Here is something you may or may not know about Treefort: we acquired the initial beta platform from a senior designer at a top tech company. I spent 3 months refining, building and improving the platform and completely re-designing the website to take the beta to a scalable, production-ready Software-as-a-Service company.
As a no-code startup built on Bubble.is, making design and logic changes was pretty simple, but learning the setup from the previous owner proved a little tricky and I often found I’d break a lot before finding what needed fixing.
We ran a short test-drive lifetime deal with DealMirror to gain a little more traction and revenue to drive a small marketing effort and the planned rebrand of the company — it worked pretty well. Shortly after, we applied for YCombinator class of 2020, we got through to the interview stage and as CEO I flew out to Paris within a couple of days of seeing the invite, and pitched the future of Treefort to 3 top tier former CEOs and founders — what an experience and, kudos to YC, they were super nice guys. This also helps a little with interest and put us on the map for some other big names, and it was nice to get a little shoutout from Bubble as well:
Now, after a hell of a lot of planning and going through 200 names with my Growth Consultant Debdut Mukherjee, we finally settled on the right brand name to take what was Treefort into a profitable and exciting future.
So without further ado, I break down the process from start to finish of the rebrand and why we settled on ‘AnnounceFly’.
Treefort’s Original Brand
The reason for the re-brand is two-fold. Treefort, although a great name with a stunning logo (below), there was one major problem: SEO competition. Unfortunately, there is a fairly popular music festival called Treefort Festival, so any Googling led you straight to that festival with hundreds of high domain authority backlinks and press coverage dominating the results pages. My team and I were pretty fixed on appearing as the top search result, so this wasn’t going to work. We had also acquired the beta under the Treefort brand and I felt compelled to ‘make it mine’ and refresh the branding to reflect its new identity and new ownership. So, it begins.
- The Brainstorming Process
This process is always a nightmare. When naming a startup it can go one of two ways: either the perfect name just pops into my head, the domain is available and the keyword competition is low. This is the golden trio and is rare, but has happened for me once before!
In the case of Treefort’s rebrand. It was the opposite.
We created a card on Asana and over the course of around a week, Debdut and I pumped the card full of potential brand names. Some were pretty nice, some sucked. To give you an idea of some concepts we were playing with I’ve listed a few below:
I wanted the name to both stand out, but also ‘blend’ with the existing SaaS ecosystem, i.e the name needed to be trendy but also fit the type of business we are: enterprise-level software for small/medium businesses.
Shypmate was the one we really loved and started the bid process for the .com domain, but it was not long before we realized that YC had already funded a Nigerian shipping company called Shypmate, so we quickly scrubbed that name (despite investing a little in the domain). Back to the drawing board.
Maybe it was the trip to Paris to the Front office, or maybe it was my love for ‘able’ words, but I then stumbled across a combination of the two and ended up with ‘Frontable’. Again, I started to bid on the .com. I think at this point Debdut became a key anchor for me as I tend to get overly creative and start running before I can walk. I ended up getting a logo mockup done on Fiverr just to see what Frontable would look like as a brand. If I do say so, it’s pretty nifty for $10:
I was super excited to get this out there and see what Debdut said. It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping:
I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed by the response, but I now see how crucial it is not to jump the gun when the actual brand wasn’t fully developed yet, so I can only thank Debdut for his continued support, creativity and criticality in time where I may struggle to be critical of my thinking. A strong team doesn’t let each other live in the clouds, it’s important to keep each other grounded and focused on building a core product and brand, taking it one step at a time.
2) Bringing It All Together
Days spent brainstorming weird names, finding the .com if it was available and then finding out the SEO ability was draining. I can safely say I’d hate to own a branding agency — 99% of applicable domains do not have a .com and startups can only accept that, settle for .io or else, or if they have the funds make an offer for the .com.
Despite not having the perfect name, we did have a process that allowed us to understand what worked and what didn’t. To meet our criteria, it had to be relevant to what we do: roadmaps, changelog software and user engagement solutions to involve your customers in your product’s future. The word ‘Announcement’ popped into my head. Perfect, I thought. Let’s fire up Godaddy and of course such a common word would be taken.
Next comes the application of something techy to make the name work.
I experimented first with ‘AnnounceScout’ — too long. Announceify — too irritatingly common sounding (the use of ‘ily’, ‘ify’ endings for startups is too common to build a strong brand around).
So it was back to Asana to see if I could combine ‘announce’ with another word we had already considered. I saw it. A few days earlier I had penciled in ‘Greenfly’ (I know, not great). ‘Fly’ felt like an inviting word that carried a soft sound but also had an element of speed to it. This ties in perfectly with our 2-minute learning curve at Treefort, so the speed of setup tied in with ‘fly’.
Combining the two was pretty simple at that point: ‘AnnounceFly’. Great, so I had a nice brandable name that carried over our value of a speedy setup, suggested what we do as a company and overall just sounded like something you’d find in San Francisco.
3) Now the scary bits.
I fired up Godaddy and 100% expected announcefly.com to be taken. Most of the time someone somewhere has bought it and is either sitting on it or trying to flog it.
I couldn’t believe it. Immediately I felt that sudden fear that someone else might grab it (maybe someone over my shoulder saw…) and added it straight to my basket and bought the domain. Perfect!
Next, it was time to Google the word and check nothing was already dominating the search engine results that we would be competing with. Nothing. I mean literally no competition. I then knew this was the perfect brand that met all requirements and sounded pretty nifty.
Next, in my true style, I started working with another designer to get the logo done so I could review it in situ on the website. This was what we received:
It was pretty perfect but we felt it needed just one tweak to the color set to emphasize the product development side and the decisions our users would be making with their products.
I decided that a traffic light style color scheme would help integrate the decision side of product development. I settled on a nice green, red and (breaking the traditional traffic light colors) blue scheme that is now integrated throughout the website and application, and reflected in the icon. We felt this was the right scheme and logo, with a small acknowledgment to our former brand underneath that we would incorporate for a short while during the transition.
Here is the final result:
So What’s Next?
Where do we go from here, you might ask? Well, the first thing is the rebrand will in no way affect users, subscriptions or any kind of lifetime deal you may have bought. So don’t worry about that.
As a company, we are continually evolving and now stand 6 people strong. We have just released our new Changelog widget feature that lets you keep your customers in the loop with updates and announcements in your product.
To stay up to date, follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages below for free tips, videos and blog content, and subscribe to our official Medium channel.
If you are interested in using AnnounceFly in your SaaS to find out what your customers want and build the right product, then start a 14 day free trial now at www.announcefly.com
What do you think? Do you like the new brand? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!