NonProfit CMS joins Gray Digital Group

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How we decided on OpenWater – The Company Rebrand Process

Posted on 26th April 2014 by Tim Spell
By Admin |April 26th, 2014

If you look at the products tab on our website here you’ll notice that we have Awards and Conference software here.  One of the problems that we faced as a company is how to get the message across to nonprofits and associations that we’re more than just a web design company.  We have enterprise level software that hundreds of organizations around the country use.  Just having tabs on the website linking to external websites was just not cutting it.  

Was our company name nonprofitCMS?  AwardsCMS?  ConferenceCMS?  MemberCMS?  Other people called us: CMS, NPC, NPCMS.  It almost became comical when a new name was given to us by a current or prospective client.

It was clear that a change had to be made.  The first step: a new name.

Our team here brainstormed internally for hours on end.  We hired a marketing company to help.  Our friends and family offered advice.  We had a list of over 300 names to pick from at one point.  Anything was on the table.  Our only requirement is that it had to be somewhat generic so that if we did decide to come out with a future product down the road that was a little different, we wouldn’t have to come up with yet another website and brand for it.  

You wouldn’t believe how stressful this process was for me and the core team here at the company.  Sleepless nights (at least for me), tense conversations and anxiety were just a few of the things that happened.

During the middle of all this I started thinking about my life and some of my passions outside of work; the main one being competitive rowing (crew).  In rowing, there’s a concept called “open water.”

Open water used to describe the distance between boats (if one boat is really far ahead of another).  The distance from the winning boat’s back (stern) and trailing boat’s front (bow) (where there is no overlap) is called OpenWater.  If a team wins by 1 foot of open water…it’s considered to be a solid win.  If a team wins by 60 feet of open water it’s considered to be a blow out victory.  Bottom line, you train year round so you can win by open water.

So, I threw it out there as a potential company name  I figured we could always come up with something better.  

I watched the move “Jobs” starred by Ashton Kutcher the other week and it showed a scene where the two founders talked about a company name with Steve Jobs offering up “Apple” as a potential idea.  This clip below is VERY REALISTIC of how most company names likely happen and is pretty much the same conversation that I had with my business partner the day OpenWater was thrown out there.

Well, we never came up with something better and we all started to unofficially refer to it as OpenWater so it stuck.  Everything started rolling from there. New website, new branding, new energy in the company and most importantly a defined mission and vision for the company.

You can check it out here:

What does this mean for nonprofitCMS? It means that we’re now very selective about the projects we take on. We love web design and we love working with cool clients but we’re not going to take on 30 projects per year anymore…more like 2 or 3 really high quality, top notch websites. We do have some quality partners we can refer you to, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you’re looking for a recommendation.

What do you think about the new brand?

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