November 1, 2018

The Name Game is Not a Simple Tune for Companies and Brands

by Renegade

One of the most bizarre yet pervasive quirks of the business world is that everyone thinks they are a qualified marketer. The collective rationale is that because they consume products like other humans, their opinions must be valid. Well folks, I’ve witnessed a rocket launch but that doesn’t make me a NASA scientist. Marketing is an increasingly sophisticated discipline requiring extensive experience to yield successful outcomes. And nowhere is this fact truer than in the naming process.

Case in point—the recent renaming process undertaken by Marissa Aydlett, CMO of Braze (formerly Appboy). While Aydlett made sure to include multiple stakeholders in the development process, she also worked with the naming firm Lexicon Branding to develop and test options, do trademark searches and conduct linguistic research in 18 languages. In our interview below you’ll learn why Aydlett felt a new name was necessary in the first place and how they moved the process along all the way through the eventual internal and external launches.

Rebranding is a big deal, why search for a new name?

It’s a really big deal. We started our company in 2011; to make a decision to rename our company when we were six years old was not one that we took lightly. We went through the process thinking about what the world is going to look like in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. What is technology going to do, what societal impact will it have, and what role will we play in that particular space? Our mission has always been to humanize these relationships between people, brands and their consumers through technology—to make messages become more like conversation. As we started to head down this path we realized that the name Appboy wasn’t necessarily going to suit us well in that future. We’ve been multiple-channel since the day that we launched in 2011, and it was time that we evolved our name to go with that.

What sort of prep went into the new name?

We did a lot of work. It was really important to us that we had a name that, not only were we passionate about, but also that the world was passionate about. We actually deployed trademark and linguistics research in over 18 different languages and conducted a survey of 64,000 people so that we could understand what connotations people had with the name. We also had a third-party study that we’re still in the process of because we actually only renamed in November 2017. What this study did was confirm that we were choosing a name that was bold and that would stand out.

Were there any major lessons you learned during the rebranding process?

Naming means a lot of different things to a lot of people, and marketing is so accessible to everyone in the world that everybody has an opinion about what good marketing is—and it’s personal. You’ve got co-founders, leaders and employees who have been here from the beginning and our name was really personal to them. So, anchoring everything around team collaboration was really important, as was having a thoughtful process. That can’t be taken lightly. We went above and beyond to bring our employees in and gather their perspectives.

Once you had the new name, how did you announce it?

When we were announcing the name, because we orchestrate lifecycle marketing, we actually brought an orchestra down into our office and livestreamed it. We allowed people to request different songs, they didn’t even know what the announcement was going to be at that time. And then we revealed the name.

And how did launch roll-out after that?

We did launch parties in New York, San Francisco and London. And what was important to us was that we provided atypical experiences at these events. We were able to do live Braze usage; people could actually use and see the product. We did aura readings so you could see the colors moving that were personalized by individuals, and we had a variety of different ways that we brought our clients in. The Glam Squad was doing makeovers at the events; we really wanted to bring those brilliant experiences to life and have people connect them to our message.

Beyond renaming, what should marketers be looking at in the near future?

The first is that they really need to take time into consideration as a key driver in the digital-customer relationship that goes online and offline. How they do that will involve thinking about the shift in data streaming and live customer views. The second is cohesive messaging. We have new channels cropping up every single day. There is nothing worse than an incomplete or broken messaging experience where you’re getting messages that aren’t connected on different channels. There is an opportunity to really drive long-term relationships with your customers which will ultimately lead to lifetime value. But it really begins with a brilliant experience and thinking about that more like a conversation than a call and response.