Is it time for a rebrand?
Whether you need to refresh outdated content…
Reflect changes in your scale…
Or fix branding mistakes keeping you stagnant…
Getting your rebrand right can impact your bottom line.
My guest Dorit Baxter, Chief Marketing Officer at Connect America, is a marketing professional with 20+ years of experience developing corporate and product brand identities.
Listen to find out:
- How you know it’s time for a rebrand
- Why your brand impacts performance
- The most important steps in the branding process
- How to get your team aligned around a rebrand
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.
Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. The topic for today’s episode is rebranding right. Here to speak with me is Dorit Baxter, who is the CMO at Connect America, a leading provider of digital health solutions dedicated to empowering aging adults in vulnerable populations to live gracefully and safely at home.
Dorit is a season marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience. She has developed and managed, recognizable and sustainable corporate and product brand identities for multiple organizations and Fortune 500 companies. As Chief Marketing Officer at Connect America Dorit is responsible for the company’s entire marketing functions across its enterprise and direct to consumer business. Dorit, welcome to the show.
Dorit Baxter: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Steffen: Well, before we start to talk about today’s topic, I would like to learn more about you. Tell our listeners about how you got started in your career, and how you ended up in marketing.
Dorit: Sure, so I actually did not intend to go into marketing. It wasn’t a specific thought that I wanted to be a marketer, I actually wanted to go into journalism. And I started my career, majored in English and in journalism, and I started my career working at a magazine as an assistant editor. And I moved just, you know, for my, my family’s job situation and got a job working at IBM as a writer because I had a journalism background. And the more that I spent time writing things, the more I started to think about the strategy of what the company was saying and how they were saying it.
And it gave me an opportunity at some point to become the content editor of newsletter and of a website. And it just kind of continued from there. I really enjoyed thinking about the strategy behind what gets said, why it gets said, how do you say it. You know, how do you drive momentum with customers and get people to pay attention to you in a very noisy market. And so, my career in marketing progressed once I started working at IBM and I have not looked back since.
Steffen: Well, you have had the opportunity to work on a variety of brands and diverse branding or rebranding projects. Can you share some of your experiences in branding?
Dorit: Sure. So, the first experience I would say was I was also at IBM, where I was there for almost 10 years working in their small and midsize business unit at a at a global level. So we were thinking about, you know, how do we position IBM solutions for small and mid sized companies. IBM was very much a large company’s company and was really trying to make a much more concerted effort to move into this market. And part of that meant there were several acquisitions of companies that had specific technologies for small and midsize businesses.
And so we would need to go through the bringing them into the IBM brands. So I had the opportunity to learn the kind of the right way to do that. Because as you can imagine, IBM has a very structured approach to that. And every company that was acquired, you know, you would, they would get, you know, logo treatment, and, you know, the fonts and the design and all of that. So I really learned kind of the right way. From there, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several initiatives, but with maybe smaller companies or startups that are growing, who have needed to build their brands, or have needed to make a pivot or rebrand. So I would say then, the bulk of my experience has become more around helping the startups.
And you know, companies that are in growth phase really think about their brand, and what does it need to be in order for them to achieve their goals. And in many cases, that’s been either a brand refresh, or it’s been integrating other acquisitions into the brand, or even completely renaming and rebranding a company from scratch. So I’ve been very lucky, because I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many different types of branding projects. It’s something that I love because you really do get to be creative, but you get to marry that up with actual market feedback and with your business goals. So yeah, I’ve had an opportunity, a lot of different things.
Steffen: I can imagine that it’s probably challenging to make a decision on whether to to rebrand or not to rebrand. Rather to refresh a brand or to leave the brand as is because or even to to kind of just wipe out the brand and and just integrate them with with another brand. How do you go about deciding what what is the right avenue for the company?
Dorit: I think the question to always start with is, why are we even talking about this? Why are we talking about the brand? Usually, it’s because something is not working, right? Something is, you feel it could be better, right? Does it, is it going to give you a competitive advantage? Or, you know, is there really no visibility for your brand, and the company started focused in one area, and now they’ve realized that they want to pivot or scale up or they’ve made an acquisition. So there’s plenty of very real opportunities for you to say, is our brand serving our business needs? Have our business needs changed? You know, is there a very real reason why we want to do this?
And it’s important to think about that, because, you know, the the old saying, if something is not broken, don’t fix it. And that’s very much the true, the truth with branding, because there are lots of things you can do with your marketing resources, and most of them should be to drive revenue growth. So when you take on a rebranding, you are really taking some time and tons of resources, you know, even if you work with an agency. So I think if you’re doing it for the right reasons, then it’s absolutely crucial to make the investment, you know.
So in the case of my most recent organization, Connect America, where we just went through the rebranding process, you know, we have gone through a very, very large pivot and growth and are really moving into the market in a very meaningful way. And so we felt like the time was right, and it would give us the opportunity to better to better tell our story and present ourselves as you know, the leader in the category that we were in.
So that was a decision that everyone agreed to. In some cases, it may be that your brand is really kind of working for you. But it might be a little bit outdated. And so you’re just every time you touch something, you’re gonna make it a little bit better, right. You might improve your logo, you might do some small things. So I think it just comes down to what is, what is your business goal and is doing something about your current brand going to help you deliver on the results of your organization? And if the answer is yes, then you absolutely need to do it.
Steffen: Yeah. Now, before we before we jumped on to record the podcast, you’d mentioned that obviously, Connect America bought Lifeline, which I believe is something that probably a lot of listeners will know as a brand is like the grandma falling, I can’t get up. You know, that’s one very, I don’t want to say iconic, but it’s a recognition, you know, people know, when you say the name, what it is. In that case, is the idea for you more to basically integrate it into Connect America and almost do a rebranding. And wouldn’t you, if that’s the case, wouldn’t you take away a lot of value by doing so? Because you will have to basically create a completely new brand, that then people connect with the product and everything else, which can be very expensive.
Dorit: Yeah, absolutely. And in a case like that, and you know, we’ve had a couple of acquisitions, since I started with the company. The Lifeline brand has significant recognition. And so we actually have done nothing with the brand other than to do some refreshing, right, and so where we can, and, and, you know, just kind of looking at it holistically as a part of the organization. But again, that goes back to that question, why would we rebrand. And right now, you know, Lifeline is, you know, we wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the brand recognition in the market.
So we’re definitely keeping that as part of our organization as an intact brand, in the direct to consumer space, and as well as in some cases in the, you know, the enterprise space. So that’s a perfect example. We are managing multiple brands and Connect America right now. Can that change? Of course, you know, that could change. But that was, again, a perfect example of asking the question, you know, what would happen if we did this? And why would we consider it and, you know, we, we, we recognize that that brand recognition is real, and it’s an important part of our business. So we have, we have integrated it, but we’ve integrated it intact into our portfolio.
Steffen: That makes that makes total sense. Now, this podcast is about performance. Not everyone may understand how a brand can impact performance of an organization. Can you explain from your point of view, how branding impacts performance? How can it at the end of the day, help to impact the bottom line?
Dorit: Sure. I mean, the the the obvious answer is that if you have a great compelling brand and a great story, and you present it consistently, you know, each time it’s going to help your sales team, you know, really pave the way for them to be able to have you know, meaningful conversations and people will have a positive association with your brand. Is that easy to measure? No, it’s not really easy to measure. And it’s not as if your sales team is gonna go in the door and say, hey, what do you think of our brand and did that influence you in this decision, right?
So, and if you’re not in a company that has large, sophisticated brand tracking studies or methodologies, you know, you’re really looking for, you know, are you moving the needle against your business objectives again. And one of the ways I think about it is we’re not really measuring the impact of the brand in terms of do people like it or do they not like it? But are you growing your awareness and are you, you really need to tie it to how much your voice is getting out there, and how many different opportunities there are for people to interact with your brand.
So it’s really through, it’s really through the execution of your brand and what kind of feedback are you getting, what kind of responses are you getting? Are you bringing in, you know, more leads in through the door, are you having more media come to you and say, hey, we want to interview your thought leaders, you know, so you have to really tie it to the overall package of growing awareness and, and, you know, filling this, the sales funnel. So, I think if you do a really good job getting feedback upfront from the market, and from your sales force, and from your leadership, and the company, and and others, and you build the brand based on that feedback, and you go out and you execute it really, really well, then that brand is helping to drive you performance.
And you know, I always tell the sales team my job is to make sure that when they walk in the room, it is not the first time that they have heard of Connect America, or you know, whatever company that you’re working for. So by the time that and this is an enterprise sale, so it’s you know, a little bit different than maybe your direct to consumer mechanism. But many people in the room should have multiple interactions with your brand, they might have done some research, they might have Googled you, they might have gone to your website or checked out some of your, your leaders on LinkedIn. And that’s what you want, right and you want, so every every interaction they’re going to have is going to be a positive experience with your brand to help move things along.
Steffen: Now a lot of companies, they struggle to quantify the impact of the barnd awareness part, so if we just go off a basic funnel. Understanding that obviously, the basic funnel necessarily doesn’t exist anymore. But a lot of companies seem to have problems to connecting the brand awareness part with the performance part. And then what happens in the sales part and then measure through from top to bottom, what the impact is. What are your thoughts on that? How are you justifying brand spend to get people familiar with the company that you’re working for, with the products, etc.
So that you then can say, you know what, because we spent X amount up here, we created people that came in, moved down the funnel then when the sales team at the end of the day worked a lead, you know, that person had heard about us, they were not just signing up because they wanted to download a white paper, for example.
Dorit: Yeah, and this is a really tough one. This is the question. And I think it organizationally, different organizations have different, you know, views on this. And I’m really fortunate to work in an organization that really understands the value we want to be and we are the category leader, we need to we need to show up that way. So that means we need to invest in a lot of activities like getting our thought leaders out there and speaking engagements, having them interview, writing by lines, doing all the things that you need to do to raise your awareness. Is everything measurable is everything tied to a specific sale, it’s not going to be that way. Not easily at least. So we set specific goals based on kind of our benchmarks.
So I want to make sure that we have maybe, you know, four or five meaningful conversations with analysts every year. I want to make sure that we have we’re increasing the number of inbound inquiries that are coming to us asking for our input on real, you know, industry areas or about products or solutions. So set several, you know, measurements in place, and if you meet or exceed those measurements, you know, your brand awareness is growing. There is going to be a correlation between that and and, you know, hopefully through your sales or for the opportunities that have come. And we had a previous company, we spoke with an analyst and we were featured in an analyst report and we share that information and help increase our visibility and discoverability.
And we had somebody who kind of came to us as a customer and said I saw you in this report. And now the customer told us if that hadn’t been the case, we wouldn’t necessarily have known. So there’s a little bit of kind of trusting that you know that this is right. And we know that it influences positive experiences but also measuring everything that you absolutely can. If you’re seeing that it’s not growing, you know you’re not doing the things that you know you need to do and you’re not getting the results you want then okay, you have to think about that. The more that you can fill the top of funnel even if it’s with just eyeballs as I say you know, the better chances you have, you know those kinds of passing through and becoming customers.
Steffen: Now, branding, and what makes a good brand is, is very subjective, right? How do you get past or around everyone’s different opinions? Do you try to get consensus? How do you, how do you manage the process of getting alignment?
Dorit: Yeah, this is tough, it’s very, very tough. I will say, if you only have to do it, right, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes, so I can speak from experience. Because often, you know, as a marketing person is like, we’re just going to do this, it’ll be great, trust me, you know, but people get very attached to the brand. And in some cases, if you’re working at a small organization, you know, the founder might be there and, you know, has very strong feelings, or you have others on the executive team who have really strong feelings, and you’re never going to please everybody. So you have to go into it, knowing that you have to get alignment little in a different way. And by that, I mean, it’s really important that you tell everybody what you interview everyone who’s who’s important, and would be considered stakeholder and let them have the opportunity to tell you everything that they need to know.
I recently worked, you know, with a specific agency that helped us kind of think through that process for the first time in a real meaningful way. And that was, that was fantastic. Because we interview people, we got their feedback, but then we went to the market. So we talked to investors, we talked to, you know, potential customers, we talked to existing customers and advisors. And we actually had them look at our potential concepts and and without, you know, giving them anything, what would they, what would they choose, and why? What really spoke to them. And so that kind of removes the internal think.
Because sometimes it’s, you know, when you’re sitting together with your leadership team, or others in your company, it’s you talking about yourselves to each other. So I tell people, it doesn’t matter, even what I think. What matters is what our potential customer thinks. And so if you get market feedback, and you bring that back to the table, and you make it based on that decision, then maybe people still won’t like it. But they have to agree, right? That okay, well, this is probably what’s going to work best in the market. And that’s what we care about. So we’re gonna move forward, and, and we’re gonna support this.
So getting alignment, and mapping it back to what the actual people you care about, who are going to invest in your, in your product in your company and work with you. What they care about is most important. It helps to remove any of that, right? Because then it doesn’t even and I usually get it wrong, sometimes the thing I think everyone is gonna like is it’s not it’s something else. And it’s something that because you’re so close to it, you don’t know. So that’s what I would suggest to anybody thinking about this, if you don’t get the alignment up front, you’re going to probably have problems later. And it’s better to just go through that hard work. So you can have a successful launch.
Steffen: Yeah, that makes that makes a lot of sense. I guess getting getting feedback from the market, you know, getting outside opinions. It’s just required, because otherwise, you ust play in your little pool, where all your friends are, they all have a certain view that is very close to what is existing. And you won’t get actually the sentiment from the outside world that as you said, that are your customers are the people that interact with your brand.
Dorit: Correct, right. Yeah.
Steffen: Now, branding, or especially rebranding, it’s a very complex process. What are the most important steps? And what can you absolutely not do without?
Dorit: Yeah, well, I think we just talked about one of the steps, which is the process of getting alignment, which is pre alignment, we’re gonna do this. Getting feedback, then you know, getting market feedback after you’ve developed the concepts, and then getting everyone aligned, and you know, around what the branding is. And communicating why you chose the brand and tying it back to, you know, your values and your mission, especially when you are taking this out to the rest of the organization. So we actually held brand workshops, and we invited you know, anyone who wanted to come to, we would we do exercises to get them thinking about the importance of branding, and then we talked about our brand pillars and why we chose what we did and, and that actually really helped because people felt invested in the process.
They understood it, they understood the why we tied it to our mission. And people were you know, very, again, very positive people have opinions, but overall, you know, it worked out great. I think the other stuff that’s really important is you want to know your competition, and you want to understand what they’re saying, but not get completely hung up on it. So the best way I think to outsmart your competition is just to know yourself really well and know what you do better as opposed to, you know, always looking at what they’re doing. But you do need to know and really do kind of that competitive mapping and one of the best exercises is you just kind of lay that out on a matrix and where all your competitors are and see where you are and where do you want to be and how you’re going to get there.
So I think that’s, you know, hugely important. I think the other thing is picking the right agency partner, if you’re going to work with an agency, and you have to find somebody that really fits your needs, it can’t just be whoever came in with the best, you know, price. Because when that happens, you know, sometimes you end up, you know, skimping on some things that were really important. And you want to ask questions, like, you’ll often get the, you know, the senior leadership on the phone from the agency, and then you work with them, and then that you’re working with somebody that you’ve never met before, right? Who doesn’t have a ton of experience. So you want to find out, who am I going to be working with after? Or who’s going to be my account management? What’s your, what’s your process, moving forward?
And really going by does it feel right? Are these people that you feel like you can talk to and I can’t say, you know, stress enough, sometimes there are, there are areas of marketing where you don’t need to know the industry. But if you’re going to rebrand, I think it is important that the people that you’re working with have worked with other customers in your industry and do have some solid experience. And I think that made all the difference for us with our last rebrand is, we had some very, very seasoned healthcare vets working with us on it. So they got it, and it just went really, really fast. So I would say those are probably the three top things I would think about.
Steffen: When you rebrand at the end is always the challenge to air quotes, sell it to the company, right to to the people that are there on a day to day basis. And I’ve been in my career for I think two or three rebrandings myself, and especially when you were younger is like, okay, good different name or same name, different logo, different kind of, you know, slogan or something like that. How do you make people familiar with the new brand? Why you did it? And I mean, we talked about performance summary. How do you make people in an organization familiar with it and comfortable with the new brand, or what you came up with, so that they’re actually also a proud and, and can communicate it outside when they interact with customers, or suppliers. Everyone they’re in touch with.
Dorit: Yeah. So I think that, that is so important. And I think about the company that I’m at, right now we have people who are, you know, responding to people, to seniors who you know, are need help, right, or they need some sort of assistance, sometimes it’s very, very serious. And that, you know, they’re very proud of the work that they do, and they make an impact and save lives every day. And they talk to people who are sometimes in their, you know, having their worst day. And it really needs to be about them at the end of the day, because they’re the ones that are, you know, on the phone, so, uh, talking to people.
And so we did invest a lot of time in this rebrand. And I will I will say that this was a little bit different than what I’ve the way that we’ve done it before. And like I said, we did workshops, and we walked everybody through the why. And we created a really very compelling video that talks about the reasons for the rebrand and we tied it all to at the end of the day, we are helping seniors and other vulnerable people stay at home and live their best lives as safely and as well as possible. You are making that happen by your role in this organization.
And we want you to feel really proud of the way that we’re representing your work and the company to the market. And we gave them you know a placemat with, here’s our reasons to believe, you know, this is, this is the category that we’re in. And we talked about our differentiators. And people felt and this was before launch. So they felt like they were part of it before. So it was not something that was done to them. It was something that they got to see and participate in. And I think that it made all the difference. Now, the other thing is that we also created some shared, you know, ownership over the success of this.
So we had managers and people who were in charge of teams, you know, to identify the things that would need to be rebranded first within their realm and worked with them on, you know, helping them to get those things done. So everybody felt really ready to go. So it was a company wide approach. And I realized that can be challenging, especially the larger the organization is, but I can’t stress enough how much better it makes everything for everybody at the end of the day.
Steffen: Yeah. Now, before we come to the end of today’s podcast, recording, Dorit, if you had to leave one piece of advice to someone thinking about leading a rebrand, what would that be?
Dorit: So you’re gonna live with this for a long time after you do it. Some things look really good, they sound really great, but the execution of them on a day to day basis can be challenging. So please do not make this complicated and challenging by using you know, you know, it’s great to have some interesting design elements but make it easy and turnkey for people to execute. Because if not people start to have problems. That’s when the branding starts to fall apart. And remember that the brand is supposed to help you achieve your business goals at the end of the day.
And if it’s making it difficult to do that, if it’s too complicated or unwieldy, it’s not going to. So you know, you have to evaluate every decision that you make with what is it going to be like to live with this later? And is it going to make it easier or harder for us to achieve our objectives, and that should be the standard by which you measure every decision that you make.
Steffen: Dorit, thank you for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on rebranding. Now, if people want to find out more about you or Connect America, how can they get in touch?
Dorit: Well, I’m certainly, our website is you know, connectamerica.com. I am on LinkedIn and we are on LinkedIn. So I would encourage you to come to our page follow us and and learn about what we do and reach out if you have have any questions.
Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you liked the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us, or leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.
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