Changing our brand (and why “yabeam” isn’t polite in Russian)

Changing brand to Hipalerts.comWhen we first started experimenting with location technology about 3 years ago, we went through a variety of names for the project. But when it came time to picking a domain name, as anyone in marketing knows, just for ease of entry you want to keep it to 2 syllables if possible. And you also want it to ideally be a name people can pronounce. If it can also somehow suggest in some loose way the theme of your project, that’s a bonus but not really required. After all, who knew what a google was?

Of course nearly any 2 syllable domain name of remote value is already taken these days. But after many hours of brainstorming and pounding on, we finally found a domain that was available, 2 syllables and related to what we were trying to do with project.

Given that our initial aim was to connect book content with location so that when customers were in a given area they would receive an alert like, “hey, here’s a book written about this city” etc., the notion of “beaming” the alert to the customer made a little sense. Kinda.

Then we started to imagine TV ads, like, “when you need local content, whatta you do? Yabeam!” Wow, that seemed perfect!

But then the problems started. When we started going out to trade shows and the like, we found people repeatedly mispronounced yabeam. Many would say, “YAY-beam” (like SAY). Others would pronounce it “YAAAbeam” (like Yahoo). Almost no one got it right.

It was depressing.

But the clincher was when, during a standup meeting with one of our Russian developers, he started giggling about the name but wouldn’t tell us why. We pushed him on it and he finally gave it up. Turns out “yabeam” sounds like Russian for a particularly derogatory reference to females. Great.

And that decided it. We had to change the brand. But that’s easier said then done. We have email addresses and contracts and all sorts of other places where is being used. And colors and logos and all sorts of other branding-related images we’d already launched into the world.

But now its done, and we’re really happy with Hipalerts, another 2 syllable domain but easier to pronounce. So far no one has suggested it means anything offensive in any other language, and it relates well to our mission, which is to help destination marketers deliver cool and useful content & deals to visitors.


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