Our work speaks for itself, our clients still speak for us, we’re still the awesome agency we always were, but let’s invest in a brand that we know we own.
There’s an old saying: good things happen at SXSW. At least, I think that’s a saying. Either way, the time you dropped acid and got lost at a Goo Goo Dolls concert in Austin? Good thing. Eating street tacos to the point of exploding, then listening to a panel of sports nerds talk about BABIP? Good thing. Forming a marketing agency with a couple friends, then watching that agency catch on like wildfire? Good thing.
The first two experiences aren’t relevant to this story, so I’ll save my thoughts on acid and batting average for another time and place. The last experience — friends speaking amongst one another at SXSW, then starting a marketing agency based on those talks — is very relevant to this story. That’s how Knock Twice came to be, formed by varying people (Mike Barash, Kyle Monson, Jeff Lind) from varying backgrounds (public relations, journalism, business) and taking them on a journey that ends with Codeword. Or begins, depending on how you look at things.
“We were all new to the startup world, even though we’d all worked at major businesses and agencies,” Lind said. “But we were obsessed with the idea of this company that works solely behind the scenes, we didn’t want to be the kind of agency that was winning awards, we didn’t even want a website. We wanted the be the kind of agency that companies talk about, ‘Hey, what’s the secret to your success?’ And our client work would be our calling card.”
Knock Twice’s story mirrors that of many startups — an idea is formed, then the long and arduous process of trial-and-error begins. They agreed upon a name, paid a designer to make the logo, and Knock Twice was officially off and running as a new-age, startup-focused marketing agency designed to function at the highest of levels.
“We just went with it,” Lind said. “When you’re beginning a company like this, you don’t know what to expect. And for some reason, there’s always a little bit of magic that happens early in a company that’s successful. That magic happened with Knock Twice and it just went nuts. We grew bigger and faster than we ever realized we would. It was really just a group of friends doing something we thought was fun and we didn’t really think a lot about what happens if we’re successful.”
A small group of friends suddenly became 60+ employees with offices in California, Utah, and New York. Then, the unfortunate part of the story arrives: they got sued for trademark infringement. Believing in the validity of their case, Knock Twice fought the claims for over a year with a final decision still distant.
When you’re embroiled in a legal battle, sooner or later, you have to start weighing the costs. Is this worth your time? Even if you have a legitimate case, is it really worth fighting to the bitter end, one that essentially ends in a coin flip anyway? Or is it easier to just move on?
For Knock Twice, it was easier to move on. Now, they are Codeword.
“Our work speaks for itself, our clients still speak for us, we’re still the awesome agency we always were, but let’s invest in a brand that we know we own,” Lind said.
Codeword carries on the tradition that Knock Twice started — a behind-the-scenes agency dedicated to startups, focused on networking and growth. Services will remain the same, strategies will remain the same, but the name chosen to represent them will be in code. (Terrible wordplay on my part. I’ll show myself out.)
“We grind so the companies we’re serving shine and we make smart work for smart people,” Lind said. “If we’re doing a really good job, nobody knows about us. That’s our thing.”