Someone over on news.ycombinator.com posted a story asking startups how they came up with their name. I posted a comment there for MightyBrand, but I thought I would cross-post it here, in case someone else finds it interesting.
The story of our name is a tale of the sunk cost fallacy. Back in 2006, we started working on a social network aggregator called BlueSwarm that was very similar to FriendFeed or SocialThing. We originally called it BlueSwarm.org, because the .com was taken, but just before we launched in Summer 2007, we bought the .com, paying way more than we should have. Stupid. Anyway, the launch went OK, we got some press, but after awhile, we realized that the space was crowding fast and it was a difficult idea to monetize, so we put it on the back-burner.
Meanwhile, we launched a little side blog called MightyBrand that covered personal branding through social media. We posted there occasionally, but not much. It was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas you do on a weekend that gradually lose steam over the next few months.
In early 2008, we decided to take the codebase from BlueSwarm and re-purpose it to be a social media monitoring platform for brands. This is where the sunk cost fallacy comes in: because we paid so much for the BlueSwarm.com domain, we really wanted to use it, so our social media monitoring platform for brands and companies was also called BlueSwarm. We went through these mental marketing gymnastics trying to relate it to what we were doing: “Who’s swarming around your brand?” We launched an alpha prototype under BlueSwarm and applied to YC as BlueSwarm.
Finally, about six months later, we realized that it probably wasn’t the best fit, and it suddenly dawned on us that MightyBrand was actually a pretty good name for what we were attempting to do, and would grow with us as we expand beyond monitoring. So when we launched our public beta in Jan, we completely re-branded as MightyBrand.
The lesson? Don’t hold on too tightly to a domain, name, idea, or project just because you’ve spent a lot of time and money on it. If the future for it doesn’t look good and you have something better on the table, go for it.
PS – If anyone wants to buy BlueSwarm.com, .net, and .org, email us