Branding: Pivot the mission…not the brand

Amazon…….. when I say Amazon, you say dot com.

Yet when I was a kid, before cars were invented, Amazon referred to a river in South America or a Rain Forest or a race of warrior women or something like that.

Amazon…what a stupid name for a company that sells books. Why didn’t they call themselves BookSwap, or Borders (okay, maybe because Borders was taken)? When Amazon was founded they only sold books. That’s it. So why did they go with such an ambiguous moniker?

From selling only books they pivoted and started selling everything and then they didn’t change their name to EverythingSwap. Then they pivoted and starting selling everyone else’s everything and didn’t change their name to eSwap. Then they pivoted and started selling cloud services and they didn’t change their name to CloudSwap. Then they pivoted and started selling a labor marketplace called Mechanical Turk but they didn’t change the company name to Mech.me.

Trek deep into the rainforest and ask a Native Indian Brazilian (or whatever the latest PC term is for those folks) the question, “what is Amazon?” They will put down their stone-age weapons and pick up their eReader and say…..”That’s where I get my kindle books.” Amazon.com is the first thing everyone thinks of when they hear that word. Somehow this company executed to perfection and created the brand that co-opted the Amazon from the River and the Jungle. In this litigious society, it’s knd of amazing that Brazil didn’t sue them for copyright infringement.

You see it cost money and time to build a great brand. To build a following, to get noticed, to profit from all the hard work to get press, win contests and earn goodwill. So you’d be wise to choose a company name that will support a mission change. You wouldn’t want to change National Tire Warehouse to National Tire and Battery when you started selling batteries.  You don’t waste your investors capital rebranding every time you have a new whim.

Take DC Tech’s own Troop Swap, or is it TroopID or is it ID.me? A company that’s still trying to find itself . In 3 years this company changed its name every time a new Snap-on Tools Calendar was published.

Look there’s a significant cost of money and resources when you’ve spent time and money building a brand name and then switch names. There’s all the wasted cash, manpower,  PR, efforts to build the abandoned brand and then there’s all the confusion created by and the expense of building a new brand.

Estimated Cost – $51K – $145K

  • Buying a URL: $20 – 80K
  • New Business Cards: $1 – 5K
  • New Web Site: $10 – 30K
  • New Corporate Brochures: $5K
  • New Nifty Company Trinkets: $5K
  • Misc: $10K – 20K

So don’t you think that a company that had been through the rebranding once before would have learned their lesson prior to repeating the same lunacy and naming the company after their latest target market……. again? Don’t you think they’d teach that at Harvard Business School? Yet here they go with just another pivot that if history is any predictor of the future will repeat itself as soon as the latest pivot fails and they roll out the next greatest newest brand name.

Hey, I have an idea for the next brand. How about InvesterSinkHole (good news I checked and the URL is available for only $10.00)?

As Whitey Bolger can tell you there are advantages to constant name changes. After all, it’s harder to hit a moving target and in the case of ID.me you would rather have people look you up in a websites like Glassdoor.com under ID.me, where there’s no history, then TroopSwap where there is a tarnished history.

When you’re naming your company, remember it’s not the name of the company that makes the brand, it’s the heart of the company, the why of the company, the what of the company that counts. If you’re not a quality company with real core values that you authentically represent, the name doesn’t count for squat. Even if you have 3 of them.

So go out and make your own Amazon. And for legal reasons, please don’t call it Amazon. Maybe you could get a deal on the name Troop Swap?