March 21st 2017 was a big day in our history, as we launched WeAnswer – the new name for our Contact Centre business.
Any change of this type usually prompts two immediate questions:
- Why did we decide to change the brand name?
- How was the brand name chosen?
The reasons for our name change are detailed in a separate blog, so this post will deal exclusively with the ‘how’ – and to some extent the ‘who’, where relevant.
Having decided to keep the process mainly ‘in-house’, we struggled to find much relevant guidance on how to approach this project in the early days. We knew where we wanted to get to – but were not entirely sure about how to get there.
This resulted in an exciting, revealing – but often frustrating – journey for everyone involved.
We hope that sharing our own experience will help and inform people facing their own, similar challenge in the future, and provide some insight on how our new name came into being.
“Are we making the right decision?”
It was October 2016. And from the off, we were faced with touch decisions.
Even deciding whether to begin the process was difficult. How would clients, colleagues and commercial partners respond to us changing the name we’ve had for two decades? Was it really necessary?
Ultimately, we decided it was.
Our contact centre service, which began as an offshoot of our successful hotline business in the 1990s, had long since grown into a serious entity in its own right. It was time for distinction between the two, and a fresh new identity.
Keeping it in-house
While some of the marketing and senior team had been involved in brand launches/relaunches in the past, none of us had ever been involved with the renaming of an established service as a standalone brand.
We were fairly sure we wanted to keep the renaming process in-house, so we looked for guidance online and spoke to our own contacts about similar experiences they’d had.
We soon discovered that there was no ‘right’ way to go about this.
The approach taken would ultimately depend on who we felt should be involved in the process, the timescales we were working to, and the budgets available.
Having set a one month deadline to conclude the naming process, and decided against risking budget on an unknown outcome with an external agency, we set about coming up with the perfect name…
The decision-making body
As the decision to change the name had been taken by the senior management and marketing team, we set up a steering group with members from each.
Added to this were members of the sales team, who had a strong understanding of the market and of what potential clients would be looking for or expecting.
Together, this group would be responsible choosing the final name (as well as contributing name ideas).
The ideas machine
At the weekly management meeting (involving all departmental heads from across the business), managers were introduced to the rebranding plan and invited to contribute ideas over the next two weeks.
They were also invited to share this with their teams to help generate as many ideas as possible.
Alongside this, a short questionnaire was prepared for all staff to complete, which asked them to note down three words they would use to describe the business’ personality. While this was primarily done for the purposes of a different project (development of new corporate values), we hoped it may provide some useful insight.
Collating the ideas
Over the next two weeks ideas were submitted from around the business to the marketing team, by email and in person. Some individuals really enjoyed getting involved in the creative process, contributing multiple names and taking a keen interest in other ideas that had been submitted.
The marketing team conducted an initial sweep of the ideas to remove those that might prove tricky to trademark or obtain a domain name for. Unfortunately, this excluded some of our early favourites.
The questionnaire responses were also collated and recorded in a spreadsheet. A wordcloud was generated to show the highlight commonly-used words.
Deciding on a winning name (Take 1)
The decision-making team gathered to review the suggestions. The 40 names that had survived the filtering process were written on a whiteboard and discussed by the decision-making group.
At the same time, the findings of the questionnaire exercise were shared.
It became clear that very few of the names were universally liked by all members of the group, and those that showed promise did not reflect colleagues’ view of the business (‘friendly’ was the most commonly-used word by some distance).
The group decided that:
- None of the 40 names listed were going to be ‘the winning name’
- Four names (Inteligys, Agilicom, Agilitel, Parlia) contained an idea or concept that could be developed further
- An ‘open’ workshop would be held the following week
In terms of what the final brand name should look and feel like, it was agreed that it had to:
- express friendliness and approachability
- contain sense of fun or playfulness (but not frivolity)
- convey either what we do, how we do it, and/or the benefits our service offers
- be unique but understandable (i. you wouldn’t find it in a dictionary, but its component parts are recognisable)
The ‘open’ workshop
A new workshop was planned, with the aim of encouraging as many people as possible from around the business to contribute and debate ideas.
The goal was (again) to find and agree on a winning brand name for our contact centre service.
The session was communicated out to colleagues as an ‘open door’ session where people could come and go to fit with their schedule. We held the session at lunchtime in a meeting room with a large whiteboard and plenty of pens to make it as interactive as possible.
Most importantly, we provided a free lunch that could be enjoyed in exchange for at least one idea!
To try and make the session as efficient and focused as possible, we come up with a few ground rules which were written on the side of the whiteboard. This stated that all names should:
- Not present any obvious trademarking issues
- Hint at what we do, how we work, our personality, or one of our USPs
- Have a related web domain available
- Be unambiguous in its spelling (i. if you heard the name over the phone, you would be able to write it correctly without needing it to be spelled out)
The workshop proved to be a really fun, collaborative event involving senior management, IT, finance, sales and marketing, account management, contact centre team leaders and agents, and members of our training teams.
(Unfortunately we forgot to take any pictures of this vibrant, buzzing hive of activity, but it probably looked pretty similar to this…)
By the end of the session we’d added another 50 names to the list for consideration, and taken votes on the most popular.
The outputs were left on the whiteboard for consideration by the decision-making group (most of whom had not been in the workshop) the next day.
“We answer phones…”
Immediately after the workshop, one of our esteemed colleagues (let’s call him Mikey) stuck his head around the door of the marketing office to say:
If none of those names work out, we could just go with “we answer phones and emails and web chat”.
As Mikey knows, we actually do a lot more than that (we helpfully suggested he take a look at our services page to remind himself).
But as he left, a thought crossed our mind. Maybe, just maybe, he’d inadvertently offered the best idea yet…
Deciding on a winning name (Take 2)
As the team gathered around the whiteboard the next day there was silent analysis of the ideas in front of them.
“There are some great ideas up there,” said one of the directors, “but none of them are really grabbing me”.
It turned out that everyone in the room was thinking the same thing.
“We do have one more idea,” said a member of the marketing team. “It was meant as a joke by Mikey, but we quite like it. What do you think of ‘WeAnswer’?”
More silence and thoughtful looks…and then a few nods (normally a good sign when company directors are involved), followed by vocal, unified agreement.
And that, as they say, was that.
Four months on
Fast forward to March 2017, and we’ve successfully launched our new brand name.
Of course, there were a few more steps along the way (deciding on the right brand identity is worthy of a blog post in its own right) but they were relatively straightforward tasks compared to the challenge of renaming an already-thriving, established business.
Having completed the process, we remain of the opinion that there is no ‘right way’ to go about this process.
And if we did it again, we’d probably do it slightly differently.
For example, would a smaller decision-making group be more effective? Should its make-up have been more representative of the wider business? Would having a more open discussion forum at the outset make it easier to ‘sell’ the change internally?
One thing our process did prove was that no matter how well you plan and structure a process like this, the best ideas can come from a moment of pure spontaneity.
If it hadn’t been for Simon’s Mikey’s offhand comment, we might still have been staring at that whiteboard.