The Problem:

Convoluted messaging
Arcane name
Category creation

Krimmeni, an Austin-and San Francisco-based cryptography startup, got in touch, so we did what we always do: we visited their website. We couldn’t figure out who they were, what they did, or who they did it for. We’d later learn that they’re pioneering a hardware-based security solution for the Internet of Things. In their own words, things were:

“… a total mess. our brand was chaotic, all over the board, with a huge lack of understanding. We didn’t have the ability to abstract the technology and articulate the core value proposition.”

Krimmeni needed more than a fresh coat of paint. They needed a top-to-bottom remodel. We had our work cut out for us. Each employee talked about Krimmeni in a different way. By way of explaining their cybersecurity solution, they asked us to ponder lobster traps, invisible keys, and pirate ships — metaphors that made sense to them, but left blank stares on their buyers’ faces.

That had to change. The company’s audience would need to understand what Krimmeni was doing, and they wouldn’t have the same level of technical understanding that these experts did. If Krimmeni wanted the right people to pay attention, they’d have to send a stronger, simpler, unified signal.

The Fix:

Bring the message back to Earth
Start a conversation

To bring the message back to earth, we searched for common ground. What did everyone’s explanation of the technology have in common? We broke down the metaphors — the pirate ships, lobster traps, and invisible keys — and looked for the one idea that would serve as a foundation for their brand.

We landed on “boundaries” as the fundamental concept behind their technology. First, boundaries framed the central problem in Krimmeni’s industry: as the Internet of Things expands, more and more devices expose themselves to attack, requiring billions of small, light boundaries to protect them. That’s the problem Krimmeni is solving, and by framing the problem in a clear, compelling way, they’re able to enter the conversation in a way that feels more like a conversation than a sales pitch.


Boundaries work in the more technical conversations that Krimmeni needs to have, too, because they don’t require the imaginative leap that some of the other metaphors did.

“We use the boundaries concept, especially in the pitch. I’m no longer forced to speak in metaphor or analogies. We can start talking directly about what we can and can’t do. At first, we talked lobster traps and pirate caves — there was no understanding.”

— Rod Schultz, VP of Product

Once we figured out the conversation, we dove into naming. Our goal was to find a name that would not only capture interest, but also lead into a conversation about boundaries. After two rounds of naming, some friendly debate, and a deep trademark screening, Krimmeni had their new name. They became Rubicon.


The story? When it comes to IoT security, we’re past the point of no return. With 10 billion devices online (and another 40 billion expected by 2020), the Internet of Things needs security yesterday. We’ve crossed the Rubicon, and there’s no looking back.

With a name nailed down, we art directed Rubicon’s new logo and produced a video designed to hook big fish and abstract the technology in a consistent way. Each of these projects involved working side-by-side with specialists and Rubicon’s team in order to make sure the results would make sense to layman and crypto expert alike.

“The video was enormous. It’s a beautifully done video, and the animation works. It gives us a sense of legitimacy. It’s our water-into-wine moment. When they get it, it’s actually really cool.”

— Rod Schultz, VP of Product

Check out more hardware names!


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