We’ve discussed, debated, decided, changed our minds, debated again, decided again, changed our minds again, and finally decided for sure just recently. Basecamp Next will actually be named Basecamp.
For marketing and communications purposes, once we launch the new Basecamp, today’s Basecamp will be referred to as Basecamp Classic and the all new Basecamp will simply be known as Basecamp.
How we got here
Originally, we didn’t really have a name in mind. We weren’t thinking about the name. The first time I presented the idea I called it BC3, but soon after that we started calling it BCX. X didn’t stand for anything other than “we don’t know what it’s going to be called, so let’s just use X”. We liked the way it sounded, too.
As we got a month or two into the design process, we started seeing it take shape. With shape, we started to toss around some names. Early on we tossed around things like Basecamp 3 (we had already called a major redesign a few years in Basecamp 2). But we didn’t like version numbers – especially since we know there wasn’t going to be feature parity between the current Basecamp and the new product we were building.
To cast a wide net, we asked the whole company what they thought the name should be. As you’d expect from a group of 25+, there were a lot of opinions.
In the “Basecamp Something” area we saw: Basecamp Pro, Basecamp Live, Basecamp Pages, Basecamp Express, Basecamp Direct, Basecamp Core, Basecamp Arrow, Basecamp Ace, Basecamp Now, Basecamp X, Basecamp Next, among others. We liked Next the best, but we were still on the fence.
Then we started thinking… What if we didn’t call it Basecamp? What if it was something all new. Basecamp stayed Basecamp and this new product was named something else entirely. From there we looked at a variety of names that didn’t include Basecamp. We’d been considering some of these names for other products, so we tried them on for size here. We liked them, but some had potential trademark issues and others didn’t feel quite right.
As the product continued to mature during design and development, it became clear it was very Basecamp-like. The feature set wasn’t the same, but the fundamentals were. It was about managing projects, keeping everything together in one place, keeping the team up to date, providing a central workspace for projects no matter where people physically worked, etc. That was what Basecamp did. Launching another product with a different name would only confuse people and water down a brand we’ve been hard at work building for eight years.
So we started leaning towards Basecamp Classic for the current Basecamp and just Basecamp for the new Basecamp. But then we got cold feet. The new Basecamp wasn’t good enough yet to take ownership of the Basecamp name.
More debates, more discussions, more certainty, more uncertainty. This was good and healthy. We weren’t in a rush to pick a name and launch next week. But we also wanted to make a call so we could begin thinking about the transition and how we’d start talking about this new thing we were building.
So we called Jeff Bezos and asked him for his opinion. This was December 2011. The conversation went on for over an hour, but at one point he asked us why we weren’t comfortable calling the new product Basecamp and renaming the current version Basecamp Classic. It was a good question. We’d been asking ourselves this question for months, and coming up with different answers each time.
Having someone on the outside ask us this question really helped us think it through. It’s one thing to ask yourself something. It’s another thing entirely to explain yourself to someone.
We weren’t comfortable calling it Basecamp because the feature set wasn’t strong enough. We were considering launching without a calendar/dates feature. We knew we’d add one in post launch, but launching without one, and calling this new product Basecamp, just wouldn’t make sense.
In our heads we were thinking we’d release the new product as Basecamp Next, roll out a calendar six months later, and then rename it Basecamp (and change the current Basecamp to Basecamp Classic).
But then Jeff asked us one more question that brought absolute clarity to the decision. “Besides the calendar, what’s the #2 feature that you think is missing?” We didn’t have a clear #2. The clear #1 was the calendar. The #2 was a tie between a variety of smaller things – none of which were deal breakers for the vast majority of our customers. Certainly some customers would consider missing this or that a deal breaker, but there was nothing on the same everyone-needs-this level as the calendar. If there was no calendar, there’d be blood.
So then it all became clear. Let’s push out launch for a few months and build the best damn calendar we’ve ever built. We were eager to release the all new Basecamp in January 2012, but after the talk with Jeff, and after thinking about what it would take to build a fantastic calendar into Basecamp, we decided to shoot for March. The extra time would allow us to polish up the app in a variety of other spots, too. We’ve used that time very wisely.
There’s a lot more to the story, but that’s basically it.
So, coming this March, today’s Basecamp will be known as Basecamp Classic and the all new Basecamp (formerly known as Basecamp Next) will simply be named Basecamp.
Both products will live along side each other. People can choose to continue to use Basecamp Classic, the new Basecamp, or a combination of both. People who choose to try out the new Basecamp will be able to copy their users and projects over from Classic into the new Basecamp (originals will stay in Classic so that account will remain untouched).
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