I’m not a branding expert but when I met with some true experts a ways back, their advice always stuck in my head:
“Don’t ever change your name if it has strong brand equity, even if the history is mixed. But — do change it if the name if it’s too limiting for the future.”
— Jason ✨Be Kind✨ Lemkin (@jasonlk) July 24, 2023
A lot of folks are chiming in on the change from Twitter to “X”. I’m not going to be one of them, per se. We’re about Scaling SaaS here at SaaStr, after all.
But the larger topic of when to change your name as a startup is an interesting niche topic.
I’m not a branding expert but when I met with some true experts a ways back, their advice always stuck in my head. It was when I was working at a place with some damaged / negative brand, but still a brand folks had heard of. My instinct was to change the name. That instinct was likely wrong.
“Don’t ever change your name if it has real brand equity, even if the history is mixed. But do change it if the name if it is truly too limiting for the future.”
Over time, that seems to have proven right. Change your name in the early days if you want, no one will care. But be careful once you have 100, 1000, etc. customers. Once you have a mini-brand. More on a mini-brand here:
I also saw “EchoSign” stumble in awareness when the name was changed many times after it had a strong brand, from Adobe eSign Services to Acrobat Sign to Adobe Acrobat Sign. I always felt like no one really understood if it was a new product, the same product, or what. And a ton of positive brand equity across the tech vertical was lost. A lot of folks loved “EchoSign”.
But, sometimes the corporate name is just … too narrow. A classic example is ZenPayroll renaming to Gusto. They just wanted to do more than … payroll. This is always a risk with descriptive names. Salesforce has brute forced it, even though today only a minority of their revenue comes from sales software.
I like semi-descriptive names myself (SaaStr, EchoSign, NanoGram Devices, etc.) because I find they tell your audience who and what you are in the early days. But they can be limiting.
Brands do matter, names matter. SurveyMonkey thought so. They just changed their name back from “Momentive” after $1B in ARR.
We used to catch so much shit for the NerdWallet name that at one point we actually paid a consultant something like $30k for new name ideas.
They told us the brand was too valuable and not to bother 😆 https://t.co/QqjHqBxG4d
— Jake (@iamjakestream) July 24, 2023