How these fintech founders knew when it was time to change their brand name

Founders of fintech startup, DiviPay, explain the transition to Weel and the employee buy-in and branding smarts needed to deliver it

Daniel Kniaz
Daniel Kniaz

When Daniel Kniaz and Russell Martin founded their fintech startup five years ago, they thought they had struck upon the perfect name. The company's service was designed to help people split up payments – to literally 'divi-up' a bill – and so DiviPay seemed wholly appropriate.

As often happens with startups however, the opportunities that unfolded for DiviPay quickly began taking the company in new directions. What began as a tool for consumers soon evolved into a corporate card and spend management platform for small and medium businesses.

“We had a number of 'pivot or persevere' moments over those five years before landing on what we do today,” Kniaz tells CMO. “But we never saw changing our name as the biggest problem to solve, so it kind of just remained. Then as our product evolved and the customers we were targeting really changed, it made sense that we shed that legacy.”

This need became greater still when Kniaz realised his company was being inappropriately categorised among buy-now-pay-later services, and that its name was failing to convey the premium positioning that he sought for it.

“We have a very premium product, and we also sell to quite sophisticated buyers - CFOs of small and now more medium-sized businesses - so we wanted to have a brand that was a bit more mature than what we had previously,” Kniaz says.

With the decision to change the brand now locked in, the next decision was what to replace it with.

“We wanted something that fit into the category of 'more bold',” Kniaz says. “You can look at SaaS products and fintech companies all around the world, and if you remove the name, and they all look very, very similar.

“We really saw creating a strong brand as an opportunity to create competitive advantage, so we wanted something that was a little more distinctive and didn't just look like the myriad other fintechs. And then we wanted a colour pallet and a design framework that we could really own and would be a little more timeless.”

Realising help was needed, the company engaged the services of M&C Saatchi-owned creative agency, Re Design, which previously worked with Optus and the Commonwealth Bank, to create an entirely new brand and visual identity. In addition to his brand aspirations, Kniaz says practical considerations played a strong role in the brand's development, especially given the company's global ambitions.

“We needed a name that from a practical point of view could be trademarked and used around the world, and then something that was easy to understand,” Kniaz says.

Numerous concepts and names were considered before the company settled on Weel, with a logo constructed from card-shaped objects arranged in a wheel and presented in a bold green. While Kniaz says the company has opted for a name that is more abstract than functional, it aligns with the brand values of 'collective accountability' and 'moving money forward'.

“The logo itself is made up of a bunch of cards, and from there we pop out the different features and functionalities we offer,” Kniaz says.

Employee buy-in

Just as important as the rebrand is how it has been communicated to the Weel team. “You may have a great product, but the first thing people make a judgement on is their first interaction,” Kniaz says. “If you look like a premium product, you need to back that up.

“We worked with Re on this in quite a lot of detail, on 'what do we say', and more importantly, 'what do we not say'. So it was all about aligning the team to the brand guidelines and making them really, really clear, and having a really solid process.”

With the new brand in place, Kniaz is hopeful it will provide the scope the company needs to support expansion and development, which includes ambitions for Southeast Asia. He also believes it will help ensure the company remains aligned to its mission as it moves through its next phase of growth.

“The things that helped us be successful when we were 10 people aren't necessarily the things that are going to help us be successful at 50 or 60 people,” Kniaz says. “We have a more diverse group, so we need to make sure we create a set of values that resonate with everyone and with the stage we are at.

“Doing the rebrand was a great forcing function for us to look at those values.”

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