Seva.com — a $310,000 Lesson in Humanity
As we move more into a digital world brands are often faced with naming and branding questions. For new companies it’s about choosing the right name to convey their message. For more established companies the idea of re-branding becomes a possibility. Whatever the stage, it’s important to get naming right.
A couple months ago ProsperWorks re-branded to Copper and acquired the Copper.com domain name in a private transaction. By almost all measures, this was one of the great re-brands of the year. Jon Lee, Copper’s CEO/Founder, wrote why it was important to change to a non-traditional name:
“… the fact that our software is used by marketing, sales, service, support, and even product teams… well, that meant no more “sales____” this or “pipe____.” And yes, we made a clear decision to not have “____CRM” as our name. We wanted a name that was relatable, memorable, fun, and instantly recognizable the world over.”
Re-branding moments are supposed to go like this. They are supposed to elevate the brand, heighten employee enthusiasm and show long term dedication to consumers.
However, not all re-branding stories are the same.
The story of SEVA.com is one of those other stories.
The founders of ConvertKit presumably fell in love with this name for a re-brand, so much they paid $310,000 USD for the SEVA.com domain name back in July.
On the surface, this word seems perfect for many companies. After all, who wouldn’t want a great 4 letter pronounceable word as a brand. Furthermore, by definition the word SEVA means “selfless service: work performed without any thought of reward or repayment”.
Almost a perfect name for a company whose values include Teach everything you know, Create every day, Default in generosity and more.
However, it was not meant to be.
While by definition SEVA seemed to be a great fit it was the community reaction which caused a shift in re-branding. A shift so important that the founders of Convert Kit should be recognized for what they did.
Less than 8 weeks after spending $310,000 to acquire the domain name the re-branding to SEVA was shelved and Nathan Barry, the company’s Founder and CEO, explained why it was necessary to recognize the importance of this word to various cultures and religions and not commercialize the word.
These are words any founder, any agency .. any person should read.
Not only did it take guts to incur the financial loss but also a sense of humanity (and humility) to accept what was unknown prior to the acquisition and make the decision not to change.
Words are powerful. Commercializing words is more powerful.
Most words don’t have such deep meaning as SEVA however imagine if Hanukkah.com was a tabloid, Christian.com was a vice magazine or Shalom.com was a crypto company. The very moment a word enters mainstream as a brand it can often weaken the word, lead to a loss of meaning and hurt people never meant to be hurt.
This moral sense. This type of humanity. This public display of humility.
This is what we need more of today.
In a world where money rules, decisions like this keep things sacred.
Well done Mr. Barry.
Well done indeed.