As people, we all get attached to our names and ideas.
I'm no different.
Iconsive, founded in 2012, was my baby - the name a result of weeks of intensive brainstorming with my co-founder, Martin.
Sometimes, however, we have to make tough decisions: to let go of our most precious creations, for the greater good.
And that's what I've just done. I've killed my baby.
How Iconsive Was Born
It was late 2012, and Martin and I were trying to come up with a name for our new digital agency.
We had customers, but no brand.
Too many agencies sounded the same, and we wanted to be different. We hated acronyms (read Positioning to learn why: basically everyone forgets and confuses them unless you're huge), and finding available .com's - even 4 years ago - was difficult.
Owning your .com is still essential, irrespective of the rationalisations some use to convince themselves otherwise.
So, like many brands before us, we took the decision to create our own word.
We thought carefully about how we'd help our customers, and what success would look like. We settled on "icon" as a great word to describe what we wanted to help our customers become: icons within their industry.
We experimented with dozens of prefixes and suffixes, eventually deciding to turn it into an adjective: Iconsive. Businesses that worked with us and employed our methodology would become Iconsive.
The Branding Problems We Encountered
Initially, we were relieved to have settled on a name, and rushed out to register all the Iconsive domains & IP we could.
Little did we know just how many mistakes we'd made.
Mistakes we were blissfully unaware of until:
- The company was registered with Companies House (the UK's registered company directory)
- Contracts were signed with our customers
- Our website was designed, developed and launched
- Paid advertising campaigns had begun
- Social media profiles were secured and promoted
- Business cards and stationary were printed
What started as a small trickle of inconveniences, grew -- over several years -- to become a torrent of invalid links, missed tweets and incorrect email introductions.
We identified 5 key issues at the root of these problems:
1) People struggled to spell our name when they heard it. Not once do I recall telling someone our email address, website address or company name for the first time, without being asked to repeat it. When the other person was writing the name down, I'd have to spell it out to them letter-by-letter.
2) People couldn't remember it. When I'd tell someone about the company and what we were doing, they'd remember me and what we did, but forget the company name. I've heard everything from "Iconosphere" to "Iconstance" and "Ico ... something".
3) People thought we were Inconsive. This was a psychological quirk we didn't initially notice. But it didn't take long until we spotted people subconsciously changing our name to include an additional "n". Even long term customers would sometimes refer to us as Inconsive in their communications.
4) People capitalised our name incorrectly. We kept being referred to as iConsive. Thank you, Apple!
5) People didn't understand it. No one intuitively "got it". We had to explain the full story of naming the company, from the icon concept to making it an adjective... and after this, people's -- mostly internal -- responses tended to be one of: "What?", or "I'll nod and pretend I understood what you just said, but I regret ever asking you about your name. Please can we move on?"
Biting the Bullet
These are big problems. Here's a company with a name people can't spell, remember, or understand.
As the business grew, the problems only got worse. I tabled a rebranding discussion with Martin a number of times, but the timing was never right.
We were always too busy. It would always cause too much confusion. It was always bad for our SEO. And what would happen to the steady stream of inbound leads we'd worked hard to grow over the last 3 years?
After every discussion, we eventually agreed that the name was "good enough for now".
The problem is that there's never -- really -- a right time to rebrand.
Rebranding is always disruptive.
But the right time to rebrand is always as soon as possible... providing there are major problems with your existing name. The bigger you get, the more expensive it is to change everything. Which is why, in late 2015, we made the decision to just do it.
Defining Our New Vision and Becoming Cobloom
We wanted a name which clearly indicated partnership and growth. We also wanted a brand that reflected our vision for the company…
“We help great SaaS products to disrupt markets, increase efficiency and accelerate society's progress.”
… but didn’t limit us.
After all, I don't have a crystal ball, and long term, our vision could easily become the slightly modified: "We help great organisations to disrupt markets, increase efficiency and accelerate society's progress."
With that in mind, as of January 27th, 2016, we’re Cobloom.
We think the name does a great job of reflecting our vision, without trapping us.
It also exhaustively passed a large series of tests that we ran... Just one of hundreds of ideas the team came up with over several weeks.
In my next post, I'll explain the process we went through to arrive at it. I'll also share some pointers you can use to determine whether it's appropriate for you to rebrand your company or product.
In the mean time: what do you think of our new name? Let me know.