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Finding HoneyGuide: 7 things we learnt while naming our startup

Well first let’s start with a video:

That just about sums up why we named our company HoneyGuide Apps. We make trekking apps and just like the honeyguide bird showing people the honey, we as a trekking app go beyond the boring logistical information of guidebooks to give travelers and trekkers unique insights about local culture and nature. In short our goal at HoneyGuide is to turn travelers into instant experts.But the journey from what had almost become “Caveman Guides” to HoneyGuide is filled with a lots of detours wild goose chase even.
So here are some insights we have gathered along the way in  finding the name HoneyGuide. However for anyone trying to take the list as an advice, lets us put it out there that we haven’t ‘made it’ yet for our advice to carry any weight and either way as Baz Luhrmann points out, “advice is a form of nostalgia and dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than its worth” .

1. What’s the story??
We always thought there was something fundamentally wrong with companies that called themselves Himalaya somethings, International Business Machines and Dunkin Donuts. We couldn’t pin it until we realized that there was a flip side to these companies; other companies that called themselves Kamzang, Apple and Starbucks . These guys haven’t done anything special other than showing some heart and naming themselves after small things or obscure references with good stories. And the first group hasn’t done anything wrong other than using their cerebral powers to summon big and important sounding names.
We love details and small things. We also feel that stories like, “Oh because we make computing machines for international businesses, or we run treks in the Himalayas or Oh because we sell Donuts that are dunkin’ good” are lame.

2.  Silly syllables
We didn’t know it then, but turns out 3 is the upper limit for number of syllables a brand name could have and 2 is the ideal size. Here are some examples:
1 syllable: Bing, Ask, Xing, Dell, Skype, Yelp, Ford
2 syllables: Google, Tesla, Yahoo, Ebay, Paypal, Facebook, Quora, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, DropBox, Flickr, Apple, CNet, Reddit, Netflix, Techcrunch, Samsung
3 syllables: Amazon, LiveJournal, GoDaddy, Mozilla, Mashable, Toyota, Microsoft, Instagram
4 and more syllables: Hewlett Packard, Coca-Cola, Federal Express, Wikipedia, Chevrolet, BMW.
Hence most successful brands have 2 syllables while those that have more than three are never referred to by their original name. They are always HP, Coke, Fedex, Wiki, Chevy and Beemer, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you have the massive marketing dollars to make it work.

3. We loved acronyms until…..
We actually tried to use the hashtag #hgapps in our social media and even referred to the company as HG in our internal communication. But then Al Ries and Jack Trout’s book Positioning made clear what had been going on for some time; nobody referred to us as HG, ever. The rule is if any brand is within 3 syllables, you will never have to worry about getting an acronym.
But was getting an acronym something we should be ‘worried’ about? We didn’t understand. In a world with a lot of big companies with acronyms, it is hard not to fall for it and want one too. GM, CBS, GE, AT&T, ABC, IBM, P&G, AIG, KPMG, UPS, DHL, CHS, HCA, EMC and many others litter the Fortune 500 list. But then we realized you can’t love or hug an acronym and an acronym cannot really mean anything outside of a circle who are already acquainted with the brand. While they might be paragons of success, they are also the face of the faceless, nameless and heartless corporation.

4. Who is our customer??
Sure HoneyGuide is a bit of an obscure reference. So what? It has a great story. What it also has is the potential to reach out directly to our early adopters: wildlife and nature enthusiasts. Our first line of product, trekking apps for Nepal provides detailed information on animals and plants along the trail. Also, since one of our co-founder is a bird photographer, there might have been a slight positive bias towards the avian variety. Hence, we know that birders and bird photographers will be the earliest of our early adopters, and they will get the HoneyGuide reference immediately. For the rest, we will make sure that they get it.

5.  Is it good for search and social?
Another problem with choosing a generic ‘meaningful’ name is that it is hard to battle it out in the search engine arena. Even when you win through sheer persistence and top dollars, the connection might be weak at best leading to heavy traffic acquisition but very low retention rate. Since there are few HoneyGuide references in the web (only 272K google search results compared to 13.9M even for caveman!!) it has been easier to rise through the ranks. Also getting the domain name honeyguideapps.com was a simple, cheap and easy affair.
A word about domain name is that a lot of people seem to fret over getting that perfect name and sometimes spend a good amount of money for it. Sure we did eye honeyguide.com with some longing and it was on sale for a few thousand bucks but we figured it wasn’t worth it. Apparently neither did facebook which started with thefacebook.com and dropbox that started with getdropbox.com. Don’t worry about domain names too much.
Also it was relatively easy to get vanity urls across the entire social media channels which is kind of nice too.

(Bonus: since we plan to take on that rotting edifice called the guidebook industry, having ‘guide’ in our brand is kind of great too.)

6 . The sky’s the limit!!!
We don’t know how big we are going to be and neither do you. We might be eating dirt a year from now or perhaps we will be redefining the guidebook industry through our trekking apps. We simply don’t know. But there is little point in limiting the scope of your company through brands that have a geographical and portfolio baggage. An airlines called Eastern in the US will never get dominance in California and any company with a country name in its brand will have a hard time going global. A recent case in point was trekbooking.com which quietly changed its name to bookmundi, a name which is more in line with the company’s vision. Think about how big you want to be, what you want to do and then choose a name accordingly. Rebranding is mighty expensive and even after all the money you will be spending on rebranding, it might not work for the simple reason that people don’t like to change their opinions. As the adage goes, “Mind-changing is the road to advertising disaster.”

7. Does it have a ring??
But as we mentioned earlier, all that came later, much later. We chose HoneyGuide at first simply because it has that ring to it. Plain and simple!! Here are the other prospective names. We are a bit embarrassed sharing this, but hey for whatever it is worth, have fun!!

——————-
Here is what the thought process actually looked like:

Icarus- You know the guy who flew to the sun

Pilgrims- Has that old world charm around it but dont think it just cuts it

Pathfinder- Yadayada

Vanguard- Yadayada

Serendipity- Yadayada

Magic Carpet- Yadayada

Hitchhiker's Guide to- WHY NOT??

Ditchhiker's Guide to- Haha!!!

Pitch Hiker's Guide to- You thought Ditchhikers was all i had??

Niche Hiker's Guide to- Wait what??

Hiker's- Well….

Wayfarer's guide to- Rather generic but sums up the thing rather nicely, connotation with the hipster shades might put some people off

Gypsy- Well whatever i couldn’t think of something better.

Nomad- Ditto

Land Ho!- Doors song. Cry of sailors when they see land. Has that adventurous and yet good feeling associated with it. I love it.

Polaris- You know the pole star. Rather overused though.

Survivor's- Why not??

Cirrus- Cloud that signals clear weather. I doubt many people will get the connotation at first encounter though.

Honeyguide in- Well the bird that points people to honey and then eats the wax.

Caveman's- Well Troglodyte, Cavewoman, Catwoman, however you twist it it still has that boorish connotation.

Pasa- You know the newari word for friend.

SunStone for Mustang- I love this one. Has that ring you know sun fire life and all and stone means hardness and all. And also read this.

Sherpa- Another really good one. Perfect for what we are doing, Evokes trust and knowledge of the himalayan all in one word. In terms of match you will find it hard to find a better name. Also Sherpa Books seems to be free.

Clairvoyant- Yeaaaa!!!!!!!

Logos-

——————–

Also for completeness sake let us admit to a negative too. The name HoneyGuide has been consistently been referred to as Honey Guide which kind of gets on our nerves, but things are getting better as we can see from search queries. However, of the following coverage we have gotten so far in the media, most use Honey Guide with spaces. (Only Nepali Times got it right.) 🙁

http://nepalitimes.com/article/Nepali-Times-Buzz/honeyguide-apps-review,2644
http://www.myrepublica.com/technology/story/33483/honey-guide-apps-your-guide-to-a-convenient-trekking-experience-in-nepal.html
https://thehimalayantimes.com/mobile-apps/honey-guide-travel-app/

Amazingly all off of the following tech bloggers got it correct.

http://blogortech.com/nepali-android-apps-review/explore-the-stunning-himalayas-with-honeyguide-apps-app-review/
http://vertexreport.com/2015/10/honeyguide-apps-new-trekking-apps-launched/
http://nepalit.com/2015/10/03/launch-of-tourism-startup-honeyguide-apps/

 

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