Naming a kinder, safer, more fun social media platform
The challenge: social beings being social
Way back in ancient times (the 1990s and before), when you heard the word “social,” it preceded words like ice cream, butterfly, ladder, skills, life, or simply “being.”
But in the decade that followed, a new word began to be paired with social: media. This new phrase took on a whole new meaning that steered away from the very roots of what it means to be social — the Latin noun socius meaning “comrade, friend, ally” and the adjective, socialis, describing a bond or interaction between parties that are friendly, or at least civil.
The response: a new vision for social media
Friends and ex-Tweeps, Gabor Cselle and Sarah Oh were disappointed by and fed up with the wreckage of so many social media platforms. They decided it was time to help turn the tide of social media back towards a hospitable place to have authentic human conversations. A place that values kindness, trust, safety, and a positive user experience above all.
So, Gabor and Sarah teamed-up to create a new social media platform, which they first called T2. It was intended to serve as a temporary name for use during initial development in a public beta. But they always knew they wanted a different name — one that perfectly reflects the values and vision behind their brand positioning. That’s when they called Zinzin.
(Side note: A happy former client, the CEO of Quilt, referred Gabor and Sarah to Zinzin. We love it when that happens! )
Pebble: behind the name
Zinzin created the name Pebble as a response to our client’s clear vision and brand positioning: to be authentic and humble, bringing a refreshing experience, even magic moments of delight through connection and conversation with real people. A renewed vision for social media as an oasis without the toxic stew of bots, misinformation, and hate speech.
The Ripple Effect
Pebble maps to the concepts of small, humble, and part of the natural environment as the result of natural processes. Each pebble is unique and has been smoothed by the action of water, signifying the passage of time.
However, when tossed in a pond, even a little pebble makes ripples that expand ever outward, a metaphor for the potential of each and every individual using this platform to create far-reaching effects on culture and society.
A pebble is also something simple and familiar the world over. Whether you toss it or hold it in your hand for luck, a pebble is never singular or alone. It’s forever part of a greater collection or gathering.
About the domain: Pebble is…
Another ripple in this project was that the client required an exact-match domain name. However, they did not require a “.com” TLD (top-level domain). Zinzin helped Pebble sort through a number of domain options. Together, we serendipitously learned that “.is” is the country-code TLD for Iceland and that pebble.is was available for registration.
The beauty of this domain is that it seamlessly reinforces the brand positioning that Pebble is fundamentally about people:
Pebble is…all of us!
Fun fact: that time Zinzin & Pebble (then T2) were on Japanese TV!
This naming project created yet another ripple that extended all the way to Japan. During our brand positioning meeting with Gabor and Sarah, we were filmed by Japan’s NHK for a television business show.
Update: November 1, 2023
Unfortunately, as is true of many startups, Pebble was not able to secure its Series A funding, mainly because, between its creation as T2 and its relaunch as Pebble, both Threads and Bluesky launched, and investors were not convinced that Pebble could grow large enough to gain a critical mass of users. The 20,000 enthusiastic early adopters of Pebble might beg to differ, but that’s how it goes sometimes (often!) in the ruthless world of tech and venture capital.
However, on Halloween 2023, a day before shutting down, Pebble was reborn as a Mastodon server, and anyone is welcome to join. Hopefully the ethos behind Pebble, and the brand itself, can grow and thrive in this new environment. It will at least be an interesting experiment, as we all learn to navigate the new social media landscape.
Visit: Pebble.social (Mastodon server)
“My co-founders and I were very happy with the depth of the brief Zinzin delivered for possible names. We also appreciated their help with the trademarking process. In the end, we also received very strong validation and feedback because our community really liked the name that we chose.”
Clutch interviewed several of our fantastic clients about their experience working with Zinzin. To read these full reviews, see References/Testimonials.