Let Basecamp be Basecamp: Rebranding a Successful Business

basecampThousands of people have used, or at least heard of, Basecamp, the online project management software. Fewer people have heard of 37Signals, the company that makes Basecamp. Today, 37Signals announced that they are spinning off several of their other projects and becoming, simply, Basecamp.

I’ve used Basecamp on and off over the years, and when I did so, I would see 37Signals on my bank statement and think “What the heck is this for?” It took a while for me to associate the company name with the product name. Rebranding as “Basecamp”  makes a lot of sense. Call the dog the name it answers to.

The trajectory of 37Signals/Basecamp demonstrates that a business can grow in ways that you don’t anticipate when you first hang out your shingle. It’s great to start with a business plan and goals and objectives and a clear strategic brand, but you also need to be open to reviewing what works, what doesn’t work, and when to change direction. Rebranding should reflect where your business is, and where it’s going, not where it was 15 years ago.

I will admit, however, that I haven’t used Basecamp in a while. It’s a good service, don’t get me wrong. But I find that I can use other services—some free, some that I already pay for—to do a lot of the same things. I use Timefox for tracking time and tasks, Dropbox for swapping files, Adium for real time interaction that keeps too many emails from clogging up my in box. Although with the latter two solutions, I found the same issue that I did with Basecamp: clients defaulted to whatever they are most comfortable using all the time anyway. Which in most cases means big files and multiple one-sentence messages clogging my in box.

If you’ve used Basecamp, leave a comment about what your experience has been like. Or if you have considered using it and decided not to do so, please say what factored into your decision. Or if there are other solutions you prefer, I’d love to hear about them.

And a little bit of trivia: I had no idea that Ruby on Rails was developed at 37Signals during the development of Basecamp.