From challenger brand to category pioneer

The predicament

Couchbase is the data engine behind entities as diverse as Pokemon Go, Sky and Tommy Hilfiger. Its strength is in connecting disparate bits of data really, really fast, at immense (global) scale to provide excellent digital customer experiences in real-time.

But while Couchbase was rated best in its category, it was only in 4th position for market share – for two main reasons:

Firstly, it’s difficult for coders to scale the steep learning curve that it takes to switch from one database technology to another, so inertia is quite understandable.

Secondly, while Couchbase solves real business problems (speed, scalability, manageability), it sold itself as a ‘NoSQL’ database – jargon that was only meaningful to techies. The owners of the business problems were simply excluded from its arcane world.

The breakthrough

First, we needed to show business people how Couchbase could help them offer truly revolutionary online experiences.

And for techies, we needed to turn Couchbase into an aspirational brand – the database for coders of superior digital experiences.

The first step was to redefine Couchbase as the first Engagement Database: making its purpose instantly clear to the people who needed it most while separating it from its competitors.

Next was to metaphorically dramatize its ability to create revolutionary experiences – in a highly impactful way.

Specific benefits were communicated in accessible and inspirational language, signing off with the tagline: “Start a Revolution”.


Industry analysts and commentators enthusiastically bought into the new ‘Engagement Database’ positioning. Back in May 2017, Gartner complained that Couchbase was invisible. Fast forward to October: “The energy at your event was amazing, from the content being delivered and the delivery itself.”

Office revamps and internal events made staff passionate supporters of the brand idea of “Start a Revolution”.

And spectacular imagery of stop-frame paint bursts created massive impact at events and selected media both online and offline.

From a senior member of the marketing team: “You achieved that agency nirvana of completely and seamlessly integrating with the client to be ‘one of the team’.”