Crowdsourcing can be used to procure all kinds of services. Typically, small businesses use crowdsourcing websites when they want to design a new website or logo. But how about something as significant as changing an existing company's name?
That's what Pixily, a company that provides a digital filing system and document scanning for small businesses, did when it changed its name to OfficeDrop. Healy Jones, OfficeDrop's head of marketing, spearheaded a crowdsourcing project both employees and customers to compile ideas and find a new company name. She answered our questions about the process.
Why did you decide to change your company's name from Pixily to OfficeDrop?
The main issue was that customers found no explicit meaning in the old name. People also had problems remembering and spelling Pixily. The old name failed to explicitly reflect the nature of the services we provided as a document scanning and digital filing company that helps small businesses and home offices get organized and go paperless. In fact, a lot of people confused us with an online video company.
What were your goals in choosing a new name?
Our very first step in deciding on a new name was making sure whatever we chose overcame the issues with Pixily. The new name had to be simple to remember, easy to say, easy to spell and Illustrative of our service. We also set some restrictions for things like length, composition, and interpretability. The length had to be at or under ten characters, not easily confused with any other companies' names and the domain name had to be purchasable - and finding a good domain name is not easy these days.
How did you start?
Once we knew what we wanted, we had to find a way to generate some names. Since we were lucky enough to have a great group of creative employees, we started by running our own little in house crowdsourcing program. To do this we held a day-long, company-wide brainstorming session. The first part of this session was intended to help us define the character and values of our company. Then we came up with words that represented these ideas. Finally, we hashed out how these words came together or inspired other words that could become our new company's name. We weren't expecting to come up with the single answer that would be the best name, but rather a list of great ideas that we could whittle down later into a few solid finalists.
Any specific tips for the brainstorming/crowdsourcing session?
While crowdsourcing sounds simple enough, there are a few tips that I think are very important. First of all, we had our CEO spend a few minutes explaining his vision. We did this because we wanted to focus our idea generation, but didn't overdo it because it is easy to have someone like the CEO drown out the ideas from our junior employees. I'd recommend the following steps to avoid groupthink:
- Have people brainstorm independently before sharing their ideas
- Let the junior team members go first so that they would not feel intimidated by the management
- Let everyone know it is ok to share silly or outlandish ideas by having the CEO share some funny ones. If he or she is open, then other people will be more likely to feel open. This is how we ran the session: Everyone had a pad of paper and a pen.
We intentionally had the most junior person lead the session - in this case, Matt the intern. Idea generation was focused by categories that we previously determined. Matt would present a category (example: objects you associate with the company) and allow us an allotted time (5-10 minutes) to independently and privately put our thoughts on paper. After we'd worked our way through a series of categories, we shared our ideas with each other and Matt wrote them all on large easel pads and attached them to the wall.
How did you narrow down the list?
We didn't want to get too excited about names that we'd never be able to get the domain name for. This is where the fact that we are a technology company was helpful; our CTO built a quick script that queried whois.net to find out if any of the .com domains were already owned. We also split up the list and enlisted the help of some employees to visit each potential name's .com address and see if there was a company living there or not. This process eliminated a number of our favorites, but we still had a good selection. We were left with a list of about 30 decent names. Our next step was to ask our employees to vote for their favorites. By using a vote-based survey emailed throughout the company, it only took a couple of iterations to bring the name list down to a manageable number. We used Google Documents to do this. By this time we had a much more manageable list of potential names.
How did you end up with OfficeDrop?
To land the final name, we did even more crowdsourcing - this time we called and sat down with customers. We asked them what they would think if we changed our name and then presented them with the short list of potential names. It was great to speak with customers about the change. We found that a number of them really identified with the Pixily name, but also that a lot of them never really liked the name and didn't understand why it was our company's name. Once we narrowed the names to around 10, we did a formal customer survey to give our users the final say. This is where the real use of the most important crowd came into play. Our customers were a great help with choosing the name. OfficeDrop came out #1 in the polls. Not only did people like it, but OfficeDrop also had high recall. It also came out with a high percentage of positive comments and few negative ones. That's how we knew we had found our new name.