In early 1994, father-and-son management team Chris and Bob Herbert set about creating an all female group that could compete with the onslaught of boy bands that dominated the pop music scene in the early to mid 1990s: "the whole teen-band scene at the time was saturated by boy bands. It was all clones of New Kids on the Block and Take That. That was all a bit of a yawn for me, and only appealed to female audiences...I felt if you could appeal to the boys as well, you'd be laughing". In March 1994, Heart Management – which comprised the Herberts together with financier Chic Murphy – placed an advertisement in The Stage trade magazine asking "R U 18-23 with the ability to sing/dance? R U streetwise, ambitious, outgoing and dedicated?" Hundreds of girls responded and the applicants were whittled down to a final five that consisted of Victoria Adams, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell and Michelle Stephenson. The group was given the name "Touch" and moved into a house together in Maidenhead (owned by Murphy) where they were subsidised by Heart Management and each was claiming unemployment benefit.
During the first two months the group worked on demos and dance routines at the Trinity Studios in Woking. According to Stephenson, the material the group was given was "very, very young pop" and included the song "We’re Gonna Make It Happen", a record that never came to light. It soon became apparent that Stephenson did not have the drive and belief that the rest of the group had, so the decision was made to fire her from the group. Bob Herbert stated that "she just wasn't fitting in...she would never have gelled with it and I had to tell her to go". However, Stephenson stated it was her decision to leave the group because of the illness of her mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Victoria later dismissed this claim saying she "just couldn't be arsed" to put in the work the rest of the group was doing. The Herberts searched for a replacement and first came across Abigail Kas, who did not impress, and then were led to eighteen-year-old Emma Bunton at the suggestion of vocal coach Pepe Lemer. Bunton instantly impressed the Herberts and was invited to meet the group in July 1994, who welcomed her with open arms: "Straight away I knew she was the one", stated Halliwell.
After Bunton joined the girls there was growing discontent amongst the group with the management team. The group felt insecure about the lack of a contract and were frustrated by the direction in which Heart Management was steering them. They persuaded Bob Herbert to set up a showcase performance for the group in front of industry writers, producers and A&R men in December 1994 at the Momis Studios in Shepherds Bush where they received an "overwhelmingly positive" reaction. Due to the large interest in the group, the Herberts quickly set about creating a binding contract for the group. Encouraged by the reaction they had received at the Momis showcase the five girls delayed signing contracts on the legal advice from, amongst others, Victoria's father Tony Adams. In March 1995, because of the group's frustration at their management's unwillingness to listen to their visions and ideas, they parted from Heart Management. In what biographer David Sinclair calls an "incredibly self-serving and underhand" ploy, the group stole the master recordings of their discography from the management offices in order to ensure they kept control of their own work. That same day the girls tracked down Sheffield-based producer Eliot Kennedy, who had been present at the showcase, and persuaded him to work with the group.
In October 1994, armed with a catalogue of demos and dance routines, the group began touring management agencies. The group was introduced to record producers Absolute, who in turn brought them to the attention of Simon Fuller of 19 Management. The girls began a relationship with Fuller and finally signed with him in March 1995. During the summer of that year the group toured record labels in London and Los Angeles with Fuller and finally signed a deal with Virgin Records in September 1995. From this point up to the summer of 1996 the girls continued to write and record tracks for their debut album while extensively touring the west coast of America, where they had signed a publishing deal with Windswept Pacific.'