Changing Your Company Name: A Real Life, No-Cost Process

imageI first met Prasad Thammineni a couple of years ago.  He asked me to write an article about his new company (then called Pixily).

The Interactive Portion of the Article: (Grab a piece of paper)

Before I tell you what kind of company Pixily is, why don’t you take a few seconds and think about what kind of product or service a company named Pixily might provide?  Write those down. When you’re done reading the article, tell us what you thought that Pixily did and what you think of the new name.

About Pixily

Prasad saw an opportunity for Pixily as soon as he got out of graduate school.  He was saddled with all kinds of papers, documents and research – boxes and boxes of it – and simply didn’t feel like carrying it around with him.  He wanted the information digitized and that meant scanning.  Purchasing a scanner wasn’t expensive.  But the mere thought of sitting there for hours scanning documents by hand wasn’t really appealing.  He could purchase a high-speed scanner.  But that was expensive and when he was done – what would he do with it.

And Pixily was born.  It wouldn’t be too hard for you to imagine the value of having a document scanning service – just like big companies do.  Imagine no longer having to route through those moldy file boxes in your basement for valuable documents, health records or income tax records.  What if you could ship those away in a recyclable safe container, have them scanned and secure online?  Even better, what if you could search and have access to these documents on demand – no matter where you are?!

That was Pixily.  An online document scanning and storage service just for the small office and home office markets.

What’s in a Name?

There was only one problem.  People liked the name Pixily – but they didn’t associate it with the service.  Pixily just didn’t say small business or home office.  Not only that, it didn’t really explain what the company did.  There were other companies that started with the prefix “Pixi” and the poor Pixily people were getting lost in the shuffle.  Potential customers kept thinking Pixily was a video editing company.  This name just wasn’t working.

How We Said Goodbye to Pixily and Hello to OfficeDrop

For the nitty gritty details on the name changing process, I spoke with Healy Jones, OfficeDrop’s head of marketing.  “Pixily, as a company loved its name.  There were quite a few Pixily customers that loved the name too.  But we knew they had to make a change.” He said, and this is how they did it.

Healy gave me a virtual step-by-step of how Pixily became OfficeDrop.  No expensive consultants were used to develop this new brand,  just a lot of common sense brainstorming, crowdsourcing and customer contact.  Here are my notes from our conversation.

  1. Sit down and get everyone on the same page about what’s wrong with the current name you have.  “In our case, we intuitively knew that having people who love your name, misspell your name was a problem”
  2. Set goals around the attributes of the new name.  “We wanted our name to be easy to spell and easy to remember.  We wanted the name to reflect what we did, be between 10 and 12 letters and be easy to type on a keyboard.”
  3. We did some brainstorming internally.  We created a list of 90 names, then we took that list and checked it against what domains were available using the WHOIS directory.  After that process, we were left with about 30 names.
  4. Next we created a survey on Google Docs.  We created a survey that took the 30 names and created 3 groups of 10.  Then we asked employees to force rank them.  Our goal was to get to a final group of 7 names.
  5. We selected a group of trusted customers and talked to them about the short list of names we had come up with.  You could call these in-depth-interviews.  We simply had conversations with them.  Showed them the names, asked them which they liked and why.  We got some interesting feedback from those and were able to eliminate some from the short list just from that feedback.
  6. Finally, it was time for our HUGE survey.  We did an e-mail blast to our list of several thousand customers and got several hundred responses.  Now we had something statistical.  We asked people what they thought of each name and gave them a space to write down their responses.  I grouped the responses in positive and negative groups. And finally, we had OfficeDrop that came out as the overall best name for us.

You can see that this process was fairly straightforward and yielded good results for very little money.

Here is a summary of symptoms for a name change and some resource ideas if you’re contemplating a name change.

Symptoms of a Pending Name Change

  • People misspell your company name.
  • Customers are confused about what you do.
  • It’s holding you back from reaching new customers.
  • Marketing your company is expensive because what you provide isn’t intuitive.
  • People think you provide one thing and you actually do something completely different.

Tips and Resources For Name Changers

  • Brainstorming: The OfficeDrop team simply got together and used sticky notes and index cards to come up with their 90 names.  You can try some of these brainstorming sites and articles to kick start your session.
  • Survey Tools:  The OfficeDrop folks developed their internal survey on Google Docs.  Then they used Constant Contact’s survey tool for their large survey blast.  QuestionPro has forced ranking questions that makes tabulating this information easier.

Tell Us What You Think

  • So, tell us what you thought that Pixily did and what you think of the new name- Office Drop.
  • Has your organization gone through a name change?  What tips and resources can you offer and share?