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Branding and Rebranding a Startup

By: Nick Gottlieb (Co-Founder & CEO of Mobozi)

Most startups begin with a clear idea of what they think their product and company mission will be, and often use that idea to name their company.  When my co-founder and I started our company last year, we thought we would build a mobile video contest platform and our mission would be to make it easy for anyone to enter and win directly from their phone.  We decided on the name 'PrizeReel' and chose a spiffy logo with a film reel and ribbon.

Five months later we had gone through two significant pivots and were now building a platform for handling photos and videos on the mobile web, and the name PrizeReel was significantly less clever.  We had been considering rebranding for about a month when we were admitted into the Mozilla WebFWD Accelerator.  It was at that point, in mid-February, that we finally decided to pull the trigger come up with a new name and brand.

We didn't have a really clear idea of what kind of name we wanted, but we did know we wanted something with no inherent meaning (we were still unsure if we had made our final pivot or not) and an available .com domain name.  We spent a lot of time searching available domains ( is an amazing tool for this) and a lot surveying with friends, family, and colleagues.  We really liked several names with the prefix 'mob' as we at least knew we would be doing something in mobile, and wanted something that was relatively easy to spell.  After 4 days of searching and deliberation we eventually settled on 'Mobozi'.

Once we decided on the name we chose a color scheme, designed a logo (again with a lot of feedback from friends, colleagues, and customers), and went through the annoying process of changing all of our social network accounts.

Branding is hard; there are large agencies that make tons of money doing nothing but helping huge corporations on their branding.  For a small early stage startup, branding is REALLY hard. On the one hand your company name, logo, and possibly a tagline are the first impression of your company, but on the other hand you are still working out the finer points of what exactly your product is, who your customers are, and what your company's mission is.  My advice on branding for early stage startups is to keep your brand flexible and simple.  Until you have really figured out your product/market fit and have a customer base don't be afraid to experiment.  Ask people their opinion, observe their initial reaction to different tag lines and logos.  You will certainly iterate and improve your product hundreds of times in early stages of your company, don't be afraid to do the same thing with your brand.

Nick is a developer, designer, and is passionate about products.  When not working on Mobozi, he spends his time surfing, playing basketball, and traveling the world.  Before founding Mobozi, he worked for a consulting firm in Japan and an interactive agency in Dallas.