SynthaSite no more — website builder now called Yola

UpdatedStarting today, free website builder SynthaSite has a new name — Yola.

Normally, I don’t spend time worrying about branding, as long as a company name isn’t egregiously stupid. Still, I was a bit confused by the move, since SynthaSite seems like a clearer and more obvious name than Yola, and the San Francisco company already reached one million users under the old name.

So what’s the deal? According to the company’s frequently asked questions page, users complained that SynthaSite was too hard to “say, spell and remember.” Really? As for the new name, apparently Yola comes from “jhola”, the Hindi word for “hatch.” The idea is that Yola is “where you hatch your big ideas on the web.” Which makes about as much sense as most company names — and hey, it’s not like Weebly (SynthaSite’s popular competitor) has an obvious meaning, either. I also wondered if the name change was brought about by Yola’s venture backers. But the company says the close timing of its $20 million second round and its rebranding is “purely a coincidence.”

Oh, and if you’ve built a website using a SynthaSite subdomain, for example venturebeat.synthasite.com (not a real site), the address won’t be changing. In fact, for now you won’t be able to register Yola subdomains at all, only SynthaSite ones and custom domains that you pay Yola to register. That may tempt more users to fork over cash for Yola’s domain reselling service.

Lastly, although I’m ambivalent on the name change, it’s certainly much less obnoxious than the Scifi Channel’s recent decision to rebrand itself as “SyFy.”

Update: Chief executive Vinny Lingham blogged about the name change, saying:

Given the sizeable investment we’ve just received, we obviously have big plans for the company. The rename was always going to happen, the funding is just going to enable us to achieve those goals faster.

SynthaSite is a great name for our website building product, but we don’t believe the brand transfers very well to ancillary products that we may launch in the future. I’m not a big fan of having multiple brands in any fast growing market (it’s different in mature markets – multiple brands allow for more “shelf space”), so in order to consolidate our branding across our future products and services, we had to select a brand that could transfer brand equity from one product to another, in which case “SynthaSite” doesn’t work as well as “Yola”.