Andy Peters

Founder. Developer. Bicyclist.

Courtyard was a bad name

I’ve been working on Courtyard for a while now. A few months ago, I posted some lessons I learned along the way when validating the app with actual customers. I thought I’d also share my lessons from giving Courtyard a bad name to build a brand around. Before you tell me “Yah, dude.” Let me explain how I got here…

For a long time, I’d call Courtyard by many different project names. None of them were good enough for me to say to a possible customer. None of them ever made what I was working on sound like an actual product to me either. I wanted something more real.

When I landed on the name Courtyard I liked it. A courtyards is often a communal place surrounded by the property buildings, common to any apartment/condo/etc. That sense of a community place everybody used is wanted the product to say. This is the same thought so many property managers want to portray with their management companies and not to mention a large hotel company.

Existing Well Established Brand

Have you heard of Courtyard by Marriott ™️? I bet you have, I know I have. It is a very popular chain of hotels/motels across the country. Anytime I mentioned Courtyard to people, their mind often wondered to the hotel chain. Initially I talked myself out of worrying about this connection. I wish I have taken the overlap and gray area between what I’m doing and their brand more seriously. I’d go back in time and drill these thoughts into my head better:

  • I did some basic trademark searching and found that the name Courtyard wasn’t used in context of “software for property managers”. This included an attorney conversation or two. I thought this was enough, it wasn’t.
  • If I ever thought that the product I was building would be in the hotel space in anyway, then this would be a problem. A good friend of mine, helped me really see how this would be a problem. Good call John. This is not a branding limit I want put in place this early on.
  • Domains for a single word are hard enough to attain, but something like will be impossible to attain now with an established brand around it. This isn’t a problem by itself, but it is another card added to the naming house of cards.

While the two names were confusing at first for some, I was hopeful that the product would eventually standout and the cross naming wouldn’t matter. Its really obvious now, that it would and its not worth the fight.

Target Market Confusion

This is what killed it for me. Go search courtyard property management software or property management courtyard for instance. It hadn’t hit me to search for the product in ways that I think others might search for it. When I did that, I realized just how much the word Courtyard was used in property management, apartments, condos and within the market in general. This was truly the biggest problem with “Courtyard” as a name for the product.

This takes a too common of a word to the next level. It’s too common of a word in the market that I want to enter.

Starting Over

Its time for a new name. At least its not like this is an established product with a registered business and huge branding initiative around it. At the state of product development I’m in now, its not a big deal to simply change the name. I’m anxious to just call it something already but, a new brand and product name won’t happen over night.

I’m taking naming and branding more seriously now. I’m sure there will be more thoughts to share in the future. For now, back to the whiteboard, vision boards and long naming discussions.