By: Christine Buck, Vice President of Product Marketing and Brand, Hootsuite
For the last 14 years, Hootsuite has guided organisations through the wild and often unpredictable world of social media. Now, with over 4.6 billion social media users worldwide, it’s becoming much more challenging for brands to stand out from their peers and – with the social media space expected to continue evolving – brands are being challenged to become more creative and experimental than ever before.
That’s exactly what we tapped into with Hootsuite’s recent rebrand. Looking for inspiration on how to get started on reimagining your own brand? Below are some tips and best practice learnings that we took from our very own brand transformation.
Brand identity and vision
The first step any organisation needs to take when it comes to implementing a successful rebrand is to ensure it has a clearly defined brand identity. This brand ‘voice’ is vital to ensure current customers will still recognise you, and that you will attract the target audience that you’re intending to reach.
At Hootsuite, we have been guiding our customers through the social media management space ever since we created the category more than a decade ago. But, social has evolved at lightning speed, and it was time to rethink our brand to reflect our position as the experts in the space.
From the outset, one of the most important realities that we wanted to tap into was the recognition that while social media rewards bravery and creative courage, going out on a limb to embrace the wild world of social can be intimidating – and our customers need support. Our role as advisors to our customers is a key element of our brand identity, and became the focus of our rebrand. Through our new manifesto, ‘Your Guide to the Wild,’ we reinforce our position as the trusted mentor to help customers navigate the wild world of social media.
Beyond our new brand identity, the clear vision and goals that we set out from day one were the secret to our success:
- To empower customers to harness the power of social. Social media is an unprecedented force of culture that’s powerful, dynamic, and at times, polarising. But when harnessed positively, it has the power to do amazing things. Through the rebrand, we aimed to provide our customers with guidance on how to harness the power of social to ignite their brand and business, with Hootsuite’s support every step of the way.
- To help our customers navigate the digital wilderness. Tackling the wild world of social can be intimidating, and our customers need help. We wanted to reinforce our position as advisors and help our customers navigate the rapidly-evolving social landscape by asserting our deep expertise in the space.
- To support organisations of all sizes, from small businesses in need of time-saving tools to Fortune 500 enterprises that need sophisticated social media solutions to help manage all of their accounts, channels, and social data.
Being able to condense your rebranding vision into clear goals and an instantly-recognisable new brand identity are both vital steps for rebrand success.
The rebrand process
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to a rebrand. However, here are some key steps we took at Hootsuite that may help you get started:
- Brainstorming and pitching – We acted like a creative agency when planning our rebrand by leveraging the talent we have internally. To start, our Brand Lead developed a brief and paired content writers and designers together into teams, who then spent weeks developing and iterating brand-defining ideas. These were then brought to our Chief Marketing Officer, Maggie Lower, in a formal pitch – from which one final idea was chosen.
- Visuals – We wanted to unveil a new visual identity to reflect the next phase of our company’s evolution and modernise our brand. To ensure we could continue to engage and connect with our customers, as well as stand out from the traditional SaaS branding, we made significant changes to our look and feel – launching a bold new colour palette and redesign of our mascot, Owly. Key to this was the intention behind the new look; the choice of green represents the nature that surrounds Hootsuite in Vancouver, where our company and Owly were born, and the saffron colour symbolises the warmth of Owly’s personality.
- Values – To ensure the rebrand aligned with our values – particularly regarding the human element of social media — we utilised real people as part of the visual aspects of the rebrand. We hired influencers instead of actors, as well as real people from various walks of life – to show that social truly holds space for everyone. Photography was also crucial in emphasising this human element; Hootsuite’s creative partner, Amy Lombard, worked closely with Billy Jones, Hootsuite’s Senior Director of Brand Marketing, to take a social media-first approach to the rebrand’s imagery.
- Implementation – Hootsuite chose to execute the rebrand in-house. Our people know our brand and the unique needs of our customers best, and we knew that we couldn’t overlook the creative talent and expertise we already had at our disposal.
Holistic rebrand approach
Engaging key stakeholders and balancing in-house and external expertise is also crucial to success.
In the beginning stages, establishing cross-collaboration internally – from our leadership to our executional and frontline teams – was key to bringing the project to life. Following internal buy-in, we knew it would be important to bring in the right partner – and chose Prophet, an innovative agency who helped us to develop our logo, brand colours and overarching manifesto. From there, we collected thoughtful feedback from our customers and a diverse array of stakeholders to ensure the rebrand effectively connected with and reflected our key audiences.
In this way, we were able to take advantage of external expertise, while at the same time ensuring our internal goals and customer needs were aligned. Ultimately, the success of Hootsuite’s rebrand is grounded in the fact that it reflected both our company goals and customer needs – whilst also aligning with the experience (and utilising the skills) of employees and leadership internally. It’s no easy task, but if brands ensure they take a holistic approach in this way, they too can find rebrand success.