Rebranding is a challenging exercise for a SaaS company because it takes a lot of resources to market and communicate the new or updated brand. Rebranding decisions should never be taken lightly. A rebrand exercise may also seem overwhelming, especially when the SaaS company has put in a lot of effort into building a brand name for itself.
Most SaaS startups, however, find that somewhere along the way, they are no longer serving the mission they started out with. It is common for them to find new product segments or new industries and verticals to target. They undergo several iterations before they reach a more mature, final form.
If you’re wondering whether a rebranding of your SaaS company is worth it, consider the following questions:
- Would you risk losing your current customers?
- Would you want to keep these customers i.e. are they helping your company grow in the direction you want?
- Is your problem (due to which you’re considering a rebrand) related to your offerings or branding assets (such as the name, logo, etc.)?
- Would the rebrand take too long to take effect (nullifying the hard work done to establish brand value and visibility so far)?
Rebranding your SaaS company may be necessary to communicate the right message and to attract the audience you really want to serve.
Before we look at the reasons why a SaaS company may want to rebrand, let’s refresh our understanding of what a brand is.
What constitutes a brand?
You’d be surprised at how many people think a brand constitutes its logo, slogan/tagline, and color palette. No, a brand is much more than that. Those are just some of the visual elements of a brand.
A brand includes the entire experience that a customer has when interacting with a SaaS company and its products. It’s the collective impact or the enduring impression that the company leaves on its customers.
Some of the key elements surrounding the “creation” of a brand identity are innovation, differentiation, an emotional bond, the mission and values, and consistency in performance.
Why do SaaS companies need a rebrand?
When so much work goes into building a brand, why would SaaS companies want to rebrand? There are several reasons:
- Expanded product offerings – The product may have begun with a certain function in mind but has since then expanded its lineup to include other functions. For example, Receiptful rebranded itself to Conversio because it had expanded from email receipts to offering a range of ecommerce marketing tools.
- Market shifts – The SaaS company started by focusing on certain industries or verticals but has later moved to include other industries and verticals.
- New target market – The SaaS company may have started by targeting a particular audience like freelancers or small business owners. With time and expanded offerings, it may want to target a bigger audience size.
- Change in the market segment – The chosen market segment may have too much competition or users may not have much need for the product, so the SaaS company may choose to shift to a segment with more demand and/or less competition.
- Revised company structure – Restructuring due to mergers and acquisitions or diversifications will necessitate a rebrand. A strategic change in business direction may also need rebranding.
- Poor reputation – Although this reason for rebranding is not recommended, some SaaS companies may want to rebrand to shake off negative PR, repair their reputation, and make a fresh start.
- International expansion – Sometimes, SaaS companies deem a rebrand necessary before they enter international markets. For instance, Airbnb revealed a new brand identity in 2014 with a new signature color palette, typography, and brand mark (but did not change its brand name).
Overall, a SaaS company may want to overhaul its branding to remain relevant to its market and support its product evolution.
Rebranding is tricky and you don’t want to change the aspects of your brand that your customers love unless it’s absolutely required. You need to decide whether you need a full rebrand or just a modernization of certain aspects of your brand.
Which type of rebrand do you need?
There are three types of rebrands you can consider:
1. Full rebrand
A full rebrand involves overhauling every aspect of the company’s branding and creating a new identity. The company’s name, messaging, logo, visual identity, tonality, and values change fully.
SaaS companies undergo full rebrands if:
- it has changed its product offerings
- it has changed its mission and values
- it has undergone a merger or acquisition.
Example – cloudtamer.io
cloudtamer.io, a cloud management startup, rebranded to Kion after it expanded its cloud management features, including more support for Google Cloud Platform and cloud finance tools.
2. Brand refresh/partial rebrand
A brand refresh or a partial rebrand involves rebranding specific elements of the SaaS company, which may include messaging, logo, typography, or signature color palette.
This sort of rebranding is done gradually and the core aspects of the brand are kept intact.
Example – Slack
Slack, a popular online business collaboration tool, did a brand refresh in 2019 to create a cohesive and consistent brand. Instead of the original 11 colors, it chose four primary colors to simplify its visual identity. It also replaced the hashtag logo with a similar-looking icon consisting of speech bubbles and round shapes to represent communication. Thus, the company avoided confusion among its customers while maintaining brand familiarity.
3. Visual rebrand
A visual rebrand involves creating a new logo, color palette, and visual identity for a SaaS company.
Example – Zendesk
Zendesk is a SaaS company that provides products related to customer support, sales, and other customer communications. It changed its logo after expanding from one customer service product to six separate products.
The new logo has a geometric theme with different shapes coming together to form the letter “Z.” They retained the playful personality of the brand, but gave it a modern and sophisticated look.
If you’ve concluded that rebranding is the best way forward for your SaaS business, take a look at this checklist. It will help you avoid missing out on important elements of the process.
A Comprehensive Rebranding Checklist
Keep our comprehensive rebranding checklist handy to ensure that your SaaS company rebranding is streamlined and smooth. Note that the rebranding process looks different for each company and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. But the checklist includes the major areas you should keep in mind.
Rebranding consists of the following steps:
- Involve the right people
- Planning and preparation
- Create a new/updated brand strategy
- External implementation
- Internal updates
1. Involve the right people
The first step in a successful rebranding exercise is to involve the right people and secure the buy-in of everyone at your company. You may have a core rebrand team consisting of senior management, a brand strategist (internal/external), HR, marketing, and creative team members.
Apart from this, you can have subject matter experts (SME) within each department to represent the ideas and viewpoints of the constituent teams. SMEs will also keep team members informed about the rebranding process.
Since teams like e sales teams and customer support teams have direct contact with customers, they will be aware of potential difficulties. They will also have insights about the product and customers that higher executives may not have.
Depending on the size and structure of your company, you can consider conducting surveys, holding focus groups, or having one-on-one meetings.
Each team member need not have a say in every decision, but their feedback should be considered while making big decisions.
2. Planning and preparation
Create a plan before you execute the rebranding because there are multiple aspects involved and it’s easy for some things to fall through the cracks.
Define your values
Start with a discussion of your company values. Clearly defined goals and values help to define your company and give the rebranding exercise a sense of purpose.
- How do you want to represent your company to your customers?
- How will the rebrand uphold your company values?
Also, have a clear vision for the rebranding process. Think over these questions:
- Why is the rebrand happening?
- Which market(s) are you targeting with the rebrand?
- Will your audience remain the same?
- What will the new brand identity represent?
- How will the rebrand fit with the overall growth plans of your company?
Decide what to do with your name
If your brand name already encompasses what you do and is inclusive of any offerings that you may want to expand to, you don’t need to change your name.
However, if you’re rebranding because of a merger, you may need to switch to a name that is more representative of the new entity. When looking for a new name, ensure that it doesn’t clash with existing domains, social media handles, or trademarks.
Receiptful changed to Conversio when its old name was no longer representative of its expanded offerings.
Map a timeline, budget, and system
Create a timeline of all the major milestones and deadlines and share it with the whole team. Everyone can keep track of what’s happening and plan their tasks accordingly. Use planning software to collaborate better.
You can also use budget tracking tools to ensure that you don’t underestimate the costs of implementation and have the necessary financial backing to complete the rebranding.
Also, consider if you’d like to engage third-party help to take charge of the rebranding instead of devoting all your internal resources to it.
Your product appearance will need to change to match the new brand. This includes elements like logos, fonts, color palette, illustrations, and product name mentions.
Update any product images or videos that you use during onboarding. You may also have to painstakingly hunt down mentions of your old brand name, logos, and images and update them.
Customers usually have the strongest reaction to changes in visual identity, so consider their feedback to inform this aspect.
Redesign your website on priority, not as an afterthought. You may have to create new web pages to reflect your new identity. If you change your name as part of the rebranding, you’ll need to change the domain of your website, too.
- Set up redirects to your new website and edit old redirects. Think about whether the old domain will remain live for a few months to inform visitors about the rebrand. Or will it automatically redirect to the new home page?
- Update your API, integrations, extensions, and links within the web app.
- Ensure all data points for the API are still correct and let current API users know of the upcoming changes. Update documentation if required.
- Create new names, logos, and technical configurations for the extensions and integrations.
- Update links like user invites or shareable views to connect to the new domain.
Ensure that all updated assets are implemented at the same time so you don’t lose traffic due to broken links or lowered DA. You can also temporarily block the website until the rebrand launch.
Brand style guide
An updated brand style guide will give everyone in the company an overview of the new brand identity and provide guidelines about the use of logos, brand voice, communication style, colors, and language.
Use brand management tools like Frontify to store brand information and provide controlled access.
3. Create a new brand strategy
Create an updated brand strategy in consultation with relevant team members to pinpoint the focus of the rebrand and establish the goals you’re looking to achieve.
A clear brand strategy helps you position yourself correctly in the market and determine which marketing and promotional channels to use.
Changes in brand strategy also affect advertising, communication, and SEO focus.
4. External implementation
You’ll need to update all external assets of your SaaS company and, in this digital age, it mostly means updating your digital presence.
If you’re redirecting visitors to your new site, update all the old URLs to redirect to the new web page. Also change metadata on web pages wherever required to preserve your SEO ranking – page titles, image descriptions, page descriptions.
Change your social media handles and URLs and post an announcement about the rebranding explaining why you’re doing it and how it will affect your customers.
If you’ve changed your brand name, you’ll need to update the following: bank accounts, HR records, payroll, permits, credit cards. It’s important that this step is done accurately.
Business cards, stationery, banners, signs, media kits, posters, and other promotional material needs to be updated.
5. Internal updates
Internal updates are just as important as external changes because employees need to feel like they’re part of the rebranding exercise.
Digital assets that have to be updated:
- Email templates, signatures, and email addresses
- Intranet communities or digital workplaces
- Internal documents like contracts, slide decks, invoices, and forms
- Visual assets like logos and company images
- Employee training and onboarding materials
6. Rebrand launch
When you’re ready to announce the launch of your rebranded SaaS company, consider these three communication channels:
Write a blog post about the rebrand launch and address these points:
- Why you have rebranded
- What the rebrand means for your customers and stakeholders
- What the rebranded company’s priorities are
- How the rebrand supports your long-term growth goals
As an example, check out our blog post on rebranding ourselves from The 20 Media to Growfusely.
Communicate the rebranding on social media and monitor the conversation so that you can quickly address any confusion or questions. Talk about your brand priorities and upcoming plans repeatedly so that more people in your audience are aware of the change.
On rebrand launch day, send two emails: One, an external newsletter with a link to your new website, social media, and blog post announcing the launch. Two, an internal company announcement to employees and stakeholders to celebrate the rebrand.
Rebranding your SaaS company may be necessary when you find that your original branding does not represent your values, offerings, or audience any longer.
Consider feedback from team members, customers, and third-party agencies before making major decisions. An internal roll-out is just as important as an external one because people are naturally skeptical of change.
Ensure that you are always clear about your company values and mission so that your rebranding efforts give rise to a long-lasting new identity.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Growfusely, a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO.