2021 was definitely a tough year for global brands, and the pandemic is not the only reason. More than ever, our decisions to buy something or not are not just based on the qualities or price of a product but also on what a brand stands for. We demand from companies to be genuine, we have access to information and can easily spread information too. Climate change, conscious and demanding consumers, digital transformation, a fight for attention that’s more divided than ever, or the need to adapt to stay relevant – all those factors played a role in many brands’ decision to rebrand in 2021.
In 2020, we compiled a detailed report on Naming and Branding over the last decade. Let’s have a look at some of the rebrands that captured attention globally this year, along with the main reasons that led to them.
1. The Facebook Company Becomes Meta
The parent company of the social media giant Facebook changed its name to Meta. According to the brand, the name represents the company’s move further into the metaverse. It was obvious the move also aimed to detach the brand Facebook and the numerous scandals it was the subject of in recent years from the other brands owned by the company. « Meta » translates to “beyond” in Greek, and the company choose a matching infinity loop logo that was shortly applied to all apps owned by the company, including Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger.
Why did The Facebook Company Rebrand to Meta?
To improve the brand reputation
To match a bigger vision as they have outgrown their original mission
2. Clubhouse Rebrands to Shortcut
Before you panic, no, you didn’t miss the news, The Clubhouse you know is still Clubhouse. There is, however, an interesting story about a Clubhouse before the app that took the world by storm. Clubhouse launched in 2014 on Clubhouse.io and went on a mission to challenge global software giants like Atlassian and the likes. In January 2020, the startup raised US$ 25 million. In 2020, the voice app Clubhouse launched on JoinClubhouse.com. Its popularity exploded over the pandemic, and it quickly became clear to the founders of Clubhouse.io that they need to do something. There can only be one Clubhouse, and any other brands using the same name would live in its shadow.
To avoid customer confusion, traffic and email leaks
3. NextCar Changes Name to Autonomy
NextCar’s CEO, Scott Painter, is not one to compromise with his brand’s names, so this rebrand did to come as a surprise. We had an interview with him about Fair.com last year. NextCar acquired the Autonomy brand in November 2021, along with the primary global domain name Autonomy.com. The name used to belong to an HP company, later acquired by Micro Focus.
Our belief is that Autonomy, which symbolizes freedom, is more relevant now when we’re all coming out of the pandemic and want to have a little bit of access to life as usual. Mobility is one of the most important ways to feel free, and so Autonomy is a great brand.
Chief Executive Scott Painter
You can add to that the fact that the autonomous vehicles market demand is estimated to expand at a CAGR of 63.1% from 2021 to 2030, making the name a category-defining brand with wide opportunities for expansion in the future.
Why did NextCar Rebrand to Autonomy?
To stay relevant with the times
To open wider markets to the company
4. VidAngel is Now Simply Angel
Neal and Jeff Harmon, brothers and co-founders of VidAngel, discovered that the brand name VidAngel failed a simple test: If you told it to someone, could they remember it well enough to tell someone else or find it on Google? VidAngel passed about 58% of the time, which wasn’t enough.
We’ve seen over time, that about 50% of our traffic comes through word-of-mouth. People hear about it, but then they end up having to type the domain.
Neil Harmon, co-founder Angel.com
One name did much better: Angel. A full 95% of people could remember, share and find that name. It also fits perfectly with the company’s crowdfunding ethos and its focus on uplifting content. So VidAngel set on a mission to become Angel. They needed a new domain name. After performing some tests to see what names would do better, they concluded the cost of getting their audience to remember a URL like an.gl or angel.studio is much greater than the $2M price tag on Angel.com at the time. So they invested in the domain, and the rest is history.
Why did VidAngel Rebrand to Angel?
To make their marketing more cost-effective
To improve customer retention and word-of-mouth
To match the company ethos
5. WiseTransfer Does More than Transfers
Initially launched in 2011 with just money transfer services, TransferWise changed its name to simply Wise in February 2021. On March 2nd, Wise explained that it wants to reflect the broader change of the company beyond its original roots as a money transfer company. They have secured the domain name Wise.com
Today, our name catches up with who we’re already building for: a community of people and businesses with multi-currency lives. That community now even includes the banks themselves.
Outgrowing a brand name is very common when companies launch with a specific service or product and later on expand their offering. On 7 July 2021, Wise went public by a direct listing on the London Stock Exchange and was valued at $11 billion.
Why did WiseTransfer Rebrand to Wise?
To open the brand to a wider range of services
6. Vista Print Goes Beyond Print
Vistaprint, an online print giant with over $2.5 billion in annual sales, acquired online graphic design editor Crello and its parent company, stock photo repository Despositphotos — for a total price of $85 million. Along with the acquisitions, Vistaprint rebranded as just “Vista” and announced it will be launching a brand new service powered by Crello known as VistaCreate.
For more than 20 years we have helped small businesses look and feel credible, and as their needs have changed, we have evolved with them.
Robert Keane, founder and chief executive of Vista
In November 2007, the Vista team acquired the EBM (Exact Brand Match) domain Vista.com from Innuity, a Software-as-a-Service company that was known as Vista until 2005. Vista also got the trademark for VISTA. The platform already has millions of registered users across more than 150 countries who create well over a million projects each month.
Why did Vista Print Rebrand to Vista?
To remove limitations imposed by the old brand name
To keep the brand relevant to an ever-evolving audience
7. Blockfolio Becomes FTX
In July 2021, West Realm Shires Services Inc., FTX Trading Limited, and Blockfolio Inc., the companies behind FTX.US, FTX.COM and FTX: Blockfolio, respectively, announced that the FTX: Blockfolio mobile app has rebranded as FTX (the “FTX mobile app” or the “FTX app”). The company owns both domains, FTX.us and FTX.com and is processing $10.7 billion in trades a day.
Rebranding Blockfolio shows our commitment to mobile trading, and is just another step in growing our brand on a global scale and will allow us to bring new features to market and better the user experience.
FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried
Why did Blockfolio Rebrand to FTX?
To unify the brand
To improve user experience
To match the company’s growth
8. Social Survey Becomes Experience
The switchover from SocialSurvey.com to Experience.com happened in February 2021. This is the second domain upgrade that SocialSurvey has performed. The company upgraded its domain from SocialSurvey.me to SocialSurvey.com and now has completely rebranded to Experience.com.
The team behind SocialSurvey started to consider rebranding after realizing that the company’s product offerings and roadmap for the future started to outgrow its original name.
This thing is not SocialSurvey anymore. This is the best platform, we deserve the best name.
To match the company’s development and new global vision
9. Angie’s List is No Longer Just a List
Angie’s List launched in 1995 as a resource for residents in Columbus, Ohio, seeking local contractors. In an attempt to highlight the other housing-related businesses and services under their umbrella, including HomeAdvisor and Handy, the online marketplace announced its rebranding as Angi.
The Angie’s List brand is known and loved … People understand what it stands for and trust it. The challenge is that we’re not just a list anymore. Customers were confined and constrained by the literal nature of the name.
The company acquired the Exact Brand Match domain name Angi.com, as well as Angie.com as well. Shares of Angi are up nearly 25% this year, a clear indication that a strong brand plays an important role in the business’ success.
Why did Angie’s List Rebrand to Angi?
To remove constrains imposed by the old brand name
10. ProfitBoss Becomes Owner.com
Co-founded in 2018 by Adam Guild, who wanted to help restaurants build in-store traffic, PlacePull started taking off before the COVID-19 pandemic came to the U.S. When COVID-19 hit, the app’s goal became kind of obsolete, and the company’s annual contracts were not paying.
Many companies have responded to COVID-19 with innovative pivots that push them into new markets, and PlacePull was one of them. Although reportedly facing bankruptcy (to add to his bad luck, Adam was rejected from Y Combinator and other accelerator programs), the founders have decided to make some positive changes. PlacePull changed its name to ProfitBoss and began to provide restaurants with a free online ordering system and customized advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2021, ProfitBoss rebranded to Owner.com after acquiring the domain name Owner.com from Digimedia. As Adam Guild, the co-founder and CEO, stated, they picked the name because restaurant owners take great pride in finally being owners after over 80% worked their way up from being employees in others’ restaurants.