Rebranding Tech Companies: 3 Truths to Inspire Your Path
Twenty years ago, Andersen Consulting – one of the largest consulting firms in the world – announced it would rename the company to Accenture. Driven by an urgent need to create a distinct identity after splitting from Arthur Andersen, the renaming effort was led by the firm’s global marketing team by first surveying their 65,000 employees for ideas, then paring down thousands of submissions to a “short” list of 50 finalists. Law firms in 49 countries then conducted more than 3,000 trademark searches to rule out conflicts and ensure ownability.
Can you guess Andersen Consulting’s time span to conceptualize, research and select Accenture as their new moniker? From start to finish, the process took three months – a breathtakingly brief amount of time given the size of the company and the complexity of communications they faced in the months ahead.
Hopefully this story inspires your own rebrand and provides some sense of relief that it doesn’t have to be a years-long distraction. If you’re reading this, you probably know some level of change is needed, and you may be feeling unsure of how to initiate it..
Rebranding is one of Spring Marketing Group’s cornerstone services. This year alone, we’ve led four client rebrands and assisted with two others. So what have we learned in our two decades of experience of personally naming (or renaming), branding (or rebranding), and designing (or revitalizing) the visual identities of lean, fast-moving B2B tech and professional services companies?
Here are three takeaways – let’s call them truths – to help you consider your own path.
Truth #1: You know deep down it must be done.
When it’s time to rebrand, it’s probably past due. Because by the time you get serious about it, strategic change has been on your mind not just for months, but possibly years. Fortunately, by facing this truth, you’ll not only fix some fundamental business issues, but it won’t nag your subconscious anymore.
There are valid reasons why your mind was under siege. Here are concrete signs when it’s time to rebrand:
- Your revenue is starting to stagnate.
- You are not attracting the right caliber of talent.
- Your core offerings have evolved over time, muddling your messaging and positioning.
- Your people are unclear about your company’s purpose.
- Your website isn’t working hard enough – content is outdated; traffic isn’t converting to leads; your company doesn’t appear in search results.
- Your company name simply no longer works.
On the last point, how does a name stop working? For one client, the realization became evident over time. For decades, they operated successfully under a name that reflected their core values. They had excellent relationships with customers and employees were proud of their brand.
But over the years, other companies – including a few competitors – encroached on the name, claiming very similar versions. Our client started having a tough time differentiating themselves at recruiting events; sometimes their customers and new hire candidates phoned or researched the wrong company online. Confusion and frustration mounted over a number of years before they partnered with us to help rename, rebrand and relaunch their website. In four months’ time, they had a new corporate name that reflects their original one in an innovative and ownable way.
One year later, our client reports that business is thriving and so is the quality of recruits. So if your instincts say it’s time, it pays to listen.
Truth #2: You imagine a world of pain. But tangible benefits lie ahead.
If you’ve never gone through a rebrand before, it can feel overwhelming. Unlike Accenture, most tech companies don’t have a global marketing team to lead corporate branding efforts – in fact, many of our clients don’t have any marketers on staff. You may also doubt whether the investment will pay off (but rest assured: it won’t be anywhere near the reported $100 million for a new logo and visual identity that Accenture reportedly paid).
A study by Forrester Consulting and Adobe shows that 82% of businesses believe that thinking and acting creatively leads to tangible business outcomes. “Companies that embrace creativity
outperform peers and competitors on key business performance indicators, including revenue growth, market share, and talent acquisition. They enjoy a high performance working environment, driven by progressive leaders and managers who provide processes, methods, and funding to back creative initiatives,” the report states.
This is where experienced marketers can help you clarify your brand purpose and reimagine everything that stems from it – from value proposition and positioning, to a new visual identity and digital presence – to support your business objectives. Most importantly, a rebrand is not just a glossy makeover – it provides a playbook to walk your talk, authentically.
Let’s use a popular consumer brand example. When Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded as Dunkin’ in 2018, it invested millions of dollars in an effort to reclaim dominance of the coffee on-the-go market. Their goals were to attract new customers and boost sales. Dunkin’s modernized look and feel and massive media campaigns were backed by redesigned stores, sweeping product enhancements, and digital engagement to bring new and former customers back to the brand in droves. It worked – within one year, the iconic donut brand saw immediate gains from its investment and faster growth than expected in 2020 despite the pandemic.
To get started on your own journey, ask your network for referrals. Word of mouth is reliable for a reason – hearing a good experience from a trusted source can immediately broaden your understanding and offer a sense of relief that others successfully revitalized their names and brands, with positive things to say about their partner.
Truth #3: Rebranding is just another process. It works when done right.
You don’t need an army of marketing muscle to realize gains from rebrands like Accenture and Dunkin’. Each company we’ve worked with, from seed to Series B, has achieved their defined goals from rebranding.
We once worked with a maturing technology startup that outgrew its founding name fairly quickly. As we began working together, one of their executives told us, “we may be very challenging to work with. It’s hard to drive consensus on our team.” They had several strong personalities at the C-level. But this isn’t unusual – it’s common for founders to have strong opinions.
Fortunately, Spring Marketing’s focus on tech brands means that we have a process in place to guide discussions and the creative process with predictable results. Our method of gathering information, digging deep, and iterating a client’s new narrative – then articulating it visually and introducing it to the world – usually takes just a few months. And while it doesn’t require a massive investment, it does call for a budget, some of your time, and trust that a 12-to-16-week effort (on average) will fuel years of growth.
Rebranding empowers organizations to stop and reevaluate why they exist. It’s a chance to give everyone a role in creating a purpose-driven future and rallies the team to think about and act upon your values, mission and goals. Getting clarity on these alone is worthwhile. A sparkling new look makes it even better.