In August 2017 we decided to make the brave leap and go it alone into the big bad world of software development and consultancy, finally emancipating ourselves from our London overlords.
Just kidding - Softwire are a great company where husband and wife team Ric and Emily had spent 12 happy years working before moving to Bristol. They then started here with a small team - some of whom had also worked in London, but soon were attracting interest from graduates and clients and some years later harboured a 35-strong team. It was time to fly the nest. We were all super excited - and a little nervous - and we all contributed to the re-brand decisions. We also sought support from Proctor + Stevenson who helped enormously with shaping the brand.
Where to start with a brand new name?
Ever wonder who came up with names like Uber or Amazon? Names that seemingly come totally out of left field, but in retrospect sum up the company perfectly? It’s really not an accident. See 2017’s best and worst brand names to see how a name can affect everything.
And yet the name is not where it begins or ends. A name is a large part of a brand and a brand needs to capture a bit of everything. It needs to contain the very philosophy and purpose of a company. But who were we? Why did we feel we needed our own identity? We all knew a little bit of it, but we needed to discuss it and build a shared understanding; a shared mission and purpose for software development, life, the universe and everything. Tough gig.
So we had a big meeting...
And then another. And then some whiteboard daubings, collaborative spreadsheets, ad-hoc discussions, collective soul-searching and heated philosophical debates.
And after all that we arrived at an articulation of it all - which essentially creates a brief for the brand by laying out the purpose of it for all to see. The challenge was now clear - come up with a name which satisfies the brief.
Distilling the purpose
If any time is the time to get creative, it is now. You have to throw as many ideas up on the wall as you can. It will be chaotic, it can seem prone to error, but it’s just the only way. But with a clear brief you can immediately reject those ideas - and this is the real art of practical creativity - simultaneously total openness and ruthless culling.
We got well over 100 names. But everyone commented on the proposed ideas as to whether they felt they met the brief, and raised any concerns. Here are some that nearly made it, and their reasons for rejection:
- Swestech - too much like hanging on to our old name of "Softwire West"
- Momoweb - sounds like we only do web design
- Mabel - Too close to other names, key URLs taken
- Fixl - Sounds like we just fix things
- Valley - Too close to other names, key URLs taken, sounds like we only service Wales
- Panagon - A bit corporate
In the end, we chose one that gave us most scope for brand-building, and one with the clearest and most apt associations - and with an added Bristolian story to share: Ghyston.
Why do we think this paints a decent picture of us?
- We both achieve great, long-lasting things.
- We’re both motivated and caring.
- We both know about the importance of a good work/life balance.
- We’re both Bristol legends!
We also join a prestigious list of companies inspired by mythology:
How is the name doing now?
As you might imagine with a team of developers with enquiring, critical minds - there was some resistance to the change.
"No-one can spell it!"
"No-one can pronounce it!"
"No-one knows the Giant story!"
Yes, there was some truth to all of these. But a year on, we have lived through the brand and had some excellent feedback on materials, events and recruitment drives. As we now cement ourselves into the ranks of SEO and the consciousnesses of the South West software scene, we find that the aforementioned naming issues weren't really issues at all. Spelling issues by themselves are only important for searching (and we had that covered); but more importantly spelling and pronouncing issues affect memorability. However, in reality what we needed most was to stand out and attract attention. The most common feedback we get from both recruitment fairs and from clients is that our people are enthusiastic, friendly and know their stuff. So as long as we get a foot in the door, and reinforce our name on documents and freebies, then memorability and positive associations will be consistently high - no matter if the name is unusual. As for the story - well this only helps! It creates some character and - for the amateur psychologists - eases the commitment into long-term memory.
So we are pleased with the result and enjoyed the journey - admittedly riding some waves along the way. It's never easy, but valuable things often aren't.