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Developing Transition Plan For Rebranding
12/3/2008 at 3:33 PM ET
We're a B2B document management provider. Currently our company is still pretty small although we have several large clients. The thing is, people generally do not get our name. They mispronounce it, shorten it or just look at me like I'm crazy.
Two years ago we developed our online document management software to work with our existing solutions. The product name is much more compelling and closer defines what we actually do, or what we aim to do for our clients - eliminate paper pushing by digitizing documents and automating business processes with workflow tools.
Now the first thing we weren't sure about was having product name and company name being one in the same. I still think we should add corporation for corporation and maybe "on-demand" for product. So if we were calling ourself ShortStop, then it would be ShortStop Corporation and ShortStop On-Demand for product. What say you?
The other thing I'm wondering about is brand transition. Our chief concern is making sure our clients are not confused and still recognize us along with potential customers. The logos for current company name and what we're changing to could not be any different. Different colors, different font, completely different look. Should would just add a tagline that says, "formerly known as BLOB" or add one of the colors from exisiting logo to new brand (like AT&T and Cingular) or add a portion of the name (like FedEx Kinkos however this worked for them because both names are short - neither of our names are short)
I know some companies take 4 years (FedEx Kinkos) before finally dropping the old brand but they're the big guys, we're not. Is there a certain time guideline to follow to keep reinforcing who we used to be? Also, what other things do I need to do to ease this transition? I've completed a press release and vendor/customer/partner announcement. Website domain change is also in progress as well as updating identity applications (brochures, flyers, etc)
As always, any feedback is greatly appreciated.
12/3/2008 at 3:58 PM
You have a B2B company with large clients. These clients are your source of business and main concern. Do they know your name and the products you offer? If they do you do not have a big problem. My advise is to make any name change gradually and that includes your logo unless you have a big business problem and need to make a dramatic change. From your description it does not sound as such. Make sure you get a good graphic designer with experience in cases like yours to guide you during the process which I insist should be gradual.
Hope this helps.
12/3/2008 at 4:09 PM
Brand Transition is a fairly methodical process and can take time. Think about it like you're trying to teach a new language. Libro and book are quite dissimilar. To get the "new" word into someone's mind, the first thing you do is place them side-by-side: Book: Libro. You say them both. Then you ad some images with them. Next, use them in a sentence with other words you know: Tengo uno libro rojo. You write the word. Etc. The idea is to use multiple exposures to drive the concept home.
The concept is the same in Brand Transition. The process is done in stages. For example, this could be executed with first, the new name is added subordinate to the old name. Next, the new name is promoted to equal. Then it's new name, old name subordinate. Finally, the old name is dropped. Press releases and vendor/customer/partner announcement - yes, these are a must! Each change requires ALL business cards, letterhead, brochures, website etc to be purged as the new ones are brought on. You don't want to have any conflicting material out there.
The reason why the "big" companies do it over time is because it takes a while for brand changes to "sink in." They take hold by multiple exposure over time. It has little to do with the size of the company or number of customers so much as the time to bring the change along.
Of course, if you believe you are so small and that you have promoted your brand so little that there are no mental image of the old name, then you don't have any concerns! Just switch. It won't affect anyone any way you do it. The decision to take the time and expense to do it "all the way" versus not worry about it depends on the dollar (pound, yen, etc) value you place on your brand image. If you have none, then the money to transition it won't pay back!
As far as a guideline on time - I've used six months per phase. However, that's not a cut and dried answer. A survey of customers would tell you how you're doing. See if they are making the association the right way and when they are, you can change to the next phase.
With respect to changing to your product name - OneStop with or without Corp and OneStop On Demand - your company name should reflect your long term strategy - who you want to be when you grow up. If your corporate strategy is to be a OneStop Source, then this would make sense. For your product name, consider where you go from OnDemand - does your product strategy include other products that aren't "on demand - like BackUp and OffSite?" Or will all the products be on demand such that you might look at OnDemand Manuals, OnDemand AccountRecords, OnDemand Production, and OnDemand Personnel. How will you handle upgrades in the future? OnDemand 1.0, OnDemand 2.0? These are considerations for choosing a names.
I hope this helps.
12/4/2008 at 7:52 PM
Wayde has given you good advice. The specifics of what you can and should do will depend to some degree on your name and product category, and the purchase cycle for your product/service. Generic advice is ... well, it's generic. And your situation is specific, not general.
You probably ought to engage a branding consultant to look at your specific situation, lay out the pros and cons of the various alternatives and make a recommendation.
Feel free to contact me offline if you want some recommendations.
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