The Problem:

The business has changed
‘Crowd’ was confusing

CrowdFlower knew they needed help. The business had evolved since opening its doors in 2007 when they set out to give data a human touch. Specifically, the company worked with human-in-the-loop machine learning data, a process by which humans are critical in making sure large batches of data are correct — the type of work no machine is built for.

Human-in-the-loop in action.

In working with companies to label training data for machine learning and artificial intelligence applications, CrowdFlower developed a SaaS product to manage this entire process. The goal of the software is to give the keys to their clients so they can make themselves at home and dial in exactly what they want. From a brand perspective, it was clear that ‘Crowd’ had to go because it no longer accurately described the human-in-the-loop element of their business.

We started the process by speaking with key stakeholders, employees, and customers. We became very familiar with machine learning, training data, and artificial intelligence. Part of our homework was to watch the episode of Silicon Valley that introduces the “Hotdog or Not Hotdog” software. A surprisingly helpful task.

CrowdFlower is really running two businesses: a SaaS platform and a crowdsourced data labelling business. Our first task was to objectively assess whether or not they needed to rename. Then to help them decide, from a brand perspective, if the crowdsourced business should be separated from the SaaS business.

The Fix:

Find a name with depth
Trust the process

First things first. Everything we heard and learned made our recommendation clear: they should rename the company because CrowdFlower is confusing and dated. So, we got to work renaming the SaaS business and agreed to consider how that name might work for the crowdsourcing end of the business once we made it through two rounds of names.

We agreed that the name should have one foot in science and one foot in the real world, because engineering and computer science are very important to them, however we wanted to make sure the name would work for the parts of their audience that are outside of those worlds. It was important to the team that we inject some humanity so we looked at the human talent that powers this whole operation, the idea that the real world is messy and nuanced, and the relationships betweens humans and machines as complex and beautiful.


Nature, labelled.

Finally, we thought a lot about duality and playing at the boundaries of humans and machines, what is organic and mathematical, what is subjective and rational, and exploring repeating patterns in nature.

Our process is designed to guide clients to a new name which means we need to help lift the weight off an incumbent name and create space for a new name to take shape. They were ready and helped create that space for new explorations to be considered.

Figure Eight was selected because the number eight carries a lot of meaning for them — more so than we anticipated. We like it because a Figure Eight is a beautiful, strong knot and the glyph is a symbol for infinity — metaphors for strength and continuous learning.


A figure eight knot in its natural habitat.

They liked the name so much their CEO Robin Bordoli wrote a nice piece on how they got to the name and why they like it.

Want a response like that? Check out our naming software page and see how we do it.


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