From Helpchat to Tapzo: Lots in a name

As I had mentioned in a previous post, Moving away from chat: Hard-earned lessons, we moved away from a chat interface almost 10 months ago in January 2016. Since then we’ve grown 13X on daily transactions (today we do 55,000 per day). However, our app didn’t have any chat but it still continued to be called Helpchat. This was confusing for our users – in fact several customers pointed the mismatch out to us. We took the decision to rebrand to Tapzo – based on the idea of ‘many apps in one tap’.

Here are the things we learned from this journey:

– Don’t change the name if you can avoid it. The condition for this, of course, is that your current name should work for your product or business evolution. E.g. Snapdeal decided to stick to its name despite evolving to an e-commerce model. We wish we could have kept our name but it would have been misleading at multiple levels. We needed to focus on the experience of our future 100M users.

– Keep the name as easy and as short as possible. Check for all cultural connotations in similar –sounding words. In India, given our many languages and accents, phonetic quality is super-important. The name should roll easily off tongues across the country.

– It helps to read about how others handled their rebranding – the beauty of the branding exercise is that after some time, people hardly remember the old names. E.g. how many people remember that Axis Bank was once called UTI Bank (the board even contacted people in the USA to check whether negative World War II connotations were okay!). Vodafone changed its name 4 times – Hutchison Max to Orange to Hutch to Vodafone. Zomato was once called FoodieBay. The triggers were different in each case but the overall re-branding challenges were the same and there are several things you can learn from them.

– Whenever possible retain the brand equity that you’ve built. For example, Snapchat dropped “chat” and kept “Snap”. The reverse it also true – Fevicol named its instant adhesive as Fevikwik, thereby lending credibility of the master brand immediately. We thought of doing the same but the word “Help” doesn’t communicate what we do (and is impossible to register legally).

– Think carefully about the strategy for your other brand assets. If you want to signal something completely new, then overhaul your logo, colours, communication, etc. For us, everything is the same, except for the name. That’s why we kept our visual identity consistent with our old one. We felt this would give our existing users more comfort and familiarity.

– Finding a name that your employees and customers will like on day 1 is near impossible. Make them part of the process to whatever extent possible (We did an employee poll and communicated the process regularly). We also ran a user contest and got over 900 name suggestions.

– Name availability criteria have become stricter (domain name, Play Store, App Store, trademark, unique etc.). Domain name is nearly impossible to get, so people put suffixes and prefixes e.g. or Trademark is very tricky too. Though usually founders don’t care too much about trademarks, we were a bit conservative on this front. This is our second rename and we didn’t want to have any sort of trademark challenge later. This struck off a LOT of options since phonetic similarity also becomes an issue and lawyers even try spelling variations of your name.

Okay, let’s say you overcame the long list above and actually found a name. Most people will react with “Interesting” or an expression that says that ‘the name is ok but surely you could have done better?’. I’m guessing one should not worry overly about it. All brands are only worth the brand equity that is built into them which finally comes from the product and brand experience.

Helpchat is now Tapzo

Helpchat is now Tapzo

Here is some learning on how to proceed once you’ve found a name:

  • The best piece of advice I received was: “Don’t give a fuck about anyone other than your customers. The Twitter echo chamber isn’t your customer”.
  • Transition for your customers
    • The main goal of a rebrand should be that your customers’ transition is smooth. We created a checklist of different forms of communications (mails, SMS, notifications etc.) and timing. If we screwup on this even with extensive checklists, I’ll share more details here. 🙂
    • We also had to ensure that messaging is correct – customers’ know that the product is exactly the same and that their Helpchat cash etc. will work as it is
    • Create a proper customer support response to the rename
    • Inform all other stakeholders
  • Emails to inform everyone else who matters (investors, employees, partners) etc. about the change – they should never find it from someone else.
  • Do a press release so that the media also gets to know what you want to communicate.

Final thought: Choose a name that allows for business growth. That’s where we went wrong with Helpchat (though we didn’t know it at that time). You need to balance this with the need to quickly get your message across – especially if you are creating a category like we are (names like Facebook, TrueCaller, PayTM etc. deliver their product message quite well).

We liked Tapzo because the word “tap” has many meanings. We help our users tap into the power of apps, we provide apps on a tap of a finger, we offer a never-ending flow of apps from a tap (like beer or water). The fact that tapping on a mobile screen is the current form factor and can be used to land our message very quickly is a great bonus (one tap and you get many apps). But if this form factor changes, we won’t have to change our name.

All in all, it has been a tiring but rewarding experience to go through this rebranding exercise. Do share your learning around this topic, if any.


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