How We Rebranded Our Existing SaaS Company in Less Than 24 Hours
Planyard is a construction budget management and cost control software for main contractors and full-service design companies.
We had been using the name Fizure for a couple of years. However, it had some major downsides:
- it was unpronounceable over the phone (outbound sales is one of the main channels for us);
- it had some negative connotations (“a crack in the road”);
- it was not tied to the industry we were serving (i.e. to construction).
We had even some customers and partners who tried to pronounce the name in three different ways during the same call.
So, a bit reluctantly, we decided to change the name. Here’s how we did it in less than 24 hours with two people. In fact, we started around 5pm and were mostly done by midnight.
Making the decision
We’ve been discussing a possible brand name change for at least a year. But every time this came up we kind of ended with endless brainstorms.
What we needed was to write the goals down — why we’re doing it and what are we looking for in the new name.
This is what we ended up with:
- It needs to be easily pronounceable over the phone in various European languages;
- It needs to be tied to the construction industry;
- It should leave room to grow (in terms of functionality);
- The .com domain needs to be available;
- The brand name should be registrable;
- It shouldn’t sound too “startuppy” (as construction is a conservative industry).
Once we got that nailed down it was way easier to brainstorm and decide which names met the criteria and which ones didn’t.
We used some name generators such as Namelix as a starting point. It kinda worked to get the thinking going.
What was also important was looking at synonyms and associated words in dictionaries.
Coming up with names can be quite draining, so, we usually did brainstorms after all the other work was done (i.e. as the last thing in the agenda when having a meeting).
I also noticed that asynchronous brainstorming tended to work a bit better. I.e. just posting names to Slack in one long thread instead of trying to keep everyone on the call for the duration of the brainstorm.
We ended up with around 15 names that all looked pretty okay. But it’s still a lot to choose from and I wanted to speed up the process. That’s where elimination rounds came handy.
We did two rounds of shortlisting via Google Forms and Slack:
- Pick one name that should not be our brand name;
- Pick one name that should definitely be tested out further.
This meant that we ended up with four names. We discussed those four through further and in the end decided to test out two. But we bought domains for all four, just in case.
Testing out the names
We didn’t want to make the same mistake as with Fizure. So, testing was essential.
The testing was done in two ways:
- Talking with existing and potential customers;
- Running a test in UsabilityHub.
UsabilityHub is super useful because you can ask feedback from a lot of different countries (and speakers of different languages) that you may not necessarily have as signups.
The questions we asked when showing two different brand names to people:
- Which of the two brand names would you pick for business software?
- When you think of the brand name (that you chose above), what comes to mind first? (Please include all associations, no matter whether positive or negative.)
- Which industry might be the software directed at?
- How easy is it to pronounce the name?
- How does the name make you feel?
In retrospect, we should have specified the last question a bit more or maybe asked something else. But this didn’t ruin the test.
The fourth question could have been more specific as well — we don’t necessarily know whether they answered it from the perspective of English or their mother tongue.
From the first question we got answers like “A place for planning projects, a backyard to meet people to plan” and “Architecture Platform Community”.
We didn’t see any negative associations, people said it was pronounceable and it connected loosely to construction and planning. It was good enough, we felt.
Running a test like that and seeing the answers helped the team let go of their own preferences and get the buy in from everyone.
Keep language variations in mind
There was one name that pretty much everyone of us liked and that sounded great. It had the word “era” in it.
Luckily, I spoke with friends from different parts of the world who are native in English. I discovered that in Australian English “era” is actually pronounced the same as “error”.
Split rebranding into two pieces — marketing changes for everyone and technical setup for existing customers
Each company has several target groups — potential customers, partners, existing customers.
I wrote the first plan in 15 minutes. It contained these goals:
- Make sure our internal tools keep working
- Don’t lose any SEO traffic
- Don’t confuse people (no matter which segment)
- Protect the brand
- Create media attention around it
In total there were close to 50 subtasks. When going over them I realized that we actually don’t need them all right now.
We could have tried to make all the changes at once. But I think the best decision we made was to split easier marketing tasks apart from the rest of the work that wasn’t essential. Otherwise the work could have been quite daunting and taken weeks to do.
This meant that we changed the logo on the website and changed email signatures, for example, but we didn’t change the email domains (not for us nor the ones that our customers use for forwarding cost documents to Planyard).
In fact, some of the technical tasks are still in the backlog and that’s fine.
Making the changes
We started by renaming our Slack and Notion workspaces. Just to get ourselves to the right mindset.
Register the brand
We didn’t do that as the first thing but should have. We did check the availability as the first thing but the registration itself was done at a later stage.
Changing the logo
I’ve seen this a lot. People obsess over their logos. They have no customer base and no traffic but they think that a new logo changes the game. It won’t. Distribution will.
Logos only start to matter when the market is oversaturated and there’s no functional difference between brands (e.g. if you’re selling sugar water or gasoline cars). This is clearly not the case with construction software.
So, I used the same font that we used for our previous logo and spent 10 minutes on it in Canva.
The only thing to note here is that I added “by Fizure” there to keep consistency for those who already know us as Fizure. (And, changing our juridical company name was out of scope anyway.)
For favicons we used a free online generator.
Could it be better? Sure. Does it matter in terms of getting customers? No.
Changing AdWords in bulk
Not much else to say here except that if you have a lot of AdWords ads, then I’d recommend using Google Ads Editor.
You can just search for the text you want to replace there and make the replacement in all the ads at once.
Website changes in Wordpress
We’ve got a lot pages in Wordpress, so, making the changes one by one would have been super painful.
Luckily, there are plugins out there for making bulk changes. We used the one called Better Search Replace.
So, “Fizure” was replaced by “Planyard” on all the pages in less than a minute.
Just be careful to only change the text and not URL names. Otherwise the internal links will stop working.
Web app changes & support center changes
We did only two changes there. We changed the logo and replaced our old brand name in the texts.
We saw that need coming, so, we implemented a localization platform (Lokalise) a while ago. This has allowed us to quickly launch new languages but also to make bulk changes to labels (text).
It probably took us less than 15 minutes to make sure both the support center and web app are using the new brand name.
We just did a 301 redirect (“moved permanently”) and that was it basically. NGIX came in handy for that.
We didn’t have that many referring domains that would bring quality traffic to start with, so, most of the other effort went to just updating links in the ads.
Otherwise I would have looked at referring domains in GA and sorted them by traffic and traffic quality and probably contacted the top ones to change the links etc.
Looking at our organic traffic, we haven’t lost anything in the search volume, so, all good.
It seems most other apps just kept on working. Intercom, Google Analytics, Amplitude, Hubspot etc.
We did change the names and domains there but might as well have not done it.
Announcing the change
We let some of the existing customers know in advance in person.
Others we just informed via email, blog post, inapp message and a banner on the website.
We also sent out press releases about the name change and informed our leads list as well.
To be honest, most people didn’t even notice it. I don’t think we had a single email or comment back about the brand name change, except only some feedback in private conversations.
I wish that we would have made the change earlier. We would have just had less work to do.
Another thing is you grow more and more attached to the old name. Even if it’s a bad one. In some conversations we still unintentionally use “Fizure” instead of “Planyard” when talking about the product. It’s harder to remove the old name from our brains than from our marketing materials. The sooner you make the change, the better.
Most of the time goes to making the decision. Once the decision is made, the rebranding itself doesn’t take much time.
So, in the end, it comes down to making the decision. But to do that you need to identify the reasons and the criteria for choosing the new brand.
We’ve seen the same thing happening with construction companies using Planyard. Most of the time goes to discussing whether it’s the right fit or not, how the processes should be changed etc. Once the decision is made, however, we are able to onboard them in even a couple of hours.