Appboy is a fine name for a new company – fun, light, a little cheeky. But not necessarily built for the long haul.
As we became the dominant startup in our space and started to challenge marketing cloud incumbents, our name led some brands to sell us short. Having ‘app’ in the name meant that people often missed that we were capable of working our magic in email and on the web, too. We needed a change, a new name and new branding that spoke better to the company we’d become.
A new brand name has to work across the board. It has to resonate with your current and potential clients. Trademarks and web domains have to be available. And if you’re a global brand the way we are, you’ve got to make sure your new name doesn’t mean something profane in Mandarin or Hindi. Thankfully, we found experts to guide us; Lexicon, an exceptional group of people focused solely on naming.
We started by digging into where we thought the technology landscape was going over the next 20 years, and thinking through the role our company could play as things evolved. After we had the core concepts, we workshopped our way through names – a lot of names. And you have to have a lot. Otherwise, there might be nothing left when you finish checking out available trademarks and domains and complete the linguistics checks.
Once we had our finalists, we decided to up the ante by doing a survey of 64,000 people around the world to see how they felt about the different options and what each one conveyed.
A complete overhaul
Truthfully, we got lucky. The executive team’s collective top choice – Braze – made it through trademarks and linguistics and got a big boost from the survey, coming in as respondents’ pick for hitting the goals we set to achieve. But as complex as the naming process is, it was really the rebrand that tested us. A rebrand alone can be just aesthetic and voice, but a rename and rebrand means overhauling everything.
As Appboy, our branding was very professional, to counterbalance the name’s playful qualities. But when we decided to make the switch to Braze – which has a much more solid, elemental vibe – that old style just didn’t fit. We needed something lighter, more open and joyful. We found a great branding agency, Focus Lab, that helped us find something that worked. But then we had to make it all happen.
If you don’t understand what somebody’s goals and priorities are, you can’t communicate with them effectively. That leads to silos and inaction and missed deadlines.
A new brand voice. New brand colors, new visual identity. A corresponding new look for the Braze dashboard. A new, reimagined website and CMS. New corporate email accounts for every employee. Our global offices had to be re-outfitted and given a new look. It was an incredible amount of work; far too much to be done by one person, or even one department.
Here’s the reality: if you don’t understand what somebody’s goals and priorities are, you can’t communicate with them effectively. That leads to silos and inaction and missed deadlines, which was something we couldn’t afford. To keep things on track, I asked the project’s key stakeholders to share their must-haves versus nice-to-haves and we didn’t leave that meeting until we agreed on a list of priorities we could align with.
I won’t pretend that it wasn’t frustrating at times, or overwhelming. That I never had arguments with my fellow department heads, or grumbled about our frustrations over a glass of wine. But that pain had a purpose. We were taking on the biggest project in the history of this company and doing it while growing and thriving as a brand. The lessons we learned in the process are already paying dividends.
Six months after launch day, we’ve reworked how we collaborate at Braze by embracing truly cross-departmental working groups for major initiatives. You need that – it’s the only way to be sure that everybody is bought in and working together effectively. It has made an incredible difference. And while I’m not recommending that you rename your company just so you can break down silos and improve the way your departments work together, I’m not not recommending it either.
Marissa Aydlett is senior vice-president of marketing at Braze (formerly Appboy).