What’s In A Name? Why Kimp.io Is Officially Becoming Kimp.com

2 years ago we were getting ready to pivot a design agency into a subscription-based graphic design business. We’d had a great run with the agency model but it just wasn’t sustainable for us anymore. And we’d learned this the hard way. When the handful of clients we were most dependent on started scaling back on their marketing because of changes in their industries.

That in-between-place you’re in when you’re trying to keep some things from coming apart, long enough to have others take off? It’s about as exciting and terrifying as things can get for an entrepreneur. 

“An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.”

– Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder, LinkedIn

We were starting to flesh out our ideas for workflows for our new operations. We had some ideas for our branding. And we were nearly ready to launch and test. At the same time, we had to make sure that our existing clients still received their services through our agency model. The revenue from our agency was fueling the launch of our subscription service. And we couldn’t afford to ease up on either end of things. 

In the midst of all this, one afternoon we found ourselves needing to make an important decision. What would we call our new company? We wanted it to be short, memorable, easy to pronounce, and something that we could build a brand around. It had to be versatile enough to grow with us, and not so literal that it could limit us. And of course, we needed a name with an available domain. 

Now, this is the part of the story where we’d love to tell you our secret to coming up with an unforgettable brand name is 3 easy steps. Sounds like the headline for a great lead magnet campaign, doesn’t it? 😉 But when it comes to branding there’s no such thing as a silver bullet. Sure you can follow certain steps and have some criteria as we’ve mentioned above. But apart from that, you’ve really got to go through the process of research, trial, and error, rinse and repeat. As many times as necessary.

After a few days of going round and round, we were coming up with short but strange names. Maybe it was all the caffeine. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. But we were trying to convince ourselves that maybe an “X” or a “Q” at the beginning or end of a name wouldn’t really make it so hard to pronounce. We wound our way through the alphabet and all the possible domain names available until we finally landed on Kimp. 

It was easy to say and spell. And it would work well for a brand mascot that was fun and friendly. Now as for the domain, Kimp.com wasn’t available. But we were able to snag Kimp.io. And with “.io” domains being associated with all things tech, gaming and start-ups, it was one of the ways we could start building our brand. A way for us to let our potential customers know the types of things we had to offer. 

With our name chosen, our next step to launching our brand was coming up with a mascot. While we had certain criteria in mind for our company name, when it came to the mascot we weren’t quite so sure. Since we were going with the name Kimp, we decided a chimp would be our mascot as a play on the word. But what was this chimp going to look like?

We wanted Kimp to be friendly, but memorable. Cute, but maybe an ugly-cute, kind of like one of Pixar’s Monters, Inc. characters. He needed to have bright, wide-open eyes. And a big huge smile. He needed to be strong and energetic looking. Curious, with a glint in his eye – just like a brilliant artist or mad scientist. 

Needless to say, with so many different examples and ideas of what we wanted to incorporate we confused our poor illustrator and drove him crazy. A word to the wise – there are 2 points in time where it’s most important to come up with as many ideas as possible. The first is before your brief is finalized so that you can have options to narrow down and run with. And the second is when you’re reviewing what your designer or illustrator has created and are thinking about how to approach a second or subsequent draft. 

If you’re hovering and tweaking before your designer has even had a chance to really flesh out your ideas and make suggestions, you might just end up with a little something like one of these:

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Fortunately, one of our team members came into the process with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. And asked us if we’d all lost our minds when he saw the first drafts. It doesn’t hurt to have a team that’s not afraid to be blunt. 😜 After a few more tweaks, our first version of Kimp was ready to launch. 

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Fast forward to 2020, and Kimp’s gone through a few more changes. As our company grew and we got to serve more clients, we also gained more insights into their preferences and needs. 

While we initially wanted our brand mascot to just be approachable and friendly, we realized there was another trait customers preferred in the services they wanted to work with. A sense of strength and competence. Graphic design can be a time consuming task, and getting it off your plate can mean freeing yourself up for so much more. But you don’t want to trust just anyone with that task. 

So this year we revamped Kimp and made him bolder. We are no longer a business trying to cautiously pivot. And alongside our clients, the pandemic has meant facing challenges of proportions we’d never imagined before. It was time our mascot represented the company we’d grown, and are growing, into. And the kind of brand we wanted our clients to be able to feel confident in trusting. 

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And that growth is why we’re excited to have finally been able to secure Kimp.com this past week. To be able to secure a .com domain doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all for a company’s branding. But it is a pretty big deal. Especially when you’re a B2B business. 

“Dot-com domains are probably more important for B2B, because there you need the legitimacy.”

– Paul Graham, Co-Founder, Y Combinator, startup accelerator and seed capital firm.

Dot-com domains are associated with the longest standing businesses, generating credibility and trust. Not to mention the assumptions most consumers make that a business’ TLD (top level domain) is “.com”. When you don’t have a dot-com TLD, you have to constantly remind your audience what your website is.

In our case that’s the reason our logo became Kimp.io. It was initially just “Kimp”. But we realized soon after launching that until we became more of a household name, we had to make it as clear as possible what our website was.

Today we’ve made a lot of headway in making ourselves a familiar name with clients in some regions. And we’re working on getting there in others. But as we near the end of 2020 and all the uncertainty it has brought about, there’s one thing we know for sure. We’re going to keep betting on ourselves, our clients and our future. And we’re going to keep doing everything we can to make it a reality. 

And that’s why Kimp.io is officially becoming Kimp.com. Because it’s not just why you choose your brand name that matters. It’s what you make it mean. 😃