Brand is a key centrepiece of any company. A great brand will often go unnoticed but is always recognizable. A not-so-great brand will be notorious for all the wrong reasons. When I work with a new company, my first audits in marketing focus on the brand and website. It becomes a lot easier to understand the “why” behind what is working or not with the current marketing undertakings when you review the existing brand and website to determine how it is resonating and performing.
When I was working with an amazing publicly-traded company, the gaps in the brand and website felt apparent by how it was recognized internally and externally. This company had been a stronghold for 25 years so a rebrand was set to be a tricky but truly exciting undertaking. Brand is incredibly subjective and even with an overtly objective, by-the-book design, and the best-intentioned goals in mind, rebrands can be met with disdain. Brands, especially those with clout and longevity, house nostalgia for those who have associated with the company for a long time. In this case, it was important to keep nostalgia in mind when recreating the new brand but also serve the various audiences and project stakeholders.
Rebranding should not be undertaken or accomplished without goals in mind. With this organization, the key stakeholders of the rebrand:
- Marketing: The need to market the company itself within the tech industry, to its customers and partners, and serve its sub-brands had to be reflected in the brand and new website.
- Hiring: With the need to attract and retain top talent in the highly competitive tech market, the brand needed to appear modern, exciting, and the website needed to show the benefits and values of the company.
- Board: Public companies have a fiduciary duty to publish calls, reporting, and other information to their website regularly. It had to continue to be easy for this information to be published.
- Nostalgia: Paying homage to the origins of the company and serving those who had known the company the longest, the website had to provide information on history, links to the original brands, and the rebrand had to be sensitive of change.
Rallying the executive leadership team around the rebrand
It's important to discover if the need to rebrand exists beyond your personal biases and gather support in order to undergo the process. With hiring being a challenge and the existing website being a blocker to achieving applicant goals, the People team were the first to be approached and presented to by myself and another person.
The People team wanted a brand and website that resonated with top tech talent and highlighted our company values. They offered important insights on their drop-off rates with their current job application traffic, which sat incredibly high on mobile users. I was surprised to learn about job applicants via mobile - a market I wouldn’t have considered as I had personally never applied for a job using my phone (an example of how bias can impact your strategy!). Mobile applications surpassed desktop in 2020 and according to an Appcast analysis of 7 million applications across nearly 1,300 U.S. employers, mobile applications made up roughly 61% of all applications. Making the switch to a mobile-friendly and responsive application process in 2019 has likely had long-term impacts on the company to this day.
With the important encouragement and support from the People function and their stake in the rebrand and website outlined, the next step was to rally the rest of the leadership team. After a presentation on how to proceed, there was an agreement to move forward with a rebrand and new website.
Later, I pursued agencies to better understand a budget and what could be accomplished. After presenting options from agencies, their ideas for us didn’t resonate or have our internal understanding of the company so there was a huge push from incredible team members across various sub-brands to get involved. The rebrand became a big, internal feat that involved talented designers, content, production, communications, leadership, and other team members.
Relaunching a 25 year old brand into the modern tech industry
Throughout the process, the rebrand and new website was consistently presented to users through UserTesting by the UX team, where its positive brand affinity jumped from 60% to 90% post-rebrand. The number of people hired 2X’ed, as well. Beyond that, the website became easier to share and navigate, encouraging employees and others to share content, job postings, and the brand itself to build up a strong social presence.
Planning and leading the rebrand and being part of such an impactful project during my tenure at this company has stuck with me during my career. It was a lesson in listening to multiple stakeholders in a project to ensure bias is eliminated and the best outcomes can be achieved. It also taught me that marketing does not solely own a brand or website. There are many key people involved, internally and externally, that have an important say in a company’s brand and website. Rebranding Tucows and being part of our unofficial rebrand team was a highlight of my time there and allowed me to work closely with the People, Design, Communications, Product, Leadership, and other teams that I normally would not have interacted with in my content function under a sub-brand. When it was time to bring the rebrand to the internal brand, there was already a team of us in place excited to take this challenge on, too.