How a data integrity company got employees involved in rebranding process
At the first hint of the deal to acquire the software division of Pitney Bowes, Syncsort Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Ruane knew he would be playing "Beat the Clock." Once the deal closed in December 2019, Syncsort would have only six months before it had to drop the Pitney Bowes name. And, given that the acquisition would double the data integrity company's revenue and product portfolio, it was also clear that the combined entity needed a new name.
Nonetheless, Ruane was determined to involve the more than 1,400 combined employees in every step of that naming process. “We had an obligation to put our employees at the center of this branding because of the cultural aspects of bringing these businesses together,” he says. By May 2020, the world was introduced to Precisely, but not before hundreds of employees had the chance to learn about, influence and embrace the new brand and purpose.
How important were employees to the naming and rebranding process?
We had an obligation to put our employees at the center of this branding because of the cultural aspects of bringing these businesses together. We wanted to make sure that we reached all levels and all geographies of the organization to get inputs and views that could contribute to the branding initiative. We stood up a cross functional team that got together on a weekly basis with leaders from those groups who were liaisons.
It was great to not only include leaders from across the business, but to really give them an important role in their particular functions, almost crowdsourcing all of the little details that you would never in a million years imagine were going to be impacted by this effort. Then we could start to plan the broader top-down branding effort—the exciting things like what's our purpose, what's our name, what's our visual identity—and make sure that we could continue to support our customers in a very powerful way.
What was your timeline for renaming?
Our CEO wanted us to have the name ready for our global sales kickoff in early February, one of our most important first moments as a combined business. We had started the work throughout the months of September/October. I would say it was around November/December that we really homed in on where we wanted to go, had done the initial searches through the trademarking, legal. Then it was really just tightening things up in January and continuing to advance the project so that we could stand there onstage at the sales kickoff and announce the new name with confidence.
How did the internal sales kickoff go?
We had about a little more than a quarter of our employees at the sales kickoff event in-person, but we felt like you can't announce the new name to only a subset of the employees. As a precursor for what was to come in 2020, we brought everybody in virtually from across the world and across the organization to share in that moment. Just a really exciting moment as our CEO stood onstage and announced that we were going to become Precisely.
We had a nice digital setup in the room we were in where the branding actually changed from the legacy branding into the new Precisely purple branding in conjunction with him announcing it. Still a lot of work that needed to follow but it gave us that little boost we needed after the sprint to get to that point.
Did word get out about the new name between the internal and external launch?
We really tried to educate our employees and our partners that they were in on the secret. It’s always good to be prepared, but it ended up being a lot of worry for no reason. The benefits we got from engaging our customers and our key partners early in the process, getting them as excited as we were, it was amazing how they wanted to keep the secret and preserve the opportunity to get that one shot externally. Everyone understood that and didn't want to be the one to let the team down, but they were really thrilled to have that early preview and be in the know and participate.
We saw the benefits of that when we did the external launch. There was a lot of sharing on social media, and a lot of the pride that came with having been in on the secret and a part of the team that helped launch it in an impactful way to the market.
How did you make the announcement to customers?
From an external marketing perspective, we started to signal to the market that a change was coming, build anticipation, move to an interim step. We made sure our account executives, product management, front line support folks were well enabled, understood what the timelines looked like, what the message was for their customers. Certainly, there were messages being pushed from the marketing department out to the database, but we tried to complement that with our frontline personnel to try to share in their enthusiasm and their excitement.
How are you measuring success?
The website was a huge one for us and we're seeing some really nice growth there. The engagement metrics are solid for us in terms of people spending more time on the site, bounce rates are down moving through different places on the site to different parts of the portfolio. One of the things we spent a lot of time on was just making sure that we really simplified.
We’ve got 150 products today. You can't market 150 products perfectly, so we put out this concept of gateways to guide visitors to the right portion of the portfolio for the challenges that they have, worked really hard to try to make the connections between the natural products within the portfolio where we have proven cross sell motions that can be powerful for our customers.
What’s Precisely’s brand purpose?
Trust in data is really the essence of the Precisely brand and what we see in the marketplace is that people can’t trust their data and their enterprise systems to make the best business decisions. There needs to be a fundamental shift in how the market looks at attacking this challenge of trusted data. We talk about it in terms of being the leader in data integrity software. If you look at the data, everyone says this is a problem that they have. We really believe it's become a business imperative at this moment in time for businesses to solve for that challenge.
Ultimately, we believe that by going out there, showing that this is a real problem, and having it resonate with customers, success will breed success. Whether it's data integrity or another fancy term that a smarter industry analyst comes up with over time, for us it's really just important that we're putting the spotlight on this challenge and the areas where we think we have a unique approach to solve it.