Rebranding Uberflip – A look back 1 year in…

March 19, 2013 Yoav Schwartz

We did it. We talked about it for years – not weeks, or months – years. And although the pros didn’t overwhelmingly outweigh the cons, we finally pulled the trigger and began the process of rebranding our company from “Mygazines” to “Uberflip”.

I had thought about rebranding from very early on. Our previous name combined the words “my” and “magazine”, and since “Mygazine” wasn’t available as a .com, we went with the plural “Mygazines” <– mistake #1.

The name was clever though as our core offering when we first launched back in 2008 was a consumer product for users to upload their magazines and also to create new magazines by compiling articles they liked from various other magazines. These compilations would be known as “mygazines”. However, like many startups in their infancy, we had a great product but no market fit. We quickly pivoted and turned our consumer product into a B2B offering that helped magazine publishers easily create great experiences from the flat, boring PDFs they were currently using to distribute their publications. The concept of creating compiled magazines started taking a back seat, and before long, the original concept of the name began losing its meaning – it was too narrowly focused <– mistake #2.

That said, we were offering a solution to magazine publishers so the name still worked, we simply adjusted the brand to convey more of a professional, and less consumer-ish appeal.

But we weren’t done evolving our business. Within a year we discovered that our solution had great application outside the media publishing industry for collateral such as brochures, whitepapers, financial reports and other multi-page documents, especially for companies that could benefit from hosted page-turning flipbooks that came with analytics on users’ engagement.

While we started seeing huge growth in various verticals, we also starting hitting a wall with our messaging: calling a financial services company and saying you’re calling from “Mygazines” was a door closer – “sorry, we don’t have a magazine. Bye-bye”.

It’s not easy to rebrand, and the longer you wait, the harder it gets because you’re constantly looking back at what you’ve already invested into your current brand. As a bootstrapped company we didn’t have the money to fix this problem the old fashioned way – promote the heck out of your new brand with paid ads. This decision was huge. But we knew that our future depended on it, so in late September 2011 we took the plunge and began the process…

It wasn’t just about a new name. It was about a new image, a new way of messaging and ultimately a completely radical change to our go-to-market strategy.

Rebranding gave us the motivation to fix several problems that lingered, because when you have to change basically “everything”, you might as well fix whatever’s broken too. The major changes included how we were selling our product (currently only through direct sales), but the new brand would sell through a free trial signup – so marketing would be imperative to bringing in new customers more so than ever before. Messaging – we were no longer only for media publishers, we were for marketers looking to leverage their existing and new content – we were and are (among other things) an inbound marketing solution for multi-page documents.

First thing’s first – a new name. What should it be? We quickly took to Domainr and started thinking of creative names that generalized our product without pigeonholing us into a specific vertical. At first we gravitated towards names that insinuated “tablet” since tablet publishing was (and still is) such a hot topic.

Examples:

- tabulous (taken)
- insert 50 others that were also taken
- Tabuki (almost went with this! lol)

3 weeks in of 24/7 name pondering and still no name that made sense.  Then, while standing in line at Burrito Boys on Adelaide, it struck us – “Flipbound”!! It had everything – “flip” for “flipbooks”, “bound” for “inbound marketing” and the .com was available!

Considering that at this point we had already purchased over 10 domains that we thought were “it” based on user groups and general gut feeling, having a name that really hit the mark was pure salvation.

We quickly drafted a logo, made a short presentation and called the team into the boardroom. The new brand was revealed!

Oops.

It’s funny – you can think of a million things that are wrong with a brand, but what we found wrong with Flipbound had nothing to do with how it sounded or what it stood for, but rather how it was written. It looked too similar to “Flipboard” on paper. Once we realized that, we ditched it. Sure we foolishly already revealed it to the team, but c’est la vie – we gotta get this right.

It took us at least another 2-3 weeks to come up with Uberflip. This time, it really had everything. We’ve known all along that wherever this business takes us, more than likely our core will remain the same – an incredible solution for flipping through content. Hence “uber” and “flip”. And the .com and twitter handle were both available. Crazy.

When you’re deep in this process, it feels like forever, and in the same ways it is, because you can’t move forward until you’ve got it. Choosing a name that made sense to our existing business was extremely difficult, emotionally draining and frustrating, but in the end we knew we got it right and we’ve never looked back.

The next few months were spent on designing the logo (no easy process in itself), the personas of who Uberflip was for, the website, the ads and so on. All from scratch. It was essentially a new business but we had the luxury of rolling out to a few hundred existing customers.

On March 8th 2012, at 3am on a Wednesday morning, Uberflip was revealed to the world with a clear message that people actually understood, a new starting price point, an online signup form, and a 60 day free trial. Yeah, 60 days… why? Well, we wanted companies to really understand the value of our solution and felt that a 30 day cycle, regardless of what day of the month they started that cycle, would be covered within 60 days. Also (and more the real reason), we didn’t quite finish our billing integration, and figured a 60 day cushion would allow us to work out the kinks before anyone tried to pay online. Crazy as it may sound, in retrospect I would do the same all over – you’ve got to get your product out as quickly as possible, and although we had an existing product, understanding how a new brand, a free trial and lower price point would affect our business was critical – we had to get it out there ASAP.

Once our billing integration was complete and we had a couple 60 day cycles under our belt, we realized that the free trial was too long, both for our users and for us; too long a cycle makes it extremely difficult to learn what you’re doing wrong (and sometimes right). We skipped past the “30 days” decision and went straight to 14 days instead. We saw an instant improvement in our paid conversion rates just with that change, but we were also able to start A/B testing and making small adjustments more frequently and effectively.

You could argue that we could have just launched this new go-to-market strategy with our old brand, but in reality we never would have because it would have meant more investment into a brand we knew was wrong. Rebranding gave us the proper motivation to push forward with everything we wanted to accomplish.

I know several startups that have thought about rebranding – at least 2 come to mind even in our neighbourhood. It’s a major undertaking. For us it was close to 2 years of thinking about it, 6 weeks of choosing a name, and 4 months to implement. That’s a huge time and financial commitment, but it paid off in spades.

It’s had a massive impact on our team culture – we are all proud of this brand. So much so that we finally made some attractive swag, that the whole team wears to work pretty much daily.

Equally important, it’s had a tremendous impact on our business. We quadrupled our customer base this past year – with a new brand no one had ever heard of. How’s that for an 80/20 split?

If you’re in a similar boat, stuck with a brand you know is wrong for what your business has evolved into, don’t hesitate – start the process of rebranding. It’ll be worth it.

Uberflip, the brand, has given our company more energy this past year than ever before. The vibe it’s produced is infectious – it’s strengthened our business, our team and our ability to innovate.

Got a similar story? I’d love to hear about it – leave a comment below and let’s connect.

About the Author

Yoav Schwartz

Yoav is the co-founder and CEO at Uberflip and is responsible for driving the mission, vision, and goals of the company. He spends considerable time working with his team to continuously delight and surprise Uberflip's customers.

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