As the world’s most popular CMS WordPress has has incredible reach. And given this immense popularity, it’s no wonder why we see entrepreneurs and developers flocking to WordPress.
Everything from SaaS offerings to themes and plugins. Developers around the world find in WordPress a platform for fulfilling their entrepreneurial aspirations.
But platform and code are one thing. Creating your business brand is another.
Since the first themes were created for WordPress the overwhelming temptation in the WordPress industry has been to slap “WP” or “Press” into the product or business name.
It’s almost like one or two people did it and then everyone followed.
But when you think about it a bit more, do you have a specific reason as to why it makes good business sense to use “WP” in your brand?
Most people use “WP” in their brand name because others before them have done so. And hey – the domain name is probably available so all the more reason! … right?
Well, not necessarily.
Using “WP” might in fact be a good business decision for you, but if your only reasoning for using it is because it’s a WordPress product then I think you might be limiting your product and brand before you even begin.
The question that forever changed my business…
Not many people know this but before LearnDash came to be LearnDash, it was called “WPLMS”.
Yes, it’s a mouthful.
I even had the domain name “wplms.org” (still do in fact).
In 2012 I made an aggressive push to build awareness for the brand. The WPLMS blog was growing and the interest was starting to build. I even began to see the name being mentioned on a few WordPress related news sites after only a few short months of content marketing.
But then I got some very candid feedback from someone showing interest. They weren’t rude, but just straight to the point…
“Why are you calling it “WPLMS”? It’s hard to remember… and I keep forgetting that it’s “.org” and not “.com”.LearnDash Early Adopter
This individual highlighted some glaring problems that I didn’t consider initially.
First, I didn’t own the ‘.com’, but figured that the ‘.org’ version was just as good, or better given that WordPress and all of its plugins live on WordPress.org.
I was wrong. It’s worse.
I realized that people will always assume your domain is “.com” the first time they hear it.
Plus, even if they do remember the actual domain it’s likely that their “finger memory” will resort to typing “.com” anyway. It’s just what people have been accustomed to doing. Now, today that’s less important than in 2012 (we see plenty of businesses with creative domains do just fine). But back then, this worried me.
Not too long after receiving that feedback I found myself speaking to someone over the phone prior to the official release. The conversation is pretty forgettable, with exception that I clearly remember myself having to spell out the domain name very deliberately so they could understand it. When I was done, they asked me: “So what does WP stand for again?”
It’s at that point that I realized people might not be looking for a “WordPress” solution, they are just looking for a solution.
I scrapped WPLMS and switched the name to “LearnDash”. I still consider this to be one of the best decisions made for the business. It’s catchier, a helluva lot easier for people to remember, and it doesn’t pigeon-hole us to just the WordPress die-hard fans and users.
Fun Fact: I actually owned the LearnDash domain name six months prior to making the switch. I randomly thought of the words “learning” and “dashboard”, combined them, and decided to buy the domain. I didn’t think I’d use it at the time. 😛
In any event, I wasn’t the the only one to do something like this (dropping “WP” from the brand).
By way of example, the WPValet dropped “WP” back in 2016 and just become Valet. Valet’s founder Mason told me once that one of the reasons for this switch was because not all of the work they did was necessarily confined to WordPress and they felt like they were limiting their market potential.
It just goes to show that even if you’re using “WP” right now, it doesn’t mean you have to keep using it.
Well-known WordPress brands bypass using “WP”.
Ever hear of WooCommerce? Of course you have. Notice… no “WP”.
Same can be said for OptinMonster.
And Paid Memberships Pro.
I could go on but I’m sure you get the point. While most of these plugins require WordPress, they decided to build their brand to be “WordPress agnostic”. My question to you is why not do the same for your WordPress business?
The advantage that these brands have by not using “WP” is it allows them to more easily enter markets that aren’t directly associated with WordPress.
WooCommerce can more easily go up against Shopify while OptinMonster is in a better position to take on LeadPages. LearnDash is able to snap-up some of the target market of Teachable and Thinkific.
Using “WP” isn’t always a bad thing.
I do want to make it clear that it is perfectly fine to use “WP” in your brand if you want to.
If based on your market research you feel like this gives you a competitive advantage or helps to clearly articulate your core value, then by all means you should make a point to use it.
WPEngine WordPress hosting is a great example of a business that has built an extremely successful brand by using “WP”. It works, and works well. You get an immediate sense about what it is they have to offer and who they serve.
Another great example is WP101, the popular WordPress training site by Shawn and Kay Hesketh. In their context, using “WP” makes a ton of sense. In an instant you get an understanding that they offer WordPress based courses (and good ones at that). It’s recognizable and incredibly easy to remember.
Deciding what to choose for your brand.
So how do you know if you should make “WP” a part of your branding strategy?
There is no hard-set rule. It comes down to your primary industry and customer — which requires that you do ample market research (something that’s so often neglected by WordPress entrepreneurs).
But here’s an example.
Let’s say you have a WordPress plugin that is meant for design firms to manage projects. It’s sort of a replacement for Basecamp, but is a little different.
Based on the target market information alone, do you think it would make sense to call your plugin “ProjectMangerWP”?
No, it doesn’t.
You could call it that, but design firms don’t necessarily care if the solution is on (or related to) WordPress. They just want to manage projects.
Okay, I cheated a little because this is an actual product from my friend Ross Johnson.
Ross didn’t use “WP” for his brand and came up with the catchy brand name in Project Panorama, which in my humble opinion gives his product a lot more reach.
As you build out your product (or better yet, before you build out your product) try to really identify who it is that will get the most value from it.
Take the time to create customer profiles and then based on those profiles you can make an educated decision as to whether “WP” actually adds value to your brand, or if it instead limits market and growth potential.
After that exercise, you may land on using “WP” – and that’s perfectly fine! At least you will know that it’s a decision based on research and not just because it’s what everyone else seems to do.
And look, if you decide you want to change it later on then it’s not the end of the world (as that has been done plenty of times). This post is less about bashing the use of “WP” and more about pointing out the importance of understanding your target market, to think bigger, and to really zero-in on your value proposition.