What's In A Name: Five Things To Consider When Rebranding A Digital Company
In 2013, Wim Torfs and I founded MoveSouq, an online marketplace helping Dubai residents book and get quotes for home services. We had noticed that there was no transparency in the market when it came to finding trusted home services companies- there wasn't a single place then where you could find these companies easily or read reviews on the quality of the services they provide. We initially focused on moving services, but after a very positive response from residents, we started adding more and more services to the site. The website now offers 25 services, including cleaning, painting, maintenance, and home and car insurance and is available in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Doha, in addition to Dubai.
We recently took the bold move to rebrand ourselves to ServiceMarket. Rebranding a digital company is not a simple task, but one that takes months of research and careful planning; we started the process over a year ago. If you're planning to rebrand your online business, then you will need to develop a comprehensive rebranding plan, which should include the following five key elements:
1. Define your ambition and brand identity
It is important to take the time to develop the concept behind your new brand identity- this is not an element that you should rush. Write down all the reasons for doing the rebrand and the main things you aim to achieve, and share these with your team. Set aside a considerable amount of time in your rebranding plan to spend on developing your new brand identity and choosing a name that will reflect it. Although brainstorming your own ideas is a great place to start, remember that you need to choose a brand that your target market will love. Come up with a few ideas and then test these on your target audience through some market research. Once you have developed your new brand, you need to make sure all employees are familiar with it. It is a good idea to put together a branding guideline book for everyone to read through.
2. Designing and planning the change
We started the rebranding process a year before the actual switch. You will need to put aside time to research each element of the rebrand and read through case studies. It's important to create a detailed plan for absolutely everything; from how you will transfer the site to the new domain to how you will manage your social media accounts. For an online business, some elements you will need to consider include:
Operations You will need to plan for a smooth transition of all operational elements such as: email addresses, call center scripts, customer service portals and any help desk chat systems. Since you are probably going to change staff email addresses, all external accounts linked to these will also need to be updated.
On-site For the actual website, you will need to research and plan for the best way to transition all site functionality seamlessly to a new domain, while minimizing impact to the site traffic.
SEO and website performance While some loss in traffic immediately following the rebrand is inevitable, it is important to do your research and take steps to ensure that the PageRank you built up over the years is correctly transferred, and not lost. Part of this is adding the correct redirection to all pages so that search engines recognize that this is a migration and not duplicated content.
Social media As part of your rebrand strategy, you will need to plan for the transition of all social media accounts. This includes changing account handles and usernames, changing all advert assets, and moving and reconfiguring ad accounts. If you have a social media following, then you will not want to lose your account history. We worked closely with reps from Google and Facebook so that we could keep our account history and suffer minimal loss in terms of the quality scores.
3. Managing the change
It is important to realize that rebranding is not a simple procedure. Pulling off a successful rebrand will take months of work and will undoubtedly involve all employees in one way or another. It is therefore essential to have very close project management and set well-defined roles and responsibilities for each department and each employee. A project management plan should be one of the first things you consider when developing your rebranding strategy because staying on top of all projects and tasks is crucial to ensure that the rebrand goes smoothly. At ServiceMarket, we created a detailed rebrand tracker sheet, which everyone in the company had access to, to keep on top of all tasks and monitor progress efficiently. All tasks had set deadlines and individual responsibilities outlined. We also had regular progress meetings, at least once a week, in which we went through the rebrand tracker sheet to speak about how everything was progressing and highlight and problem solve any issues as they arose.
4. Communicating the change
Communicating the change effectively to all stakeholders is essential to ensure a smooth transition. You will need to develop a communication plan that takes into consideration all key stakeholders. In our case, this included our investors, our customers and our service partners.
You will need to make sure that your investors are all aware of the rebrand and understand the reasons for doing it. This is a discussion that you should have very early on to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
A good communication plan for customers will prevent loss of brand recognition and retain users. The plan will need to have a strategy for the weeks leading up to the rebrand and a plan for the weeks following the rebrand. Pre-launch, you will need to make customers aware that there is a change coming and, ideally, create a bit of curiosity and excitement. Immediately after the rebrand, it is essential to make customers aware of the change as well as the reasons behind it. You will also need a customer support plan in place for after the rebrand in case of any questions.
It is essential that all suppliers fully understand why you have rebranded and the impact this will have on them. We recommend discussing the rebrand with all partners before the launch day to ensure that everyone is comfortable with the change. We developed a FAQ sheet which covered all the main points related to the rebrand. We also called up our suppliers to explain when, how and why we were rebranding and to answer any questions they may have. Where possible, we met with our top partners in person to talk them through the rebrand in detail.
5. Owning the brand
After the rebrand you will need to focus on marketing and building brand awareness, and therefore, creating a detailed plan for marketing initiatives is essential. This plan should include both onsite and offsite marketing campaigns. You will also need to update logos and brand details on all existing marketing materials, including business cards, email signatures and any live ads. It is a good idea to create a detailed brand guideline document to share with everyone involved to make sure that they are familiar with how to use the new logo and branding elements. Although rebranding involves a lot of work, creating detailed plans for all these elements, along with thorough research, should ensure that you have a smooth transition to your new brand.