How to Nail a B2B Rebrand

Adopting a new brand is never easy. It takes time, money, and effort. Settling on a name is hard enough, let alone securing trademarks and a domain name. Then, of course, there’s updating signs, company gear, online imagery, press releases…the list goes on, but for major, global brands, such an undertaking can cost millions. These difficulties don’t necessarily outweigh the potential benefits, but do mean any rebrand needs to be approached with considerable vigor and determination, and with a game plan.

Morgan Norman, Chief MarketingOfficer of Copper, née ProsperWorks, knew a rebrand would be difficult, especially since he was looking to raise the bar for brands in the usually tame world of CRM. In this episode of RTU, Norman discusses how he approached planning the rebrand, and ensuring that multiple company elements were aligned on the rollout. He also addresses why the color pink was such a crucial element of the new brand, and the steps the company took to make sure the change wasn’t purely cosmetic. Listen to the full interview below, and find some key excerpts further down.

What sparked the decision to move away from “ProsperWorks”?

Well, a lot of these ideas start internally for CMOs. The employees are talking about struggling with the name, or customers are struggling—and that happened to be the case with ProsperWorks. So that was one piece. The other piece was: As I did a lot of research, I found it was hard for people to remember the name and pronounce the name, especially as the company expanded internationally. One key sign was, after some initial research on our paid, we found that 30 percent of our paid ads were appearing to people trying to log in to the company, but who misspelled “ProsperWorks”. You’re wasting money that way. But I also felt (after many years in the industry) that the CRM industry was ripe for something different. There’s a lot of tradition in B2B, and I thought we’d do something quite unique that expresses how unique the product was.

What is it like to pick a new brand name?

This is the second naming I’ve done. For Copper, we explored all different types of names—whether they’re poetic names like Lulu Lemon or descriptive like Vitamin Water, or you could go daring like Virgin. We had this long list— it was actually over five hundred names, initially. We kept narrowing it down through what our values are and what we thought about CRM and eventually we started to narrow it down to a set of 10. And then slowly, as we were creating the brand at the same time, we’d decide a name didn’t fit the brand. All at once we’re doing the naming, and we’re looking at complete color palettes, industry palettes mood boards and suddenly the name just didn’t fit. Through that process we landed on Copper.

What about the logistics, alongside creatively landing on a new name?

There were also knock out searches, with factors like trademarking, URL availability, cost. Copper worked for all of it. At the time, multiple people were actually bidding on the name copper. We had to be very stealthy. We used a firm that will help you buy you URLs and that’s what I recommend doing, versus going in as a privateer. And they actually do a lot of different tricks to get you the best price of the URL.

Why not specify Customer Relationship Management in the product name by going with “Copper CRM”?

There’s a couple of reasons why. One of the things a lot of people skip in naming is: they don’t really look at the entire market landscape and that’s really where I start. I look at everyone and I look at key analogs and the one thing that I saw with the CRM categories, is everyone was incredibly literal. If you look at—and I’m a fan of a lot of these—like Salesforce, Base CRM, Salesloft—everything was this very literal version of CRM and things don’t need to be that way. That was one key element. The other key element is our customers have moved beyond just customer relationship management—they’re thinking about how they manage all aspects of things. Google’s managing developers, some folks are managing investments and founders. There is no longer just this acronym of a category that that was necessary for us. And I also felt like the category is going to shift as well. Leaving it at Copper left it more open for change.

And how did you end up choosing pink as the new, primary color?

If you line up company logos by color, sadly, under blue, you’re going to see everyone. Everyone uses the lovely world of blues in enterprise software. And when  we looked at all this, we saw an opportunity. The area where it was wide open was this magenta, this pink. No one had done it. It’s gutsy. It’s modern. It’s fresh. It’s different. It brings a different air to things, a different expression to things. I think some people  really, absolutely love it, and some people are like, “wow that’s intense”. But that actually was the goal. The goal was to be something radically different that you wouldn’t see in CRM.

And did you do anything else to back up a new color scheme and logo?

I love that you asked that. A lot of people think a brand is logos and colors. That’s not really true. We overhauled every different aspect of messaging that informed the product, not only what it is today and how we communicated with users, but also  it informed the roadmap of what we wanted to be. So, when you go through this brand exercise, you’re learning a lot about what people believe, you’re learning about what customers believe and you’re seeing opportunities surface in new unique ways. Our roadmap has changed. We wanted to find a completely new way to handle our relationships. That’s really what percolated out of that. Of course, there are colors and image. And that’s fantastic, but there’s another piece: how you want to shape the category to benefit all your users, all your companies—help them grow. Most people think it’s all colors, but it’s so much broader. Bring everyone involved in and everyone at the organization can help you shape the new direction of the company because all companies are evolving endlessly.

Let’s talk launch day and brand rollout. How’d they go?

Launches can be absolutely exciting—and totally terrifying. We had been prepping admins and letting them know this rebrand is coming. There were some areas where we made mistakes, like sending emails but some people were unsubscribed, so they didn’t get it. So, there are some mistakes along the way. But the launch… We planned it around a PR event. I always believe in launching around a physical event, because it helps employees see it as physical, it helps customers see it as physical. We did the launch at Google Next. We launched with several different press releases about the existing name change, several different kind of blog posts/articles about why we’re doing this. We publish this to existing end users. They got in-app notifications and so forth. But the real part of the launch was just explaining why we did it to our users and to our customers—and most people actually loved it. Honestly, it was pretty much smooth sailing. We didn’t have any product issues. We didn’t have any website issues at launch. We were good to go.

How did you use the rebrand to support other marketing, or overall brand interest?

First: testing digital ads. We tested several different ad campaigns, and one of them was “CRM minus the bad stuff”. And we had five variants of it which eventually became our billboards and bus stop campaigns as well. We wanted to see how people responded, what colors they responded to. I’m not a big believer in “every ad has to tell you exactly what to do”, like, “buy my eyeglasses now”. It has to make you curious and kind of finish the story. So, we did several billboard campaigns—all variants— and we did this around key airport cities. We had customers that landed at the airport from France tell us  “I just saw your billboard, I want to buy your product – I need something different.” I think out of home stuff is a fantastic way to land your brand. There are lower cost things like bus stops, that can just be amazing. And people started talking about this very quickly.

Any key takeaways for marketers or CMOs out there?

Yes. I don’t encourage rebranding, unless you absolutely have to. That’s my first lesson. It’s very difficult. It could have a big strain. Additionally: if you’re going to do it, do it early. If you’re struggling with your name, tackle it right on. There were challenges with this thing from the get-go, And I think this could have been done a lot earlier. Another thing, from a B2B perspective, is: B2B does not have to be boring. I think the way the historical legacy players had it, where stuff was top down, you could make things that way. Boring. I mean, you were just basically  forcing software on the user. But I think it’s a time for B2B to be much more exciting, much more edgy. And I think we’re selling to people that expect this. For this marketing and for rebrands, so much is just about messaging. We recut all our sales decks. We recut every sales tool. Complete overhaul. And I think marketers have to educate people. The brand is not just logo and colors. That is not what a brand is. A brand is so much more than that and messaging and product touchpoints all need to reflect that.

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