Branding Stride: The Name
When you’re creating a company, you’re going to screw up a lot of things—some of them badly. The one thing you make sure you get right (after choosing your co-founders) is the name.
Think about it. The average lifespan of a website design is in the ballpark of three years, and usually less for startups. The lifespan for a logo is, at best, two decades. Even iconic logos like Ford, ATT, and General Electric evolve over time. But Ford has been named Ford since 1903.
Changing your name isn’t impossible, but it is hard, and it can create a lot of confusion.
This seems like an appropriate place to interject a disclaimer: I’m not what most people would consider a branding expert. I’m not going to give you tips on how to name your company; I’m only going to talk about why we named ours what we did. (If you want to know what to name yours, consider reading 17 Mutable Suggestions for Naming a Startup by the inestimable Dharmesh Shah.)
So. Back to Stride. It wasn’t always called that; the working title of the project for much of its early life was Aqueduct, a sort of cheeky allusion to the concept of a sales pipeline. There are worse names out there, but it was problematic. It’s a little weird. It’s tricky to spell. And we knew we wanted the product to be inviting, and vague puns about Roman engineering might not be the best way to achieve that. More than anything, we knew we could find something better.
We discussed at least fifty possibilities over a few weeks, and nothing was right.
Dabble? Sounds amateurish. Huntr? Too aggressive. MinimalTrack? Too long, too literal. Modest? Doesn’t communicate anything about our product.
By the end of the process, Andrew was about ready to kill me. I don’t blame him. Every day he came up with a handful of new ideas, and every day I found a reason why none of them would work.
Finally, we really took some time and refined and codified what we wanted from the name and the brand: friendly, positive, purposeful. It was a reaction to our personal experiences with sale tracking, which had been frustrating exercises that felt like busy work. (We need to talk about your TPS reports…)
With those three words in mind, we had clear criteria to evaluate any potential name. The very next day, Andrew texted me just one potential name: Stride.
I loved it then, and I love it now. It feels so natural for the product build, I can’t imagine it being called anything else.
The one lesson I keep learning again and again (and always the hard way) is that strategy is key in design, and particularly in branding. Until everyone in the room agrees on where you’re going, no one is going to agree when you get there.