5 Ways that Rebranding a Company is Like Planning an Email Campaign
In 2021 my company FreshAddress merged with TowerData; in May 2022 we announced our rebrand as AtData. As part of the rebranding effort, we created a new company story, rethinking what our company represents.
With all of the mergers and acquisitions in the marketing technology space over the last few years, I'm betting you have been part of a company rebrand yourself. Trust me, it's a once-in-a-career opportunity that also yielded a few insights into email marketing.
Why rebranding is like effective email marketing
People think rebranding is just picking a new name and tagline, designing a new logo and reprinting the company stationery. Email also gets the same short shrift. It's just a subject line, an image and a call to action, right? You throw it together, send it out to your list and go on to the next one.
Wrong on both counts! Any rebranding effort is more than a new name and logo; our rebranding effort was even more difficult than most because we were merging two companies, with overlapping and non-overlapping services.
Similarly, anybody who reads the Only Influencers blog knows successful email marketing takes strategy, planning, good data, strong creativity, and deep audience insights.
These are some of the lessons I learned from our rebranding that also apply to email (or vice versa, if you're an email-first marketer!).
1. Tell a good story.
The story is what interests people – your customers, prospects, even your competitors – and attracts them.
In email, your story can be your company story, or a story about customer successes, or a story about an employee that went above and beyond, or it could revolve around the products or services you sell. Your email campaigns can be individual chapters of that story.
They can extend into your messages to gain attention, help people understand who your company is, what makes it special and how it can help them solve problems or achieve their own goals. That's more compelling than an unending round of campaigns whose only message is "buy this."
In our company rebranding, we adopted the "Galvanizing Story" concept to tell the AtData story. A galvanizing story is "a clear, compelling, structured narrative at the heart of your brand that unites everything you do and say," according to its creator, Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners.
A galvanizing story has five main parts:
- The change in the world
- New potential
Just as your own email story is unique to your company, your galvanizing story is yours and yours alone. This five-part structure helps you structure your brand narrative for your internal use and guides both internal and external messaging, including email campaigns.
Discover your moment of truth: Our galvanizing story also helped us find our "moment of truth:" a simple, singular concept we use to understand the impact we have on our clients.
Our moment of truth, in AtData Chief Business Officer Phil Davis' words, is this: "Our clients capture first-party data, and they want to take great actions based on that data. We help make their first-party data better in a safe, secure way so they can maximize their ROI from their data. Everything we build [aims to] make that data more valuable."
Once again, that moment of truth can guide you in everything from a major rebrand to how you organize and act on your email strategy. It's a great tactic for a strategic planning session, too!
And, speaking of strategy ….
2. Everything flows from your strategy.
They say email is the one digital channel where even a crummy email marketing program can make money. But you'll make a lot more money if you develop and follow a strategy that's tied to your goals and objectives and then use email as a tactic to carry out that strategy.
That means every decision you make, from the messages you send to the marketing technology you buy, springs from a strategy. Your whole marketing program can go off the rails if you stray too far from the plan.
In a rebrand, design is an extension of company strategy. Ignoring your strategy can lead to major failures in the design phase, where you're developing new brand visualization through logo, colors, images, templates and more.
Dirk, our rebrand and design expert, commented on this link between strategy and design: "Design is always about being appropriate. It's not about being pretty. That links back to that blueprint derived from the strategy, the audience, the marketplace and where we want to take this product."
3. It's all about your customers, not you.
Whether we're talking about rebranding or email marketing, neither one is a popularity contest or a beauty pageant. The prettiest logo might not be the winner. The email copy you love might fall flat with your customers.
Your strategy should always be about how your customers will perceive you, whether it's their impressions of your newly merged company or how they trust or value your brand.
"If you can do this during [the rebranding] process, your whole decision-making process is a lot more educated and easier because you're eliminating the beast in the room, which is your personal preference," Dirk says.
Similarly, in email, you can't assume you know what your customers will like unless you ask them or, more reliably, unless you test a concept to see how they'll react. Testing helps you move past your own preferences or biases and learn what motivates your customers to act.
4. People have to grasp the concept quickly.
We recorded a "fireside chat" that takes a warts-and-all look at our rebranding process; it’s briskly paced but it still runs 43 minutes.
But we can't ask every AtData client or prospect to spend even 43 seconds trying to figure out what our new name means, why the colors transform from blue to purple in the logo or what they should expect from our new company.
Strategic, consistent storytelling at every touchpoint where we encounter a client or prospect and a strong customer focus across channels and in every communication can help customers understand and even buy in, especially when it centers on how they benefit from the change.
Your email customers need to decode your email value just as fast. They should be able to grasp in a second or two what they get in exchange for their email addresses and other data, how they benefit from subscribing and what to expect from your emails.
This instant recognition extends to your individual campaigns, too, starting in the inbox. Can they tell the email is from you and not some fraudster? Does the subject line tell them what's in the email? Do they know what you want them to do as soon as they open the email, and do they see the value of clicking on your CTA?
5. Get your technology in order.
Everything I've talked about so far has been pretty high concept. But here's where the rubber meets the road.
It doesn't matter whether you're talking about a rebrand or delivering the right email message to the right customers in the right channels at the right moment. If your technology fails, the whole thing falls apart.
We had a few "Oops!" moments with our back-end technology during the process to merge two sets of company systems. Plus, you'll have to watch the video to find out what happened when we started sending email using our new-to-us AtData.com domains.
For email, it's all about acquiring good data (accurate, up to date, authentic and permission-based data) keeping out bad data (fake or invalid addresses, typos, spamtraps, throwaways and more) and mitigating fraud and risk. Bad address data can sink your deliverability, mess up your automations and ruin your email ROI.
Creativity is intelligence having fun. And an essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. Good marketing essentials are the same - we all are emotional beings looking for relevance, context, and connection. Weaving that into your brand and messaging is key.
Watch the video to learn more
If you'd like to hear specific details about the rebrand directly from AtData CEO Tom Burke, President Brian Cardona, Chief Business Officer Phil Davis and branding/design expert Dirk Kammerzell, watch the recording. I'd also love to know what your own rebranding experiences have been: the good, the bad, and the "I can't believe I survived it" stories.