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Am I a direct customer or an ISV?

Understanding whether you are a direct brand customer or an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) is important for United States A2P 10DLC onboarding, Toll-Free Verification submissions, and WhatsApp Business API setup and onboarding. 

For A2P 10DLC, when setting up your Primary Business Profile on Trust Hub, you will have the option to select whether you are a Direct or ISV customer. Twilio also provides different onboarding guides for direct brands and for ISV customers, as the processes are different.

For Toll-Free Verification submissions, as an ISV you would need to provide your client's business information instead of your own when filling each of those out, as described here. However, if you're instead a direct customer, you can jump right in here using your own business details.

For the WhatsApp Business API, Twilio provides different onboarding guides for direct brands and for ISV customers, as the processes are different. You can find these guides in the product docs here.

Article contents:

Definition of a direct brand customer

Your company sends messages for your own products and services.

For example, imagine a shoe company called CoolShoes. CoolShoes might let users sign up for marketing messages related to their products, send order updates to consumers who have ordered through the CoolShoes website, and so on.

If this describes your business (sending on behalf of yourself, rather than client businesses), you will follow our onboarding process for direct brands.

A direct brand customer could also have multiple brands that they own; for example CoolShoes might also have a T-shirt brand called CoolShirts. This would still qualify as a direct brand use case, since the two brands are operated by the same company – in this example, CoolShirts is a brand owned by CoolShoes, not a client.

Definition of an ISV (Independent Software Vendor)

As an ISV, your company provides messaging services to other businesses, who are represented by their own brands.

For example, imagine an ISV company called HotelTech Inc. who sells a technology platform for hotels. A hotel called SleepWell Inn uses the service. The hotel’s brand name (SleepWell Inn) appears in the messages, and a hotel visitor receiving those messages would think of the messaging as being between them and the hotel. The hotel visitor likely would not know that HotelTech is powering that interaction.

Still not sure if you’re a direct customer or ISV?

Depending on the nature of your business, it might still seem unclear which of these classification apply to you.

If you are still unsure, there are two key questions to consider.

Who do your end users (message recipients) think they are receiving messages from? Are they interacting with your brand/company, or your client’s brand?

If your end users are aware of your brand and think of their interaction as happening between them and your company, you are probably a Direct customer.

If your end users are not aware of your business, and they think they are interacting with your client directly, you are an ISV.

How much control do your clients/users have over the contents of the messages that are sent via your platform?

Templated messages with little to no control by your users

If you do messaging on behalf of others, but it’s template-based messaging with little to no customization or control by your clients, you may still classify yourself as a Direct customer.

For example, imagine an online event booking website called EventSite. Independent event organizers can sign up to publish their events on EventSite, and anyone can visit the EventSite website to browse and RSVP to those events. EventSite sends templated event reminders or notifications of changes relating to those events. EventSite would classify as a Direct customer. The independent event organizers use standard messaging functionality (e.g. templated reminder messages, RSVP confirmations) and aren’t able to customize the messages, aside from basic details like the event name and date.

Giving your clients/users the ability to customize messages sent from your platform

If you give your clients the ability to send messages on their own behalf (which end users would assume are originating from your client directly - see above) then you are an ISV.

Imagine another event-related business called PoweringEvents, which provides a platform to help other businesses (their clients) promote and communicate about their events. A car dealership called CarWorld uses PoweringEvents to send messages and emails related to their Cars & Coffee events. In turn, PoweringEvents uses Twilio behind-the-scenes to send those communications. CarWorld can use the PoweringEvents platform to write customized messages and send them whenever they want to, based on their needs.

The event attendees receiving messages about these Cars & Coffee events most likely do not know that CarWorld is a client of PoweringEvents; the messages that event attendees receive seem to come directly from CarWorld, and the contents are tailored to their event. This is a good example of a typical ISV model: PoweringEvents would register as an ISV customer, and they would create a Secondary Business Profile and A2P Brand and Campaign registration for their client CarWorld.


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