From VChain to Zamna: what’s in a name? Our search for meaning on the road to rebrand.

Hello and welcome to our Medium page. It seems fitting that our first ever Medium post introduces the new name for our software company, and pays homage to the business formerly known as VChain.

Looking back:

VChain turned three years old in 2019. Without our investors, advisors and supporters — we would not be where we are today. Some of them backed us as early 2016, with nothing but the draft of a first patent, and a name on a piece of paper. I remember explaining to our very first investor that we came up with the name ‘VChain’ over a glass of wine, thinking that a clever combination of ‘v for verified’ and ‘chain for blockchain’ would do the trick. The rest, as they say, is history.

Looking forward:

For the past half a year, we have been working hard on a refresh of our brand to reflect the work we do. Serving global airlines and delivering projects to governments, we wanted to explore how we could preserve the essence of what made VChain a success thus far, whilst elevating the brand, look and feel — to reflect themore grown-up, venture-backed software business that we are today.

The issue:

Over time, we established that the name ‘VChain’ was:

a) difficult to adapt for different languages (it repeatedly failed the test of both spelling and pronunciation during our work in the Middle East this year — and didn’t work at all when speaking to potential clients in Asia);

b) the ‘chain’ element of the name put too much focus on blockchain;

c) overall, the feedback from clients and would-be clients was that it sounded rather… startup-y. Not representative of where we are, or what we are aiming for with the business.

The challenge:

In searching for a new name, we have undertaken a significant piece of work, researching over 9 different languages and cultures (including Javanese, Mesopotamian, Old English, Arabic, Sanskrit, Greek and Roman amongst others) in order to find a new name. It does help that our CEO, Irra, speaks 7+ languages, and our team hails from many different cultures which provided us with a rich ground of sharing insights and linguistic debates.

We established that the metrics for success in finding the new name were 7- fold. The word we would choose as a name would have to be:

1) easy to spell

2) easy to pronounce

3) neutral in gender

4) short (max 2 syllables)

5) composed of ‘clean’ vowels such as ‘a’ / ‘o’

6) composed of strong letters overall (think of the colours you would assign to letters in the alphabet.. almost everyone thinks of ‘a’ as red for example — there’s ample research on this, reflecting perceived ‘strength’ both for vowels and consonants)

7) a word with no current meaning — a word which we could therefore acquire, and imbue with meaning to such a degree that we can ‘own’ it

The answer:

The language and culture we found most fruitful is that of the Aztecs. As a dead language, it has many words which are not currently used in modern languages (of course, some Aztec legacy terms are to this day reflected in parts of Mexican Spanish). The chief deity of the ancient Aztecs was named ‘It-Zamna’ — equivalent to Greek Zeus, Roman Jupiter, or Nordic Thor. Interestingly, ‘Zamna’ also has strong meaning in Arabic / Urdu, meaning ‘Guaranteeing something’ — not just a good fit to VChain validating data, but a strong reference to the core of our product. Zamna is also a river in Serbia. And that’s about it — no other meaning is currently ascribed to this word, it’s simple, short enough with 2 syllables, has ‘strong’ vowels and consonants, and makes for an impactful sound.

The result:

We are now officially not VChain but Zamna. We love the clarity and the versatility of the word, and we hope you do, too. It could be a noun, or an adjective (eg: ‘this is zamna data’). It could also be a verb (‘to zamna’). It is both singular and plural, both masculine and feminine. It currently means nothing to most people, but has the hope and potential to mean… everything. At least, we think so.

Our new home will be and we look forward to the next stage of growth and tackling new challenges together as Team Zamna. We also have a new logo — and a meaning to the full stop at the end. Thanks for reading. Name change: done.

Zamna is an award-winning VC-backed software company building GDPR compliant identity platforms for the aviation industry.