Fun, Fresh Product Naming from Freshbooks

October 23, 2008

As my daughter’s preschool teacher says when encouraging the class to clean up at the end of the day, “it’s OK to have fun if you get the job done.”

Too many marketers miss this point. How many uber-serious meetings have you been in where any suggestion with a hint of fun is shot down? Old-style marketing interrrupts: ads in the middle of your TV show or newspaper, banner ads flashing at you from the Website you visit for information, unsolicited emails cluttering your inbox. New-style marketing, we’re told, is based on permission, on adding value by participating in conversations, or on peer-to-peer passing along of viral messages.

What do old and new marketing have in common? Neither prohibits fun, and both too often forget it. In fact, fun is an advantage. Since the dawn of time, advertisers have known that you’d better be fun if you interrupt something people want to see (like, for example, the Super Bowl – a quick review of 2008’s Top 10 makes that point). And yet, in other areas of marketing – like product naming – serious rules.

Freshbooks is smart enough to break through that seriousness. Their product line-up has names that are both fun and informative. Let’s think about what they’ve chosen to communicate on their product page:

  • Intuitive product hierarchy – how does the line-up scale up from entry-level to high-end? Going from ‘Moped’  and ‘Shuttle Bus’ through ‘Starship’ and ‘Time Machine’ gives us a clear hierarchy
  • Features of each product in comparison to the others – clearly communicated through a simple grid. If I know nothing more than the number of customers I have and the number of accounting staff I have, I can choose a plan that fits me. Openly communicating the features of your products displays transparency and builds trust
  • Encourage free trial – with the free ‘Moped’ subscription they’ve put a freemium model into action here. It meets enough needs to be worth trying but, with an upper limit of 3 clients, will quickly be outgrown. And the Freshbooks branding on any emails sent from the ‘Moped’ means that Freshbooks extracts extra viral value from its free users

I don’t think ‘fun’ or ‘simple’ when I think of accounting software. By breaking those unspoken rules, Freshbooks is cutting through the clutter of Sarbanes-Oxley compliant debit-and-credit boring messaging. Kudos to them.


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