Rebranding? How Your Messaging Campaign Can Make or Break Customer Trust
Naomi West is a Product Marketing Manager at Parcel, the industry-leading email coding tool, which was recently acquired by Customer.io. You can also catch her writing about all things email on her personal blog.
Rebrand time! You and your marketing team are about to launch a company rebrand, which can be inclusive of picking a great name, choosing a new color scheme, or re-imagining your website, just to name a few. Announcing to the world is an exciting next step.
The fastest way to kill the thrill is to confuse or scare off your email subscribers, especially with a look that they don’t recognize in the inbox! Think of the experience from their point of view: you’ve been a frequent presence in their inboxes, so they know and trust you. You need a thoughtful approach to communicating this big change in a way that maintains that trust.
As a SaaS email marketer, I’ve seen a lot of rebrand messaging campaigns, and the most successful ones have a few things in common:
- They center the customer experience
- They make the transition gradual
- They avoid alienating subscribers
Here’s how I suggest you approach your rebrand messaging campaigns to maintain positive subscriber relationships and avoid damaging your domain reputation as you unveil the new you.
Set the stage: 5 key questions
When planning your campaign, it’s incredibly useful to think through what your audience will experience and the potential pitfalls you’ll face.
1. What’s changing? Make a detailed list of the changes your customers will experience. Think beyond the basics like name, logo, and colors. Will you have a new tone of voice? Will people find more (or less) value in your brand? Do customers need to take any action?
2. How extensive are the changes? Consider the contrast between your old and new brand. How shocking will this change be to customers? Is the new look drastically different? Is anything fundamental, like your mission, changing?
3. How (un)recognizable will you be in the inbox? There’s always a risk that customers won’t realize it’s still you and mark your emails as spam. Even if you’re keeping the same name, there’s a chance people will think an email with a new look is a phishing attempt. How likely is it that your subscribers won’t recognize you after the rebrand?
4. What’s your messaging goal? Like any good email marketing campaign, your rebrand communications need a clear goal. What outcomes do you want to achieve, and how will you know if you’re hitting the mark?
5. What type of messages are you sending? If you’re hoping to promote the rebrand, your emails should only go to people who’ve opted in to marketing content. If you’re communicating a critical operations change, your emails might be considered transactional; check with your legal team before sending to every person on your list.
Create your game plan: 5 steps
Answering those key questions will give you the intel you need to create a messaging strategy: the content, the cadence, and the technical considerations.
1. Create a messaging plan. Determine the number of messages you’ll send across all channels you use: email as well as SMS, in-app, social media, etc. I recommend introducing your rebrand over the course of a few weeks, with at least one message letting people know what’s coming before flipping the switch and announcing that the rebrand is official.
2. Warm up your domain. Treat your new sending domain just like a new IP, especially if you plan to send large volumes right away. A few things to keep in mind:
- You run the risk of your domain reputation taking a hit if you change your name
- Monitor delivery closely through open rates, bounce rates, and spam feedback loops
- Consider throttling your email sends if your bounce rates and spam complaints are climbing
3. Set expectations. In your messages, clearly spell out what’s changing and what it means for customers. You’ll want to communicate:
- Details of what’s changing, plus what isn’t changing
- When the change takes effect
- Why you’re making the change
- How it affects your customers
Reinforce the key information in every communication. I also recommend framing the “why” around the customer benefits whenever possible. Let people know why they should be excited with you!
4. Ease people into it. Connect the dots for your audience by blending the familiar and unfamiliar during a transition period. For example:
- Use your legacy Friendly From name, visual identity, and sending domain for “what’s coming” emails
- Include your legacy name and logo when you announce that the rebrand is live
- Include transition messaging in your emails for several months; this might be the new logo in the footer with a “Formerly [Legacy Name]” note
- Include “Formerly [Legacy Name]” in your Friendly From name for several months as well
5. Segment and personalize emails. People who sign up for your newsletter or become customers after the rebrand don’t know the old you. Create audience segments based on the date they were added to your list and use dynamic content to deliver emails with transition messaging only to those who know your legacy brand.
Excellent rebranding in action: Wise (formerly TransferWise)
I used Parcel’s new Scroll My Email tool to produce the email GIFs below.
I was really impressed with how Wise handled their rebrand messaging. I always knew exactly what was happening, recognized the company in my inbox, and understood how the change would affect me. All that’s especially important because they’re a financial services company, so trust is paramount. Here’s what I appreciated about their approach.
1. Clear heads-up email. Wise let me know a few weeks ahead of time what was coming, and they used their legacy name and domain to avoid confusion.
2. Recognizable official announcement. They used their legacy domain and included their legacy name and logo even when they made the switch to a new name.
3. Ongoing hybrid presence. Wise included the old name in their Friendly From name for almost a year, so I never had a “Who are you?” moment in my inbox.
Above all else, nurture trust
You’ve spent months planning and executing your rebrand. Guess who hasn’t been in the room with you? Your customers. So bring them into the fold with a thoughtful messaging campaign (and while you’re at it, give ESPs some love by following best practices with your new domain). People have welcomed you into their email inboxes; your rebrand can be a chance to actually deepen that trust if you handle it well.