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Luminosity to Agylia – the perils of changing your product name

Luminosity to Agylia – the perils of changing your primary product’s name

The original concept behind the name of Luminosity LMS product range came from the idea of learning, shining as a light in the darkness.

Perhaps a little corny, but it’s actually something we believe in, education and training really does change lives in a way that can be profound as well as practical.

Let me give you some background first. We are a mid-sized UK based company with UK and US offices. We launched the Luminosity Learning Management System (LMS) over two years ago now and in that short time, Luminosity has already become a recognised success story as a big, enterprise level learning management system. It’s what we term a next generation LMS with ultra-modern technology and functionality and benefits such as speed of implementation, massive scalability and flexibility, comprehensive mobile delivery and the latest Experience API tracking.

Why change it?

So what’s the issue with the name Luminosity?  Well, for a while we’ve been aware that there is a B2C ‘brain training’ game product called ‘Lumosity’ in the US. It’s well known in the US and because it is a learning product, this was a recipe for confusion with everything from product support to payment queries coming to us, and who knows how many Luminosity LMS corporate sales enquiries going to them. What made it worse was that they unfortunately also own the luminosity.com domain, and this proved key in the whole area of directing traffic to the right websites. So should we continue to fight it King Canute style, or change tack? After much soul searching we reluctantly decided that it was better to go through the short term pain to achieve longer term clarity and change it to something new and fresh.

Having made the decision, I see that ‘Lumosity’ in the US has, in January ’16, been hit hard with US courts finding their product claims misleading and levying significant fines on them. This merely reinforces our decision to change and with lots of new product innovation from our team here ready for release, makes a name change quite timely.

How to approach it?

We thought about appointing an external agency to come up with the name. It was an important step for us as a company and none of us are experienced in rebranding issues. But as we looked around we saw some awful examples of big marketing agencies coming up with very ordinary and sometimes really doubtful names and brand images. So, we decided it would be quicker and easier to do it ourselves.

What to call it?

That’s where the real fun began. Many of you will have been through these sort of marketing exercises before. They tend to start with questions like “if you were an animal want sort of animal would you be?” cue unwarranted personal comments from my colleagues about my resemblance to certain less attractive species, and progress to “do you consider yourself more warm and cuddly or clinical and professional?” All aimed at identifying aspects to your corporate self-image which you want to build on with the brand.

Then hours of brainstorming new names and checking on the specialist domain name websites to see which .coms are still available. This was followed by ongoing debates by the Company’s senior management, often descending into ridiculous innuendo, mindless alliteration and childish hilarity - all the while thinking that this cannot be a good use of time.

Because we want to sell our products globally, and because of the problems with not previously owning it for Luminosity, we considered it essential to own the .com domain name, and this was the first screening we applied to suggestions.

It was soon obvious that the vast majority of real words and names had already be taken.

We thought about simply adding LMS to the end of an existing word, and although that was promising we decided that it wasn’t very search friendly, and also we consider our product so much more than just an LMS, so we moved to word combinations and made up words. We even involved staff with a prize of dinner for two for the successful suggestion.

Eventually we arrived at a shortlist of about 30 names which felt interesting, memorable and relevant. It was to these that we applied the ‘Test’.

The Test

Think of repeatedly hitting a small, inoffensive little thing like a name repeatedly with a large hammer. The Test was a detailed exercise to examine the shortlist of names to check if the .com and related domains are available, if there are any competitor products which are similar, any existing trade names, and does it mean anything obscene, offensive, unintentionally humorous or stupid when translated into the main languages.

Our short list dropped to 6 and after having thought about it some more we cut it down to two very different names.

The Shortlist

We came up with Skillsdepo (or Skilldepo) and Agylia. We liked Skillsdepo because it was memorable, short and a bit funky. We thought it might go down well in the US, one of our key markets and it said what we do; a central repository for all sorts of skill related training, reference and support materials which was available to everyone. But we also liked Agylia. It is a made up word, a play on ‘agility’. It reflects the undoubted need for learning and support materials today to be created, managed and delivered to people when they are out and about doing their normal everyday jobs in a flexible and agile way. It could also be used to reference our ability to configure and implement a major customer implementation for tens of thousands of learners in a fraction of the time that the traditional big, cumbersome LMS solutions would take.

Each name was very different in style and feel, each had advantages and could support a range of interesting brand concepts and design tie-ins. That’s important because we wanted to give our in house designers and graphic artists something tangible to build on.

Deciding

Then more internal discussions and soul searching, that’s where we got stuck, we were all tired of the whole thing. So, I decided to do what I should have done much earlier – ask some customers. We didn’t run a focus group; I simply asked a selection of customers informally. The results were interesting; 

Skill(s)Depo was memorable, trendy, probably better for the US market, possibly suffered from connotations with Office Depot or Home Depot and felt as if we might be underselling ourselves.

Agylia was vaguely Latinesque and sounded more ‘upmarket’ and to do with knowledge, most people liked the connotation with agile learning, although no one was sure how to pronounce it!

And the winner is...

Agylia!

Making it happen

Then you sit back and think through all the different things to change and it’s a big hill to climb. The obvious items include printed brochures and fliers, websites and business cards. Then add in all your salesmen’s PowerPoints, case studies, videos, the exhibition stands and of course the user interface on the software product itself! We needed to buy the actual .com domains, the close-to-spelling domains, the related domains, protect the limited company names, get trade mark protection and so on.

Successful or not?

Looking back, should we have appointed an Agency to help us? It would probably have speeded up the process, but would we have arrived at a better solution? Who knows, most people seem to like Agylia, I certainly do, so I suspect that we got a good result, but of course only time will tell.

But it was a painful exercise and I would never have thought that coming up with a new name would be so very hard! What do you think? Do you like what we came up with and have you ever had to go through this exercise, any tips?

How do you pronounce it?

Think agility. Think “A-jill-e-a”. 

Tim Buff
Author: Tim Buff

This article was published by Tim Buff on 27.01.2016. Tim is CEO and Chief Learning Strategist at Agylia. Tim's role is to help people and companies design and implement digital learning strategies - this often involves pushing boundaries to develop innovative and creative solutions.

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