There are many young SaaS rebranders out there that have found themselves in a position similar to this:
They pour their hearts into building and branding their SaaS startup, getting the word out and generally growing an audience. They’ve established a unique identity for themselves and crafted something to help them stand out in the crowded SaaS marketplace. And then…they realize that they need to make significant changes to their SaaS business.
Perhaps they need to do a complete pivot, or perhaps the product has grown beyond what their initial thoughts were – either way, they’re now left wondering how to pull off a rebranding of the company.
What should they do? Let’s take a look at a few strategies for pulling off a rebrand.
When Is a SaaS Rebrand Necessary?
There are some companies out there who carry on in much the same fashion as they did when they started up. Those companies probably began life with a very clear mission for the business, a vision that team members and investors could get behind and a pathway to growth and expansion that was clear from the beginning.
We’d venture to say that those companies are not in the majority. Most startups we see tend to work through several iterations, discover new product segments or find that they have a lot more to offer than they first thought. Some will even go through a complete pivot, starting out life as one thing, but going off that idea to focus on something else.
Rebranding is necessary when the brand you started out as no longer serves the mission you’re going forward with. You may need to adjust how you think about yourselves and how customers and people looking from the outside will view you.
Typical scenarios which lead to a SaaS rebrand might include:
- The product started out with a particular function, but has expanded to cover many more. For example, if your SaaS startup began life as an email management tool, but expanded to cover a broad range of CRM applications. In this case it would make sense to rebrand as a CRM if your initial branding is all email-focused. Consider the case of Conversio, which was rebranded from their original name, Receiptful, because they had expanded to cover a range of ecommerce marketing tools, but their original name pigeon-holed them to receipts.
- The branding strategy has always focused on certain industries or verticals, but the company finds over time that they have actually expanded to different industries and verticals as part of their target market.
- The branding of your company’s SaaS software applications has always targeted a certain customer size. For example, small business owners or freelancers, but with expanded capabilities over time, the company would like to target a wider variety of customers.
- The company discovers over time that the problem they thought they were going to solve is not the most pressing issue for customers, or there is simply too much competition in that particular segment. They decide to pivot to a problem that is more pressing and/or has less competition in the space.
- There has been an ownership change or restructure and a strategic change in direction.
- There have been some reputational issues and the company is effectively looking for a fresh start.
- The rebrand has been deemed necessary for entering international markets. Airbnb’s 2014 rebrand is an example; the brand name stayed the same but they did a complete overhaul in other areas of branding.
The short of it is, a SaaS rebrand may be necessary to attract the audience you wish to have and to send the right messages out.
Strategies for Rebranding Your SaaS Applications
The thought of rebranding can be overwhelming, particularly where the SaaS has worked hard to build up a name for themselves under their current branding. People typically worry that the company will look unprofessional or fickle if it is seen to change its mind.
A rebranding decision should never be made lightly, especially as it will take a lot of resources to market and communicate the change. These are some questions to consider in order to avoid the risks of a SaaS rebrand:
- Would a rebrand risk losing current customers?
- Would you rather keep those customers?
- Will the rebrand take a long time to have an effect?
- Is your problem really related to your brand?
Sometimes it works in your favor to help move along those who aren’t really the customers your business wants to be serving. On other occasions this might not be the right strategy.
Strategies to Make a SaaS Rebrand Work
If a SaaS rebrand is the way to go, here are some strategies for making it work:
1. Define Your Values
One of the first tasks that SaaS who have successfully rebranded tend to do is to sit down and clearly define their values. A strong sense of purpose with some clearly defined goals and values helps to define your company internally and externally.
Every company has values, whether they articulate them or not. How will you present the company to the outside world? How will your new brand represent those values?
The other part of this is establishing a clear vision. What is it that you want the rebrand to achieve? How will you track and measure your results? For example, if your aim is to attract more customers of a certain segment or demographic, you’ll need the right measures in place to be able to monitor if you were successful after your product launch or rebrand.
2. Figure out What to Do with Your Name
What’s in a name? Well, when you’re rebranding a SaaS, your name could be everything. A good company name is memorable and helps to attract the sort of audience you’re looking for. To go back to the example of Conversio being rebranded from Receiptful, you can clearly see the difference between the two names if you were to come across them at random as a customer.
The name Receiptful indicates that the company is all about receipts, which, as they have said, was a much narrower focus than what they found themselves doing. On the other hand, “Conversio” immediately brings terms like “conversion” to mind, suggesting that they are about getting more conversions or sales for their customers, a much broader focus.
How can your brand name encompass what you do and be inclusive of any further updates or expansions of service you might choose to do in the future? A great use of a name is Business in a Box. As the name suggests, they offer various business solutions in one place.
3. Engage Your Team
A big part of a successful rebrand is having the buy-in and support of your team. This is one good reason to engage with them early and get their feedback on the rebranding exercise, another is that you’ll probably get some great ideas from them.
Your team members are close to the action, they talk to customers and they often have insights into the product and customer base that someone who isn’t as close to the “ground floor” doesn’t necessarily have. You may want to survey your team, hold focus groups or even sit down with team members one-on-one. Bigger companies often use a strategy of having SMEs (subject matter experts) within each team to represent their ideas to the company and keep team members in the loop with what’s happening.
4. Consider Third-party Help
A rebranding of SaaS applications can be a big exercise and it needs a considerable commitment of time and resources. Do you have the capacity to commit to that from your internal resources, or, do you need to consider bringing in help?
A top-notch agency or development partner can bring a much-needed injection of ideas and focus to rebranding. When you’re still busy running the business, they can take charge of the rebranding project and ensure that all the boxes are checked.
#5. Incorporate customer feedback
All businesses should be gathering customer feedback as a regular part of their activities, and this feedback is very important for informing a rebrand. You should use customer feedback to incorporate things like:
- Customer priorities and problems.
- The language the customer speaks and the type of branding that will appeal to them.
- The values of your customers and what they value in a company they use.
6. Expand Your Current Brand
Sometimes a complete rebranding isn’t really necessary, even if you are expanding what you offer or targeting a new market. When you examine your branding, it might be possible to simply add on an offer within the current brand, especially if the brand name can be taken broadly in the first place.
For example, medical device compliance software company Greenlight Guru began life as software to support medical device developers in the pre-market stage of development. They recently expanded to include a solution for developers who have products on the market already and who want a solution for quality management. Rather than rebranding entirely, they simply renamed their products under the Greenlight Guru banner. The original Greenlight Guru software for premarket became “Greenlight Guru Go” and the new, postmarket software sales page became “Greenlight Guru Grow.” Thus, they have created a clear distinction between their products without sacrificing all the work they put into growing a brand.
Sometimes rebranding your SaaS might be necessary, particularly if you’ve changed since you started and you feel that your original branding doesn’t capture the values and audience you’d like it to. While it can be daunting to have to go through a rebrand, beginning with your vision and values at the center is always a good way to go, so that you can ensure you develop a brand that can really grow with you.
Get feedback from team members, customers and even third-party creative agencies. It can be tough rebranding while still trying to keep a company running, so extra sets of eyes and feedback can be important to make sure you create a brand with longevity.