Most people go through life with first names that are easy to say and hear. I don’t have such luck. “Patton” is not complicated, but 99 out of 100 times when I introduce myself to someone, they do not hear my name right the first time. Here’s a conversation I’ve had a million times:
“Hi, I’m Patton Dodd.”
“No, Patton Dodd.”
“So, Pat and Dodd? Where’s Dodd?”
“No, Patton. Pat-uhn.”
“Okay. But you go by Pat?”
At which point I poke them in the eye.
We have our own naming confusion here at the H. E. Butt Foundation. As most of you know, many people know us as “H-E-B Camps” or “H-E-B Foundation.” They’ve called us one of those two names—mostly “H-E-B Camps”—for ages, and many of us have embraced the same moniker along the way. It’s been tough to avoid. Even today, when I meet new people and tell them I work for the H. E. Butt Foundation, I notice that often when they introduce me to someone else, they’ll say, “He works for H-E-B Foundation.”
This confusion is understandable. And it’s tempting to let it persist. Our association with H-E-B is a good thing. Most of you know better than I how much Texans love the H-E-B brand and how deeply the Canyon is connected to the grocery company in people’s minds. H-E-B is a vital part of our legacy; indeed, it’s the reason we have a foundation in the first place. We’re grateful for and proud of the relationship for good reason, and it’s something we’ll always celebrate.
But H-E-B and the Foundation are separate organizations with distinct missions. H-E-B runs its own charitable giving arm, the Community Investment Program, which makes contributions to a range of nonprofit initiatives. We’re not part of that program, and when people confuse these issues, both organizations are at pains to explain the difference.
Plus, the Foundation is continuing to grow and expand its reach. As new communities and individuals encounter our work, it’s imperative that they know who we are—and who we are not. Fortunately, our programs and initiatives can stand on their own two feet. The work we do is noble, and it is effective—that is why people keep coming back.
Creating distinction between H-E-B and the Foundation in people’s minds will not happen overnight. It’s going to take some effort. And all of us can and should help.
Here’s one way to start: When people ask where you work, tell them you work for the H. E. Butt Foundation. When they (inevitably) say, “Oh, H-E-B?”, you can say, “No. We were founded by the same family that runs the grocery company, but we’re not H-E-B’s charitable giving arm. We’re an independent foundation led by some of the family members and supported by our own endowment.”
Over time, you can correct people gently and help spread the news that we are the Butt Foundation. It’s okay if you have to say this a lot in the coming years—creating brand distinction is going to take a while. In the seasons ahead, we will be working on a few public efforts to help. But let’s get started by calling ourselves who we are, and helping people understand that the work in the Canyon is the work of the Foundation.