the way people see government, the new name would need to sound as bold as that claim. And finally, because the name would have to replace We the People, it needed to be quintessentially American.
Leverage the right kind of patriotism
Put bravery front and center
We began the creative process by searching for inspiration anywhere we could find it. We found ourselves listening to recitations of famous American speeches. We read the Constitution. We found lists of ancient mining stake claims in the state of California. Most importantly, the name had to feel unique: the last thing We the People needed was another pack of lawyers at their heels.
At one point, we revisited a place familiar to anyone who went to grade school in the United States. That’s where we found We the People’s new name: Indivisible.
Americans have one strong association with the word — it’s in our Pledge of Allegiance, a text recited daily in grade schools across the country. That ties the word to a time of youthful optimism, while the world itself, out of context, signals strength and determination.
That character, along with the patriotism inherent in the word, felt right for an organization tasked with uniting the American people around a tough cause. And because Indivisible was a unique — and, legally speaking, clean — name, they didn’t need to look over their shoulders for lawyers.
“We really do love our name. We get more compliments on it than we do on anything else.”
— Donya Khalili, VP and COO of Indivisible
As they put it, they wanted their name to get everyone on board with their mission to cross the aisle ideologically. We hope that name does just that, and that as they move forward, it gives people a sense for what Indivisible does — and how they do it.