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BtoB Case Study: How UTest Rebranded as Applause

How to Relaunch Three Previously Separate Brands Under One

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When UTest rebranded as Applause in May, it had the challenge of bringing together three previously separate brands, while keeping its core brand intact.

UTest was known for its app-testing service UTest, as well as two other products -- Applause, an app-quality service targeted at marketing executives, and Apphance, an app-testing service for the developer community.

"The objective was going from three different point offerings to a much broader, integrated solution," said Matt Johnston, chief marketing and strategy officer at UTest. "The rebrand was about building a much larger umbrella we could fit more of the point solutions under, instead of fragmenting under different brands with different names."

UTest partnered with b-to-b agency SteinIAS, New York, to help it with the relaunch.

"The idea of app quality has really been changing," said Ted Kohnen, CMO at SteinIAS. "The original idea of a high-quality app meant bug-free. But among UTest's targets, whether technical or on the brand side, the idea of quality was rapidly changing and broadening to include visibility, security, user response and mobile engagement. You take all of those, and it's not just about the bugs, but about the total engagement for the end user."

After doing research with UTest's different target audiences, including app developers, brand managers and business decision-makers, SteinIAS and UTest came up with the concept of an integrated solution to app testing, keeping the Applause name.

"We developed a 360-degree app-quality platform, addressing the needs and priorities of all stakeholders from a single brand and single platform," Mr. Kohnen said. "UTest was geared toward the tester community, while the 360-degree app-quality position allowed us to communicate a bigger value proposition to those stakeholders. It really culminated in the launch of Applause, but we kept the UTest name for the tester community."

The relaunch was officially unveiled in May, with a new website, digital ads, SEO, paid search, press outreach and social media. Mr. Kohnen and Mr. Johnston shared the following strategies for what made the launch successful:

Don't forget your core audience.
"There was so much equity in the UTest name -- we didn't want to lose it," Mr. Kohnen said.

The app-tester community has grown to tens of thousands of members globally, he said, and the UTest brand was well-known and respected among the tester community. "There was ownership of the brand from a very large community. Now when we message the tester community, we still use the UTest brand. When talking to the rest of the target audience, it's Applause."

2. Involve the entire company. "When doing the rebrand, we involved product development, engineering, sales and finance. We treated it as a company-wide effort," Mr. Johnston said.

Each department had a dedicated person responsible for communicating information about the rebrand to its members. "We would meet as a team every week. It was important because you don't want marketing to say, 'We launched,' and then have product marketing say, 'We need another month.' It was important to get buy-in and ownership."

3. Don't keep the launch secret. Product launches and new marketing campaigns used to be top secret, but not any more, Mr. Johnston said.

"We believe it's incredibly difficult to keep a secret for two or three quarters, so we decided to break the story early," he said. "We made it very transparent with our employees and customers to let them know the progress we were making. In this day and age of social, not only is it the best path, it is the necessary path."

So far, the relaunch has been successful, Mr. Johnston said.

"We set very clear expectations," he said, noting that the company expected awareness of the Applause name to take a hit with the rebranding effort. "We've been marketing [the new brand] for two quarters, and on the SEO front, we have recovered about 90-95% of our SEO juice when we look at the data, keywords, number of clicks and leads. We thought it would take three or four quarters to get back, so we are very pleased."

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