Is there anything more difficult than naming a company? Perhaps re-naming a company.

We have happily been operating as Winnow Analytics for over a year now, but it became increasingly obvious that we needed to rebrand. The longer we waited to do so, the more painful it would become. Here are a few reasons why we rebranded:

  • Other companies have the “Winnow” name and “Winnow” named products
  • Our URL is really long (
  • We do not currently rank on the first several pages of Google’s search results for “Winnow,” which is how most people refer to us
  • Multiple investors and customers have suggested it

I’ve had the privilege of operating as a contracting CMO for Winnow (now RelayiQ) for several months now, and I take branding for startups very seriously. I’ve also had the privilege of naming quite few products, services, and projects over the years and have picked up new tips, tricks, and lessons along the way.   

The best advice I have heard on naming a company is that you want it to be a word everyone can say and spell. Ideally, if someone asked you where you work while you were in a noisy bar, you should be able to say the name of your company loudly back to them and have them know what you are saying on the first try. Ideally it will also be memorable enough and easy enough to spell that they can Google it when they get home.

Once we committed to a rebrand, we set some other guidelines for the new name:

  • Should immediately communicate what we do
  • Needs to resonate with customers and investors
  • Ideally 7 or less letters long
  • Dot com name needs to be available
  • Easy to dominate in search results  

As soon as you combine the restrictions of “seven or less letters” with “dot com domain needs to be available,” the world of potential names is winnowed down very fast. Luckily, we came up with a solid candidate pretty quickly.

We see it as our mission to solve the “last-mile” communication problem in analytics. Companies have collectively invested billions in analytics, but stop short of actually relaying the intelligence to the decision makers in the organization and ultimately come up short on measurable results. We solve this problem by relaying intelligence directly to the decision makers through actionable customized alerts that are sent straight to their inbox and/or Slack channels. If you shorten “relaying intelligence” you get RelayIQ… it’s exactly what we do!

There is also an obvious twofold reference here: First to “relaying insights”; but second, to the idea of a “relay race” where each runner hands off the baton to the next runner. The problem that we solve is that last hand-off of insights into the hands of those who can act on them.

As a bonus, we also really like the branding potential for users and think it could function linguistically similar to names like Slack that eventually become nouns and verbs. “Did you receive the Relay yesterday on the delay in inventory?” or “I told Sue to Relay the entire sales team on their inbound lead queues any time they exceed fifty.”

For founders, naming a company is quite literally like naming a baby. So while Brian and Anthony liked “RelayiQ,” they understandably wanted to continue the search. We came up with dozens of other solid candidates, but as the exercise went on, the name “RelayiQ” increasingly grew on us. This is, of course, how branding works: Exposure and familiarity drive the power and stickiness of the name. To help visualize the brand, we also went through one hundred or so logo variations.

As with naming, I have accumulated wisdom from others on logo design over the years.

Simpler is better. IBM, Ford, Apple have simple, iconic logos. As companies grow, their logos get even simpler (and thus more memorable).

It should look good if embroidered in tiny format on the sleeve of a shirt or printed the size of an enormous billboard.

It needs to “feel” like it represents the spirit of the company. Would you be proud to wear a shirt with it around a trade show or even on the weekend?

Below are a few of the later stages we went through with the logo development.

Once we settled on a logo we liked, whatever doubts we had about the name were gone. Brian presented the new brand to our investors and customers, and it received a positive reception across the board! Anthony literally ran the “noisy bar” test, telling someone he worked at “RelayiQ.” They clearly understood him and repeated it back.

Naming is subjective and difficult, and not everyone will love the new name right out of the gate. But we hope that our rapidly growing community embraces the name and the spirit of delivering intelligence to those who need it. Positive associations to brands are built on actions, not designs. We believe that we can help people deliver on the dream of the data-driven organization. If we accomplish this we are certain that people will love our new branding.

RelayiQ – It’s what we do!