Rebranding Isn't a Silver Bullet
Stephanie Cox: Welcome to Real Marketers, where we hear from marketers who move fast, ask forgiveness, not permission, obsess about driving results and are filled to the brim with crazy ideas and the guts to implement them. This is not a fireside chat and there's absolutely no bullshit allowed here. I'm host, Stephanie Cox. I have more than 15 years of marketing experience and I've pretty much done about everything in my career. I believe speed is better than perfection. I use the Oxford comma. I love Coca- Cola, have exceptionally high standards and surround myself with people who get shit done. On this show, my guests and I will push boundaries and share the real truths about marketing and empower you to become a real marketer. Welcome back. I'm excited to have a conversation with you again.
Connie Glover: Thank you. I am too.
Stephanie Cox: Tell us something about yourself that few know.
Connie Glover: This can be an annoying thing to people that are in my presence when something happens, but I think it's made for some great stories. I get starstruck and by starstruck, I mean anything from sports celebrities, to movie stars, to political figures, hated or loved, et cetera. I've probably met more celebrities than most regular people because if I have an opportunity to see someone or know where they're going to be, I have no problem just walking right on up and starting a conversation. I've met movie stars. I've met high profile political figures. I won't name any because I don't want to go there, but sports stars in all of the various sports, NBA, NFL, etc. it's been really fun. It's made for some pretty hilarious stories along the way.
Stephanie Cox: I've got to ask. Most famous person you've met?
Connie Glover: Well, I'm just going to say his name. I have met Donald Trump and had a 10- minute conversation with him. I have met Derek Jeter. I have met Bruce Willis and I have met the leader of my favorite band, The Counting Crows, whose name is Adam.
Stephanie Cox: Very cool.
Connie Glover: Among others.
Stephanie Cox: I was going to say we could talk about this forever, but let's talk about marketing. I'm excited to talk to you about branding, specifically rebranding. I think before we dive into a ton of questions, and about your perspective and when you should do it, if you should do it, et cetera. Let's maybe set the playing field first and say when you think of the idea of a rebrand, what comes to your mind initially?
Connie Glover: Well, when I think about a rebrand, I think about it in a holistic manner. It's everything from the logo to the main messaging phrase, which a lot of times is the tagline, to what you say on the landing page of your website. What most people think of is a logo change and that's not the complete part of rebranding. Many-
Stephanie Cox: So many people... I was going to say and so many people are obsessed with the logo change.
Connie Glover: So many people are obsessed with the logo change and then call it a rebrand. A, the first mistake is sometimes, many times, more often than not in my opinion, the logo change, but you can't just change the logo without having a brand story behind it and a story to tell that's relevant to what it is that you're trying to message out to your target audience. People will choose their graphical icon that represents their logo. They'll choose their font. They'll choose their colors. There may even be a thoughtful process that goes into that. They may be able to communicate that well, but many times, it's disruptive to the momentum that the organization has already been building and not necessary. I don't know why everybody thinks that they need to always be changing their logos and then hence, calling it a brand rebrand.
Stephanie Cox: I could talk for hours on the fact that how your logo is not a rebrand and I don't know why you spent so much time and money on doing it because guess what? No one else cared.
Connie Glover: Right. I have a couple of examples when we get to that part of the conversation.
Stephanie Cox: Let's think about, why would you say a company should do a rebrand in your opinion?
Many times, a company gets started and at its inception, they're not thinking about the marketing communication's main message and how they're going to present themself out to the market. They are building a product, and getting funding, and making sure that whatever it is, the product, the service, et cetera, is ready to sell. Many times, as it should be, it's getting a viable product to sell and that companies can use. They form a company, they put a name on it and it may or may not include a logo. Well, once a product or service is then going to market, then a lot of times, somebody in the organization, if they have a director of marketing at the time or if it's still the core group of people that started the company, they'll pause and think, okay, so now we've got to really focus on developing our message, our, brand, our strategy and how are we going to talk about this? How in the world and how we're going to get customers? Then sometimes, their original, oh my gosh, we just need a name of our company type of thing. It sounded good at the time, but I don't think it's going to work for what it is that we're really doing now that we know what it's. Sometimes the investors will encourage that, that they come up with something more relevant. If it's early on before the brand itself has taken hold and become very visible, then it could make good sense. As an example, the company that I'm with now is called Trava, T- R- A- V as in Victor, A. They're a cybersecurity company. When the company first started, then they name was Reef, R- E- E- F as in Frank, and didn't really speak to what the nature of the total solution package was. The company put a lot of thought into what they were going to name the company, why, the story they were going to be able to tell to support that, what the font represented, et cetera, et cetera. Came up with Trava, which is the Italian word for truss, which is the building world, something that supports a building. It made sense at the time and they did it at the beginning when they launched product. Whatever the old company was called was not visible yet. They went to market with a story pretty soon out of the gate. I get that. Here's an example on the opposite side. You and I are members of what started off as an organization called the Revenue Collective, which is a collection of professionals in companies that are focused on growing revenue. Whether it's marketing professionals, whether it's sales leaders, et cetera, those of us that are in the trenches, making sales happen and creating revenues for our organizations. That is what this collective group is about. I love it. I know you love it. I love our Wednesday morning marketing talks. When I tell people about the Revenue Collective, I didn't have to say much more than the name. It said exactly who we were exactly, what we were about, what we represented. One day, I had an email, welcome to our new brand, Pavilion. I'm going, "What?" There was a new logo and it was a triangle. There was a long message from the founder about why they changed the name and everybody coming under one roof. I don't know, fine, but a pavilion is so generic. It could be the name of anything, anything literally, including a concert venue. I kind of get the story, but it was not nearly as impactful as what the original name was. It didn't say and was clear who they were, what they did and it doesn't always have to. I mean, I get it, that names are fun and catchy and want to be memorable, but this was a case where I didn't get the rebranding. They clearly didn't ask any of us in the group, Stephanie, because we chatted about this on one of our Wednesday morning meetings and we were all going, "Did they ask the marketing for marketers group about it?" Anyway, that was a case where, in my opinion, I don't feel like it made sense. Now, could they have put together a different type of logo? Maybe, but this was a complete rebrand. This was changing the name, and the logo and visually what it said and meant. Now, the story makes sense once you read two paragraphs about it, but Revenue Collective said what it was as right off the bat. I was sad about that rebranding.
I was going to say the same thing. I completely get it and I think it's a conversation a lot of marketers have had when you think about rebranding. You don't enter it into it lightly. There's usually a reason internally that you feel the need to do it because of what's happening in the market, your business has evolved, et cetera. What's crazy is sometimes when you do it and you create a different company name, or even just a different category name to make yourself seem bigger and to enter into this new world, you lose all of the traction that you had with your previous name. I think what you're explaining is a great example because before if I said Revenue Collective, it was like, "Oh, that makes sense." While I get the idea behind Pavilion and it being broader, having non-revenue groups inside it, it also requires a conversation now. I think you've seen it with brands like Drift. They started in that conversational marketing category that they created and now they've changed their kind of category even to revenue acceleration, which is... Yes, but can't everything be that? What does that mean? It's not even, I think about branding-
Connie Glover: It's what we're doing in the Revenue Collective, formally Revenue Collection.
Stephanie Cox: Right. I feel like we're in a circle of hell of rebrands sometimes because you do it to reposition yourself, but then you also oftentimes, especially when you do it to make yourself seem bigger, you lose the connotation that came automatically. If I have to explain who you are, especially your category and explain what it means, you've missed the mark.
Exactly. I feel like too many companies are mistaking rebranding for the opportunity to either approach a new type of customer or, again, like you were saying, establish themselves in a new space, but they're losing the intent of their business. If the intent of their business is changing then, okay, maybe, but that's giant if somebody's going to shift the entire intention of their business. I'm big on intent. That's my favorite word that is in my head. It drives everything I do in terms of marketing, communication, branding and PR. Look at the intent first and foremost. What are you trying to accomplish? What are you trying to say? What reaction are you trying to get? What call to action are you hoping to achieve? What are you trying to accomplish with the new logo, et cetera? Always go back to the intent. I feel like sometimes it's just an exercise. Maybe somebody wants a fresh look and that's fine, but make sure that there is the original intent behind it and that it doesn't interrupt your momentum. It's especially important for new companies that are trying to establish themselves. It takes a long time to get momentum. It's the flywheel concept by Jim Collins. You start off, you do one thing, you do it really well. You are successful at that. You start building, and then you do the next thing and the next thing. The more that you are building upon the previous thing, the flywheel starts turning and then you gain momentum faster and faster. It's like the snowball effect, but if you interrupt that at a critical stage in your business, and then people have to kind of stop, pause, think for a second. Everything is moving so fast in our world and businesses are trying so hard to keep up. Why would you want to interrupt that? Revenue Collective to Pavilion is one example on a small scale. There's some more giant examples. In the case of The Gap. For some of our younger listeners, they may not remember this because it was about 10 years ago, but The Gap is one of the most recognizable brands and their logo and their word mark are representative of the brand itself. That's one of those where you look at the word Gap and that's also their logo. It became even more cemented when The Social Network movie came out and we were all reminded about Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, and his Gap sweatshirt. Somewhere along the line, The Gap decided to rebrand and their logo... Go look it up. Go look up Gap logo from 2010. It was awful. I don't know what font they used, but it was a sans serif. Probably looked like Arial, like a very common, very diluted... It was so plain. The first thought was why? Why? Why'd they do that? They had one of the most recognizable brands probably in the world, but definitely in the United States. Why did they do that in the first place? What was the intention? What was the reason? It lasted a week.
Stephanie Cox: I was going to say this is where I had my....This is where I have my snarky response. My snarky response was did they hire a new CMO three months before? Because that feels like a thing that a lot of new marketing leaders do, which is, "Oh, we're going to have to do a whole rebrand."
Connie Glover: We need to rebrand. All of you CEOs out there that are hiring new CMOs or new marketing leaders, if that's what they come at you with, either in the interview process or their first thing to do, their first initiative out of the gate, it was the wrong hire. I'm going to say that's probably true most of the time and if it's not true some of the time, it's very, very few cases.
Stephanie Cox: I could not agree more. It's 100% accurate because it's true. That's what happens. A lot of new marketing leaders come in and they're like, "Oh, the messaging's bad. I don't like the logo. I don't like the brand design. I want to create different experience." Their first action is, "I'm going to redo the brand, redo the website." I'm like maybe there are companies where that is actually needed, but oftentimes can't you figure out what is working and isn't working and perhaps it's not the logo.
Connie Glover: Right. Now, I have seen instances, a couple of roles that I've had ago, the company had a logo that looked very, very dated and was not relevant to what their company did. They did do a rebrand of the logo. That was a different story because they didn't do their homework in terms of similar logos and copyrights, and et cetera on the actual design of it. Once they finally had a new logo, it did speak more clearly to what the company did and it was fine in the color scheme change. It did need a refresh and an update. It took one email and some social media posts to talk about the story behind the new logo, but it wasn't a rebrand, so to speak. That was fine. I would like to bring up an example before we get back to the please stop with the rebranding and getting new logos conversation. Because there's so few and far between, Stephanie, it rarely works, I'd like to bring up an example of a case where rebranding, in my opinion, worked. Very recently, this year, the city of Los Angeles rebranded. New logo and new design, whole new look and feel. If you look up the LA Times article about the new city of Los Angeles logo, for our listeners and for you, you will see it. I feel like this is a case where rebranding was done exactly right. There's always controversy. There are some people, I'm sure, in Los Angeles that are going to hate it and some that are going to love it, but I felt like this was a case where it was exactly right because the old Los Angeles logo was pretty bland and basic and it was dated. The city of Los Angeles, love it or hate it, is a city of vibrancy, and culture and diversity. It's also part of the state of California, so there's the beach element and the lifestyle element and all of that. Their new logo is colorful. There's a subtle nod to the rainbow, representing the diverse, different types of lifestyles and cultures. The sun is represented over the horizon, which represents where they are, and the beach element and the lifestyle element. It's kind of retro, which you sometimes think about when you're thinking about old Hollywood. I just feel like they a beautiful job and it's going to represent the city as the city wants to be represented for years and years. In my opinion, they may never have to do this again. That's one of those rare instances, in my opinion again, that I feel like the rebranding were is timely, and it worked and it's better and the story's better. That's a one in a million case.
Stephanie Cox: I feel like those are far and few between.
Connie Glover: So far and few between.
Stephanie Cox: What do you think is causing so many marketers to get, "Oh, we're not driving the results we want. A rebrand will fix this." Where does that come from?
Well, I can only speculate, but here's one thing that may be happening. As you know, and as every marker listening to this podcast knows, especially in the technology space or the SaaS space that we're in, it's getting noisier and noisier. I hope that's a word, but I feel like if it's not, it should be. It is getting noisier and noisier out there. Sometimes I feel like when I'm putting out email campaigns, or email nurture sequences, or writing a press release or whatever content marketing that I'm doing, I feel like I'm saying the same things that I said in previous companies, or I feel like I'm saying the same thing that everybody else is. I'm trying as hard as I can to make it seem different. Not to brag or pat myself on the back, but I feel like I'm pretty good at what I do. I'm a master storyteller. I can usually write something impactful and sometimes I feel like 90% of what I'm doing is getting lost. What may be happening is that marketers come in and go, "Okay, we need to talk about something different and we need to do something where we can get some immediate attention. If we rebrand, I can put a press release out about it because that's news. If I rebrand, it's going to look different and I have something else to write to all of my databases about and have a different story to tell." It may be that because it's something that's visual and marketers may think that, "Okay, well this is something different that maybe everybody will sit up and take notice about." Okay, maybe for four seconds, but you've got to sit there and go, "Who cares?" There's always got to be that who cares, so what factor. Maybe somebody will read it and go... Then move onto the next thing. Then what did you really accomplish? Because it is not cheap to rebrand and it's very time-consuming.
So much time, so much money, and for what oftentimes? Unless you're really, really needing to. Let's say you're not a marketing leader and you work for a marketing leader who wants to go down this path. Is there anything that you can help do to sway them off of it or to help them better understand why this is it a great idea?
Connie Glover: Going back to my whole motivation in life, which is intent. I'm a pretty direct speaker, so I would be probably pretty direct in my approach, but however that you're comfortable with having these conversations, go back to the intent. The first question to them, I would say is what is our primary intent in marketing? It is to bring qualified, not to overuse that word, interested opportunities for closed deals in the door. There is a lot that goes into that. There's giant plants centered around that. Going back to the original intent of what the Revenue Collective Group was, it is to drive revenues in our organizations. We are responsible about this. I talked about this on the last segment that you and I did together. We are as responsible for driving revenue into our organizations as sales. We are and that's the way it is right now, and that is what we have to focus on in as exciting and compelling a way as we can. My first question would be if that's our intent, is a new logo or rebranding, or even changing the name of our company going to help that? If they can honestly say yes, really? Tell me why. Because I guarantee you, there's going to be probably a few moments of silence unless you can really say, confidently, how that's going to help drive opportunities for sales in your organization. They may think it's visibility for a hot second, but that's about as far as it will go because I don't think they'd be able to answer that question. What do you think?
Stephanie Cox: I mean, you're 100% right? I think what would end up happening is they'd be... I'm being maybe a little snarky tonight, but... let's defer to the agency. The agency's done a lot of research on why we need to rebrand. Guess what? Every agency is going to tell you to rebrand.
Connie Glover: It's big money for agencies.
Stephanie Cox: Big money. I think that's a great point of what you're saying, like asking the questions. I think the other thing that's really important too is by the time you, as a marketing leader are sick of your messaging, people are just now paying attention. I think that's something that has resonated with me for so long is by the time you're sick of the brand, the logo, the way you talk about stuff, that probably means it's been enough time where the actual audience that you're trying to target is now paying attention to you. It's funny because I feel like at that point, that's where a lot of marketers want to go down the path of rebrand. They're sick of seeing it. They think it's not working anymore. It's hilarious to me.
Connie Glover: But as we keep saying, as we've already driven home so far in our conversation, that's not the problem. It's rarely a problem.
Stephanie Cox: Why do you think so many people think it is? Why have we gotten this ingrained in our head? Does it go back to the earlier days of marketing and advertising? Why is that like the thing we want to fix?
Connie Glover: I'm just going to say it, it's easy. It's easy to go there.
Stephanie Cox: It also has no numbers tied to it, which is the other thing that I think of a lot is-
Connie Glover: If there's no numbers tied to it, then you shouldn't be doing it.
Stephanie Cox: Well, and that's my point, but that's why I think a lot of people go to it is because there are no numbers tied to it so it's easy to say, "Well, oh, this is what's not working," but it also makes it almost impossible to measure that changing it did work
Connie Glover: Don't let me forget to go back to your question, but again, the role of marketing has evolved. Everything we do should be measured, tracked, measured, and we should be able to explain for every dollar that we invest, what we're getting back. You can't do that with a new logo because I guarantee you if you spend however many tens of thousands of dollars, particularly if you're using an agency, it should be like anything else. You've got to be able to prove that that generated a whole lot of new interest in your company and brought in a whole lot of new people going, "Oh yeah, I want get a demo or attend your next webinar, or see more about what you have going on and look around your website or read a blog." Can you prove that it's going to do that? There's that aspect. Going back to your question and then your speculation, I agree with you because up until recently, and I love the thought of the Mad Men days when advertising was the coolest job. It was called advertising back then because that's all that it was. Everything you did was visible and on a bigger scale, like billboards and television. Your brand was, it was so everything to who you were and what you were doing. You couldn't make a mistake. It was all you did was do things that were visible and easy to see, and you weren't measuring anything back then. How did anybody know back then? Marketers are getting very sophisticated now and they can track stuff, but back in the day when you spent your million bucks on your super bowl add, did you really know if you were getting additional sales because of it? Now, we have to measure, but you got one mindset from back then in terms of oh, this is what people see so this is, what's making our business go, to we got to measure it. If we're putting money in, we've got to get money back. It's a conflict, I believe because we naturally... We're marketers. We didn't get into this business to build spreadsheets and have to explain an ROI. We got into it because we are creative people that want to produce interesting, compelling, beautiful, provocative things. It's no fun doing what we have to do now. The fun stuff is stuff like rebranding, so it may just be that simple. We may need to get different people involved in marketing now, and people that are more analytical and people that are more financially- oriented. I feel sad because the things that make your story interesting and compelling, that's what we do, but people are caring less about that and more about what kind of dollars we're going to be then directly responsible for.
Stephanie Cox: Last question for you. If you had to tell all marketers in the world one thing about rebrands that they have to pay attention to, what would it be?
Stay true to your intention and stay true to what your mission is in your organization. If rebranding, whether it's changing your logo, or changing the name of your company and the logo and giving yourself a whole new look is not going to contribute to the goals of your company and you can't prove it, it's likely not necessary. If you're going to do it, then make sure it's going to be long-lasting. Make sure that it's timely. Make sure it's not going to interrupt the momentum that you have gained in driving visibility towards your business in the marketplace, and do it like the city of Los Angeles did it, not like how The Gap did it?
Stephanie Cox: You've been listening to Real Marketers. If you love what you've heard, make sure to subscribe, rate and review our podcast. Don't forget to tell a friend. All of this marketing goodness shouldn't be kept a secret.
There's a time and a place for a rebrand. But changing the organization's logo isn't the silver bullet we think it is.
In this episode, we're welcoming back Connie Glover, Senior Marketing Manager at Trava, and Principal Owner of CMarie Marketing Studio. Connie is an accomplished marketing communications, PR, and sales leader who has an impressive career bringing visibility to companies and brands to life.
We're talking about why logos aren't exactly a rebrand, examples of good rebrands (and ones that missed the mark), how to determine when you should rebrand, and so much more.