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I paid $200 for someone to name my company Whiskass

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Squadhelp is one of many companies that helps customers come up with business names, logos, and slogans through the power of crowdsourcing. I’m not proud to admit it, but I recently employed Squadhelp to brainstorm some names for my recent startup venture. While I didn’t end up using any of my crowd-sourced names, the experience was equal parts hilarious and infuriating.

 

To draw the “creatives” that provide the name ideas, Squadhelp holds contests that reward the winning entrant a minimum of $100, though the contest holder can up the ante if they feel the need. For the most basic package, Squadhelp charges contest holders $199 but the prices quickly go up as you add features and additional crowd reviews.

Once the contest is live, the thousands of self-proclaimed creatives can submit ideas and receive real-time feedback from the contest holder. This particular service encourages the contest holder to rank each submission on a scale of very happy smiley face to very sad frowny. To help guide the submissions more in line with what you’re after, you can tag each rejected idea with additional feedback like “too generic,” or “not a good fit for us,” with the hopes that the crowd will refine their ideation process. The creatives compete within a specific contest, but also are tracked on a “leaderboard” publicly, an interesting tool to incentivize continued, high quality participation.

 

But that’s where it falls apart. While a handful of submissions are well thought out and responsive to input, volume seems to be the name of the game. After being live for only a day, I quickly found myself weeding out names of businesses that already exist, explicit names that seemed to have been bot-generated, and some real winners like “WarmBelly Couture” or “Own My Human” (both real entries).

 

While a clever use of crowdsourcing, there are virtually no barriers to entry into this market – meaning price and quality of your creative community is your key differentiation factor. To that end, maintaining consistently superior quality is of key concern given the incentive for top tier creatives to multi-home and enter in competitions across all the platforms.

 

On the other hand, the growth potential is significant, as the company does a great job at extracting value from add-on products like domain name registrations, trademark searches and applications, and even going so far as to provide logo generation, slogan brainstorming, and focus groups – all available for extra charges.

 

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7 thoughts on “I paid $200 for someone to name my company Whiskass

  1. This is hilarious and sad at the same time. I definitely see the value in the platform as naming companies and coming up with trademarks are difficult tasks and can definitely benefit from some inspiration from crowds but I wonder if they could change their incentive / payment structure. For example, creatives are only paid if their submissions are eventually used in the name (I know this would be hard to track though) or if they get a certain level of smiley. Or creatives get kicked off if they get x% of frown faces or x% submissions reported as spam. They could also leverage a model similar to the case we did in class where people enter submissions, internal employees narrow down to a few good ones and then release them back out to the crowd to work on them and the few that get chosen the first round get a few $ and then the winning one gets a few more $.

  2. Great post and I agree completely with JC’s comment above. Squadhelp should definitely work on refining the incentive model, and I also wonder how the company could work attract participants with more branding experiences to increase the quality of ideas. Perhaps Squadhelp could expand the platform a bit to offer services like logo creation through third party sites, and encourage those branding platforms to contribute name ideas as payment for logo leads or something of that nature.

  3. Thank you Christie for your post! It is very interesting that you went through the process. As mentioned in comments before, my main concern would be the quality of responses and the time that the person hiring the service has to devote to going through all the information. I wonder what is the screening process for the creatives in the platform. If there are no significant barriers to entry I would worry that there are many people that are not serious about the service provided, which appears to be the case. I wonder if by increasing the complexity of the requirements slightly, such as an explanation for the name, random submissions would be de-incentivized due to the increased effort needed.

  4. Ha that’s super funny. I wonder where the benefit comes from this compared to taking that money and having something custom made on freelancer or fiverr or 99designs? I’ve seen folks get names and logos for around that price or less from outsourcing to designers but they are always true designers. While the volume of options may seem helpful I feel like option fatigue makes only a small handful of options worthwhile. Additionally, there’s a psychological satisfaction to being involved with the thinking behind the creative process the whole time. I have done a lot of freelance custom design for clients and often times working directly with them early to iterate once or twice on a name or logo helps with buyers remorse and often helps them feel more confident and excited about their name and logo, an inherently subjective topic.

  5. Well at least it turned out to be a pretty good story even if it wasn’t the most helpful! Just the other day I was helping a friend come up with a name for a brewery he’s opening, and it turned out to be a pretty frustrating process. Each time we felt like we had a great name, we would go online to discover that the name was taken. It’s pretty surprising that Squadhelp doesn’t have the ability to filter out names that are already being used (or at the very least indicate that they may be in use). I feel like presenting the customer with an option only for the customer to then discover that the name is already taken after a simple Google search is a pretty good way to generate a ton of dissatisfaction. I do think Squadhelp could be helpful as a thought provoker though by generating a bunch of ideas. With that said, it doesn’t sound like Squadhelp is worth recommending to my friend… I guess he’ll have to figure it out the traditional way.

  6. Am I understanding correctly that the minimum prize is $100 and the minimum charge to a person who wants to use the platform is $199? In other words, are they really making a 50% commission on the transaction? That seems super greedy. If it’s true then I’m not surprised the quality is so low, if the operation is just a money grab

  7. This is a really interesting form of crowdsourcing similar to the marketing company we studied in class. It seems like Squadhelp has built out a nice tiered pricing structure that allows businesses to choose the level of service that works for them. As you point out, differentiation is principally achieved through value add of the creative submissions. It seems to me that adding a filtering algorithm that weeds out off the wall submissions as well as those that have already been trademarked, would be an extremely valuable tool that wouldn’t be all that costly to build. Additionally, it would seem that the “star” system should be used to rank submissions of creatives in future contests, therefore incentivizing quality submissions, even if it ultimately wasn’t the right fit for any one contest. Finally, it would seem that allowing creatives to provide feedback on the quality of the information they are provided in order to come up with the name and logo would help improve the ecosystem.

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