How to rebrand like Google
By Eli Schwartz September 9, 2015
- Do online and offline research to ensure no copyright or trademark issues
- Your users are your most valuable resource: Get their opinions and feedback
LAST month, Google caused reverberations from Wall Street to Silicon Valley with the announcement of Alphabet as the holding company for all of its products.
While this is a big announcement, in reality it doesn't really change the way it does business. Google’s stock stays the same, the bulk of revenue still comes from AdWords, and it is not changing its focus, yet.
Nonetheless, a rebrand is never something that should be taken lightly, and if you want to pull a Google-style rebrand, there a few hoops you must jump through in order to ensure that the rebrand is the right choice for your business.
Whatever your motivations are for rebranding, you want to avoid even worse prospects under the new name.
1) Conduct deep online research to ensure that there is no other business in your space that will share the same name.
The last thing you want to do is go through the exhaustive process of rebranding only to be sued over a trademark or copyright.
Don’t just conduct your research online as there could be an offline company that you are unaware of that will pounce as soon as you launch your brand.
A good start for your research is the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)’s search engine; however, don’t forget to use more local offline directories too.
2) If you have any thoughts of ever expanding outside your current language, ensure that you do your brand name research in any language that you might eventually service.
You want to avoid a scenario where you need to create a whole different brand name in a new language to avoid negative connotations. The easiest way to do this go to Google Translate and see what your name means in all of your potential language offerings.
Don’t just take the dictionary meaning, but also conduct a Google search for your new brand in the local language Google to ensure that there is nothing nefarious currently in the search results which might indicate the new brand has a not-so positive meaning.
3) There are many reasons you could be seeking a rebrand, but regardless, you do not want your existing customer base to walk away once you have a name.
More than anything else, it is important to know what your current customers will think of your brand. Put a survey on your website or send out a survey to your mailing list. Use online survey tools to get this quick feedback for free.
To make sure you get the best feedback possible, ask open-ended questions in your survey, asking your respondents what they think of brand name A or B.
You can even take the opportunity to show your users/ customers any new logos you plan on using to learn whether they might have visceral reactions to it.
Asking your users for their opinions is one of the most valuable resources that you should use as you embark on the rebrand.
4) Once you have settled on a brand name, make sure the domain name is available. You don't want to end up purchasing an unfamiliar top level domain like .info or worse, simply because the .com or your local country’s domain is not available.
Before you rebrand, make sure you snag all of the variations and misspellings of the name too. Don’t try to save money now by not getting all the misspells as this can be very costly if in the future you ever have to litigate them away from squatters.
Godaddy is a low-cost domain registrar and does not front run any domain name purchases like some of the smaller registrars.
5) Make sure all social media names or close variations are available. If your brand’s Twitter and Facebook are already taken by someone else, then there is the potential of those people hurting your brand if they are perceived to be controlled by you.
Knowem is an ideal tool to see what is available and to create the accounts right there.
Don’t settle for using handles that begin with ‘thereal_’ since customers may not know that the other accounts that don’t begin with ‘thereal_’ are not yours.
A new brand identity
Rebranding is always a risky process, and whatever your motivations are, you need to take steps to mitigate that risk.
If there are any items in the list above that you have not satisfied, then you be may taking on more risk than come out of the benefits of the rebrand. Even Google couldn’t satisfy all of the requirements on this list as it doesn’t own alphabet.com nor does it have @alphabet on Twitter.
Google, however, has the brand image and the budget to establish its new brand even without being able to completely own its online presence.
Unless you are Google, you need to be significantly more conservative with the risks you take. There will inevitably be challenges as you work to establish your new brand identity, but taking the steps now to know that new brand is not a liability and will not lead to user loss can pay significant dividends in the future.
Eli Schwartz is the director of marketing, Asia Pacific, for SurveyMonkey, the world’s largest online survey platform. He oversees SurveyMonkey’s marketing efforts in the region, and leads the company’s global SEO efforts and strategies across 17 languages. You can reach him via Twitter @5le.
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