We are proud to announce that Own Your Own Boda has been officially renamed, reregistered and revamped to Tugende (pronounced Too-Ken-Day). We look forward to growing dramatically with our new brand while retaining our core mission of helping self-employed individuals get the opportunity to take control of their own financial futures. The decision to change names wasn’t easy, though, and we wanted to explain how and why it came about–especially for those sad to see OYOB shelved.
When Matt, Medie and I (see us above with our first bike) sat down in mid-2010 to choose a name for what was then a small scheme for motorcycle loans, we didn’t put a lot of thought into it. The overwhelming opinion of our friends and colleagues in Kampala, Uganda was that we were crazy and there was no way to make this a real business. Our first attempt was overloaded with creativity: “MMM Limited,” or possibly “MMM Enterprises.”
When our lawyer checked with the registrar of companies, this was taken by some other triumvirate of Ms and we had to keep looking. Own Your Own Boda was eventually settled on because it was descriptive and easily understood by our friends and potential clients.
The company has come a long way since we finally completed our incorporation in October 2010. We have helped more than 100 drivers start the path to ownership and over 40 have already taken possession of their own motorcycles.
So why change the name?
The overall reason is we got an offer for professional help–meaning we could really do it right. Through our participation in the 2012 Unreasonable Institute, we were one of two companies selected by global branding firm Siegel+Gale for sponsorship. The award included a small cash grant and much more valuable in-kind brand consulting. When a company with an entire naming division suggests you consider a shorter, simpler name, and has lots of other ideas about how to improve your brand, it makes sense to listen.
One of the main issues we had with Own Your Own Boda was constant explanation. It was often shortened, including by us, to the acronym OYOB. So when explaining the company to people, we often had to first explain the acronym, and then for those unfamiliar with East Africa, explain exactly what a “boda” is.
The second issue is that we wanted to position ourselves to expand, not just in geography, but possibly to other products that empower self-employed individuals. We still love boda bodas, and are very fond of the OYOB name, but decided trying to come up with something that could define us now and 10 years from now, in any number of markets, made more sense.
The naming process was not easy. As anyone who has gone through a rebranding (or home renovation) can tell you, letting go of things you’ve become familiar and comfortable with can be hard. Sigel+Gale asked if we had any ideas, came back with a brainstorming list of over 30 possibilities, and eventually, we chose Tugende. With even more help from the amazing S+G team, we eventually settled on our tag-line, Drive to Own, color scheme and awesome logo. Most of these speak for themselves, but why Tugende?
Tugende means “let’s go!” in Luganda, the most widely spoken local language in Uganda (there are dozens). Motorcycle taxis are most heavily used in the capital, Kampala, which besides English–used more by the well educated–is predominantly Luganda-speaking.
The message, “let’s go!,” matches our mission of helping jump-start our clients’ income, earnings and outlook for the future. Tugende also has a more direct connection to our love for motorcycle taxis. Climbing on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle is not only a suddenly intimate experience, it also takes a moment to get settled, find the optimal balance and place to hold on, rearrange your bag etc. When you are ready, you say Tugende, and the motorcycle takes off. Sometimes the driver asks first: “Tugende?” “Tugende,” you respond.
So Tugende allows us to communicate our brand in a way that is simple, one word, not confused with anything else, and authentic to our mission, origin, and key customers: drivers themselves. It also allows us room to grow beyond motorcycles and do what many brands we admire have done: make their name as identifiable with themselves as well as any origins (Where did Skype come from?).
Finally, you may notice our sweet new logo and visuals (again huge thanks to Sigel+Gale). The new Tugende brand has a “cool” factor that we hope will help us reach new audiences of great drivers, passengers who can recommend their great drivers, supporters, and potential funders. Check out some of our other designs below, and let us know your favorites. We hope to have awesome shirts and stickers available in Uganda and North America before too long.
So it is with proudness, not sadness, that we bid farewell to Own Your Own Boda. Thanks for reading this, for supporting us, and we hope you follow along on Tugende’s journey for years to come. As always, be in touch with ideas, concerns and favorite boda drivers.
–Michael and the Tugende team