TL; DR: A good brand identity is critical to a company’s reception in the marketplace, but the work of developing names, logos, and taglines has historically been a lengthy process. Squadhelp innovates on that cycle, providing custom agency-style solutions and contests with creatives to deliver branding content more efficiently. In addition, Squadhelp hosts a domain marketplace, trademark registration solution, and a name-testing service.
Squadhelp is the brainchild of a frustrated tech visionary who struggled to find a name for a fast-fashion company. He then turned to an entrepreneurship forum for inspiration and received surprisingly good results.
“He said, ‘I’ll give you X amount of money if you folks can help me get a name for my business,’” said Grant Polachek, head of branding for Squadhelp. “And it worked pretty well for him.”
Today, Squadhelp serves as a digital branding and marketing company that connects users with designers. The service is especially popular with budget-minded entrepreneurs, venture-backed tech startups, and some of the biggest brands in the world.
“In the current climate, either you go to an agency where they’re going to charge you $10,000 for these services or do it yourself,” Grant said. “Agencies have some wonderful clients, and big businesses go all-in on them, but small startups can’t do that sort of thing. The price point is just too cumbersome.”
Companies explain their value proposition during Squadhelp naming contests and designers respond with their creative ideas. These contests include suggestions for company names and even logos and taglines. In addition, Squadhelp offers a marketplace for buying and selling business and domain names, a trademark filing service, video creation tools, and audience testing services.
“This is really the first site built to help all sorts of entrepreneurs, founders, and product leaders through the naming process in a smarter, faster way,” Grant said.
A Compelling Brand is Essential for New Businesses
A company’s brand identity is its lifeblood. A solid brand — consisting of a name, a logo, a tagline, and a brand style guide — conveys a message about the company and its values. Brands become easily recognizable, even in simplified logo form, when they’re sufficiently compelling. For example, McDonald’s golden arches and the Nike swoosh need no introduction. But branding is a subtle art that blends psychology and graphic design to elicit positive emotional connotations while communicating something about the branded company.
In a typical arrangement, an entrepreneur with an idea would either create his or her own brand identity by hand or work with a professional designer. Most larger organizations use established marketing agencies staffed with dozens or hundreds of designers. Smaller companies often rely on a single freelance designer or seek basic brand guidance using a website builder or template.
“If you go to an agency, you’ll probably work with one or maybe five people on a good day,” Grant said. “On our platform, you’re working with several dozens and, as we grew, several hundred. So you get a lot of ideas from a lot of people, with a huge number of backgrounds and from different countries.”
This diversity of perspectives helps entrepreneurs fine-tune their messaging, especially if they need to demonstrate a high degree of cultural competence across market segments. For example, a logo and tagline that might resonate with young urban professionals on the West Coast may ring hollow with retired Cuban refugees in Miami — not to mention with working-class customers in India or Poland.
“Seven years ago, I think that people were on top of that feeling of inclusivity even in naming,” Grant said. “When you get people from all around the world with different backgrounds to suggest ideas, you’re going to have a cooler selection and stronger cross-cultural appeal.”
Domain Marketplace, Logos, and Taglines Launch Businesses in Style
The heart of Squadhelp are its 200,000-plus naming and branding experts. Although the site shows a list of generated business names and even names for sale, the most unique selling point is its highly unique contest feature. An entrepreneur selects a package consisting of one or more names, logos, taglines, and business card designs. After filling in a brief form with basic information about the company and its target market — including visual preferences for the brand identity — the entrepreneur picks one of four packages. The entrepreneur may also choose to limit participants to experienced creatives only.
The entrepreneur picks his or her favorite results and goes from there. Typically, the program includes non-disclosure and IP transfer details. If an entrepreneur is not satisfied, the contest timeline can be extended or the entrepreneur can meet with a Squadhelp branding consultant, among other options. The financial award for the winning creative is baked into the price of the total package, so there’s no haggling about costs or payments later. The accepted brand assets are then ready for integration into a site-builder tool or transfer to a web developer.
Squadhelp offers other services, too, including a trademark-filing package and a brand-name test that tries out a list of potential company names with hundreds of users in targeted demographic profiles.
“We started adding features, like audience testing and trademark support,” Grant said. “We began making a more robust quality scoring algorithm because one of the problems with crowdsourcing is that if nobody’s managing it, it’s just this free-for-all. So we have an algorithm behind the system, and we’re honing that to get better solutions. We’re really digging into the user experience and ramping that up.”
Squadhelp also facilitates a domain marketplace to help entrepreneurs, founders, and product leaders get started with a new venture without delay.
“With the marketplace side of our solution, we’ve already prevetted domain names,” he said. “You can instantly access quality options without excessive sorting. In a few hours, you can look at hundreds of relevant domains and pick the one that makes the most sense.”
Unique, High-Quality Naming Services
Brand identity is crucial. It dictates how consumers view a company and sets visual cues about its line of business and cultural values. Formal branding exercises with marketing agencies can be long-running and costly affairs. But a company puts its reputation at risk without a well-developed company name, logo, and tagline. Very small businesses face an even greater risk because they often lack the capital to engage an agency for this kind of work.
“When you think of entrepreneurship, you think of launching your website; you think of value propositions,” Grant said. “Nobody’s talking about naming. But there are so many people struggling with it. I’ve never talked to a startup owner who says, ‘Oh, yeah, that was the easy part. I just did it.’”
To help entrepreneurs thrive, Squadhelp delivers innovative branding solutions in the form of name, logo, and tagline contests. The company offers a domain marketplace, trademark registration, and crowd testing of shortlisted company names to further support entrepreneurs.
As for the company’s next phase of evolution, Squadhelp intends to expand its service portfolio to include additional types of testing. For example, the company has worked with several cosmetics companies to evaluate package design. Squadhelp has also beta-tested pop-up displays, copy alternatives, and bullet-point lists to help fine-tune a brand-critical message for customers.
Grant believes that growth beyond naming makes sense given the value of Squadhelp. “We’re about harnessing the collective genius of all these people, and really, it’s about inclusion. It’s about offering a diversity of ideas faster, better, and more affordably.”