What’s in a name? Taxi!
posted on 8th Mar 2019 by Gary Gleeson
When Hailo came on the scene in Dublin it was an instant success. Founded in London in 2011, the taxi ordering app was simple and brilliantly clever. Order your taxi on the app with the push of a button, Hailo then knew where you were. And you could also see where they were and how long till it arrived! Gone were the frustrating “Where’s my cab, I’m late” calls to the taxi office. But what really seemed to catch on was the name. “I’m going to Hailo a cab” was a familiar phrase heard around the city. It was becoming the colloquialism for ordering a taxi on-line. The “Hoover” and “Google” of the taxi business. It swept the city like wildfire and soon most taxis were signed up to the app.
Then something happened. They were bought out. And not by another technology company but by one of the big global brands- Mercedes (technically Daimler Financial Services but you know what I mean!). A great buy for Mercedes you’d think, soon Hailo will be all over Europe. But no, the name Hailo was to be scrapped and the firm merged with the bigger Mercedes-owned MyTaxi. Sure they were bigger (not by much) and in more cities, but I think they missed a trick in the naming department. Three years later people are still ‘Hailoing’ cabs here and not too many are asked to ‘MyTaxi’ a cab. They did share the striking yellow and black brand colours though, so at least there were some synergies.
But the story doesn’t end there. It was announced on 22nd February that MyTaxi will undergo another name change due to a partnership between Daimler and BMW. As Silicon Republic reported, “The more immediate sign of change from an Irish perspective will be the fact that the Daimler-owned MyTaxi service will be changing its name to the Free Now brand as part of the deal some time later this year.” So where has this new name come from, Free Now, not very catchy and the logo is very uninspiring? You would think that two very brand savvy companies could come up with something better! It looks like a design-by-committee brand to me. As I said earlier, it’s a shame that Daimler didn’t seem to realise what they had with the name Hailo. We’ll wait and see how the brand roll out of Free Now looks and how the brand performs but I’m not going to hold my breath that it will be worth it.
Gary Gleeson, Partner
Gary is a Partner at Neworld, a brand agency with over 30 years experience developing brands to position them for future growth. Gary has worked with some of Ireland’s biggest brands such as Diageo, John Rocha and O2 and is a recognised expert in hospitality branding, working with Fade St Social, Powerscourt Hotel, Mount Juliet and Adare Manor to name but a few. His belief in branding and its relationship with design effectiveness has seen him guide a myriad of companies through the branding maze. He realises client visions using this synergy of strategic branding and design. He is also the self-professed champion of chilli-making!