Top priorities for software companies navigating a rebrand

Top priorities for software companies navigating a rebrand

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | Eli Greenspan

Software companies that opt to pursue a rebrand have a unique set of logistics to consider when crafting their rebranding strategies. In some ways, their rebranding process is streamlined compared with organizations in other industries, such as consumer goods brands, manufacturing companies – and even other tech companies whose software offerings are housed in physical products. After all, software companies that deliver digital products don’t have to worry about transitioning many physical assets, such as products, packaging, signage, and fleet.

But software companies must nevertheless be strategic in how they choose to execute their rebrands. The goal is to achieve the highest impact for the right audience without causing confusion. So, you’ll need to identify the order in which branded touchpoints should be converted. (You’ll also need to develop a plan for funding and transitioning every instance of your brand—and that’s a big topic all by itself.)

Rebranding strategy: what makes software company branding different?

Software companies are unique in that their brand experience lives primarily with their consumers. There are few physical locations, very few physical branded assets, and almost no branded environments to speak of. In fact, the consumer’s entire experience of a software brand is often mediated through interactions with a phone, laptop, or other device.

The first step is still to take a complete inventory of all branded touchpoints that do exist in either digital or physical form. The full list is likely to be longer than you might expect and may include:

  • The software product or technology itself. The software itself may involve a high degree of complexity in terms of the branded elements that are found throughout the product. For example, a software company’s branding may be reflected in an app’s color palette, button styling, typefaces, and more. And of course, the name of one or more products might be changing in conjunction with the rebrand.
  • Physical marketing materials. Depending on how your product is advertised, this could include posters, flyers, retail store displays, and brochures. If you regularly attend trade shows and conferences, then this category also includes exhibition materials, such as banners, branded panels, pop-up displays, video presentations, handouts, and more.
  • Digital marketing materials. This may include branded templates, graphics, and other assets used on social media accounts, digital ads, app stores, and the product or brand website.
  • Tech support documentation and phone systems. Branded tech support assets may include digital FAQs, downloadables, printed instruction booklets, support message boards, and phone tree recordings.
  • Investor materials. This might include pitch decks, PDFs, video presentations, and more.
  • Internal branding. Internal branding extends to branded elements in office spaces, HR materials, and more.
  • Legal documents and contracts. When a software company changes brand names, that affects contracts with customers and suppliers, regulatory and tax filings, and more.

Software company rebrand planning: how to properly prioritize the conversion of branded touchpoints

The success of your software company’s rebrand will depend on your strategy for its execution. Follow these steps to craft the right plan for your organization.

1. Identify the main goal and primary audience of your rebrand. Why is your software company rebranding in the first place? What do you hope to achieve in refreshing or changing your brand? Once you isolate the primary goal for your rebrand, you should be able to identify the primary audience for it, as well. Those two pieces of information put together should dictate the order in which you transition branded touchpoints. For example, if your primary goal is to create a fresh look to drive investments for an upcoming IPO, then investors, not consumers, are your primary audience. In this case, you might prioritize exhibits, investor presentation materials, and press releases over consumer-facing marketing materials. If, on the other hand, your primary goal for rebranding is to revitalize and build your internal company culture, then your primary audience is your staff. In that scenario, internal-facing assets are your first priority.

2. Map your consumer’s user journey to prioritize activities. If your rebrand’s primary audience is your consumers, then your next step is to map their user journey. This exercise helps you to prioritize rebrand activities and ensures that you don’t let any branded touchpoints fall through the cracks. Start by documenting what drives new customer referrals and go from there. For example, your typical user journey may begin with targeted online advertisements, progress to a visit to the app store, and continue with the use of your product. The more granular you get in mapping your customer’s interactions with your brand, the more thorough your rebrand execution plan will be.

3. Take production lead times into consideration. Certain branded assets will require more time than others to be converted to the new brand. Once you identify your ideal sequencing for transitioning touchpoints, you’ll need to estimate how long it will take to transition each one. Start by transitioning those assets with the longest lead times well in advance. If you don’t, your big-picture plan may get derailed by production timelines.

4. Provide clarity and simplicity to avoid confusion. If you plan to roll out your rebrand over a period of time rather than launching on a single day, your prioritization needs to be governed with clarity and simplicity in mind. Your rebrand goals and primary audience should be the first lens through which you set priorities. Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure that you sequence your rebrand activities to minimize customer confusion and brand fragmentation. For example, you wouldn’t want your marketing materials to be out of sync with the icon that appears in the app store, not even for a short period of time.

5. Secure funding for rebranding up front. Identify where the money will come from to implement the rebrand. (If the rebrand is the result of a merger or divestiture, you may be able to roll some rebrand expenses into the deal cost.) Figure this out early on and it will be far easier to implement a fully funded and approved rebranding plan.

By arming yourself with the right plan, you can ensure that your software company’s rebrand is both smooth and successful.

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