Case study: What's in a name?

Case study: What's in a name?
Some well-timed expert advice goes a long way for a start-up business with big plans.

Successful smartphone apps share similarities: they’re market focused, let you do things you couldn’t do before, are built for the mobile context, have a great user interface and are either entertaining or useful. And of course, a memorable name, à la Angry Birds, Shazam or Hipstamatic, doesn’t go astray either.

PHOTO: Robin Hodgkinson

The newly launched iPhone app Stay Today has all these ingredients. Aimed at those needing to quickly book a room, it offers a choice of discounted same-day hotel rooms in cities across Australasia. But the app’s original name, Get A Room, was somewhat problematic, says newly appointed managing director Matthew Mayne, so a name change was necessary.

“Get A Room was a very successful pilot, but there was a similarly named entity operating in Australia,” says Mayne. “The team needed legal advice around whether they could launch with Get A Room or if a rebrand was required.”

In April, the company approached intellectual property experts AJ Park and has been working with its trade mark and commercialisation specialists Damon Butler and Mark Hargreaves.

“AJ Park did an indicative trade mark search and gave very robust advice. They advised that launching with the original brand would be detrimental for the business moving forward. They understood our innovative model, having worked with many similar clients, and recommended looking for a name that would serve us appropriately in a global sense.”

Mayne says Stay Today used AJ Park as a sounding board for a variety of potential names, and the feedback they received went way beyond what that offered by a typical advertising or digital agency.

“With their original name, there were just too many risk factors in terms of potential infringement,” says Butler. “Trying to navigate a path through the obstacles would create a lot of uncertainty and cost money so we convinced them to start again with a new brand.”

This involved striking the right balance between finding a brand name that could be legally protected, and one that would be strong from a marketing point of view. AJ Park helped Stay Today protect the brand in New Zealand, giving the company a six-month window and priority to file anywhere in the world.

stay today aj park legal adviceMayne says employing a specialist for this type of work has been very important.

“Startups like us often view this sort of advice as too expensive, but if they forgo it, they inevitably regret it down the track,” he says.

“In a perfect world, we’d have engaged AJ Park even earlier in the process because rebranding was an additional cost for us, and we could’ve avoided that pain in the first instance.”

But it’s what lies ahead that matters now. Stay Today is forecasting revenue of more than $10 million in its third year, and AJ Park will soon be looking at the next steps in IP protection and commercialisation.

"We have aggressive plans to roll out across multiple markets around the world,” says Mayne. “We’re already in New Zealand and Australia, and we have the opportunity to capture first-to-market advantage if we move quickly enough.”

Hargreaves, a partner in AJ Park’s commercial team, worked with Stay Today on structuring its agreement with a major media organisation to launch in local markets. He says refining the commercial model to suit different markets will be key to its ongoing success.