It's all about meetings. I've lost count of the number of meetings in the past couple of years. I'm guessing easily a couple of gallons of tea. Some go well, some go ok and some are just plain terrible. That's fine, it's the nature of business development. You have to love the rejections as much as the wins apparently.
So we've tracked down a new lead and successfully initiated contact through Linkedin, Twitter, or one of the numerous other dark arts of enterprise tech sales that I'm learning about. We land a meeting and turn up at the appointed time, primed with our flawless sales pitch, cups of tea in hand. Introductions are made. Always eager I'm in first with: "Hi I'm Richie, the CEO, and this is James, co-founder and CTO". The executive across the table looks confused. "But, wait, where's Gareth?" Now I'm confused, Gareth? "Yeah, aren't you guys called Cool Gareth Tech?" Doh!....
When potential customers ask where 'Gareth' is, it doesn't take a genius to realise that we have a bit of a problem. Other interesting variations we've had on our name include: coolgiraffe, coolgraphics, or coolgraphs. Others think it's some kind of amazing data structure or algorithm that they haven't heard before: "What's a 'Garif' and why is your one cool?" According to James it's in the top 3 mistakes I've made so far [Regularly forgetting the name of our Head of Graphic Design just pips it - James].
Brilliant. We are flat out working on some great projects, we are moving office, everyone is working at a sprint, and now we've got to figure out a new name. To be honest we'd been putting it off for a while. We had discussed it late in 2013 but at that time the entire focus was directed at completing our visualisation library. Nobody really had the head-space or creative energy to give our name much thought. But, as growth accelerated at the start of this year, we realised the longer we left the name unchanged, the more painful the transition would ultimately be.
Having had limited experience building an enterprise tech brand before, the thought of a complete rebranding of the company was a pretty daunting. We enlisted the help of various friends across the start-up scene, and various marketing and branding friends to get some initial ideas of where to start.
We learned about building our brand pyramid; the Three Circles, "Why, How and What", from this Ted Talk by Simon Sinek; this excellent brand name development guide also helped. We played around with some of the naming tools that are out there, which are highly addictive. However, in short, we weren't getting anywhere particularly quickly.
Luckily, a friend from our network who has vast experience in marketing and branding, Louise Barnard, kindly offered to provide some direction, knock our heads together, and help us get over the initial hump.
To be honest I've always been a bit sceptical of the whole world of branding and marketing. I wasn't really sure how it applied to us as an engineering and design company. I'm only now starting to understand how naive I was and how vitally important it is getting the strategy and process right.
Branding, and by extension marketing, defined and executed correctly, should run through every aspect of your organisation. Every interaction with customers and potential customers needs to be consistent: the language used by team members, the tone of your logo and website, how you write blogs, and all of the enterprise sales artefacts. This started to dawn on me as we worked our way through an initial re-naming workshop with Louise.
As she questioned us about why we set up the company, the company ethos, our technology, our design, why we thought we were different, a series of concepts emerged. "Relaxed, design led, modern, not fusty, not high pressure, quietly competent, actively look to simplify, making the complex less daunting and painful".
Lots of introspection and perhaps a few minor existential crises, but, slowly, shapes, and more importantly, names started forming out of the haze. We started to form a concrete idea of our brand identity, something that was implied and nebulous before, now had a structure and a form.
With regard to choosing a new name we assumed simple roles in the process: I would come up with lots and lots of random and truly terrible names, James would tell me I'm an idiot and add a few to the mix, our marketing angel added some, and Hugh would stress about how on earth he would craft a logo around the choices on offer.
But, as a process, it kind of worked, and eventually we whittled the contenders down to a short list. Then we booked an evening in the diary, met up at our local in Farringdon, bought a few beers, and got deciding.
So when I woke up, a little hungover if I'm honest, in early April 2014, Coolgarif Tech was no more. Say hello to AltViz.
We believe that AltViz represents the enterprise technology company that we have grown into. It represents our design centric approach to data visualisation technology. We like the idea of being alternative in our approach, working directly with our enterprise customers, understanding their specific business problems, and using our expertise to create amazing technology solutions for them.
We have a bold vision for where we want to take AltViz. We have an extremely dedicated team working with exciting customers on projects that will bring meaningful change to organisations. AltViz has technology that is world class and at the forefront of the practice of data visualisation. We will continue to push hard, move fast, invest in our own skills, and the brand as a whole.
PS @davidLJWharton you can stop telling us to "get a proper name" now.