How a rebrand boosted customer engagement for a decades-old B2B tech company
Decades-old B2B tech brands are at risk of being seen as yesterday’s news. Longevity, which should suggest stability and reliability, acts as an anchor.
Correcting the situation requires a makeover, perhaps even a name change—which comes with its own hazards: How do you move a brand forward without leaving the past behind?
This was the challenge Carol McNerney faced in January when becoming chief marketing officer of Information Builders. Founded in 1975, the New York City-based tech company predates the internet and the cloud, providing a range of business intelligence services. McNerney managed a major brand refresh, changing the logo, elevating a name abbreviation (IBI) and updating the brand story on a new website.
Relaunching at a virtual customer summit this June, IBI enjoyed a significant boost in new business activity over the summer—so much so that it made a different kind of news just last week: IBI was acquired by Tibco.
What was the rationale for rebranding?
That actually happened before I even arrived. Our company is about 45 years old and founder-led up until 2017 when our new CEO came in. He quickly realized this was a great brand, great technology, nice set of long-term customers. They just needed to get into the next generation and talk about the company. Because of the 45-year history, it was well known in certain sectors or industries, but we felt that the technology needed to leapfrog into the 21st century.
How far along were you when the lockdown started in March?
From the art side of marketing, they were fairly far along with the new logo, but probably not as far along with the positioning and the new messaging. I was really excited to understand the perception that our current customers and prospects had of us, and how we change that perception so that they didn't look at us as purely a business intelligence and analytics firm. Our real secret sauce was in the data side and our ability to access all that data.
We have a very large customer event every June where we get our customers together, and we knew that was going to be a great date to hit with this new messaging and positioning. Between March and June 23, we really ramped up our efforts to get that messaging and positioning nailed down.
Why did you decide to update the logo?
When you talk to our customers and prospects, some people called us Information Builders, some people called us IBI. IBI was very short, it was easy to remember; we could have a lot of fun from a logo perspective. And again, data was the area where we really wanted to shift the focus. If you look at our new logo, you'll see the IBI, and it looks like the ones and zeros—the nod to data. We thought, visually, that people would get a different impression of who we are.
Why did you keep the old name in the new logo?
As we did trademark research, we weren't sure if we were going to be able to go with IBI by itself. We also have this very strong customer base and very strong employee base that didn't want to walk away completely from Information Builders. The one really great thing about our company is that everything that we do, all the intelligence, we embed that intelligence into the data and analytics process. It was a nice way to take Information Builders for the people who knew us as Information Builders and embed that into this new logo. It showed our past. Be proud of our heritage, of what we have done in business intelligence and analytics, and then move and embed it (like we do with our technology) into this new, high tech-looking logo.
What idea did you use to express the rebrand?
We’re probably better known as an analytics company, so we really wanted to stress this idea of we are a data and analytics company and that we embed intelligence into everything. It could be a company's process, their portal, any technology. I think those were some of the key elements that we thought about in our messaging and positioning. First, we put it in the logo: Information Builders is embedded into IBI. The overall promise is “Build a Better Future,” supported by the idea of embedding analytics into everything our customers build.
How did you communicate the new vision?
I would meet with the different departments and explain what we were doing so that they really understood the messaging and positioning and how it related to them. We’d do everything from little coffee meet-ups for half an hour on a Zoom call all the way through to our town hall meetings that we held with the entire company. The best thing that they could feel was redoing the entire website. I would say that the vast majority of our customers and employees probably didn't feel that our website told our story. With this opportunity to tell a new story, it was a great time to just redo the entire website. Now that we’ve done it, not only is it beautiful, but it really tells our story on our homepage.
How did you share the new brand at your customer event?
We timed the refresh with our virtual summit. We knew we wanted to launch the new logo, messaging, and positioning at the event, but not all of our customers or prospects knew that was going to happen. We had fun with a social media campaign that drove a lot of attendance to our summit which helped increase our brand awareness.
We made all the new brand colors, the new look and feel, some of the new imagery, and obviously all the messaging come to life through Intrado’s platform. We also gave presenters new templates for presentations and had them pepper their presentations with the new messaging. Even if it was just on product or a particular solution, we wanted to make sure that they included the spirit of the new messaging, not just the new look and feel.
How successful was the event?
Our two-day event had over 3,500 people sign up to attend. At the keynote, about 2,600 attended, a mixture of customers and prospects. We were very happy. We knew you might not get people for two days straight, so we made all those sessions on demand. The only thing that the prospect or customer would miss was the live Q&A if they didn't attend at that particular time. Now that's available for a year. People can go back and review sessions and learn more about our products and solutions.
What were the results?
We've seen a real increase in engagement on our website. We hoped for that and anticipated that because we had a new message, because we've used more video elements. Everyone always knew video is a great medium, but we've seen a higher engagement level on our website and during our summit. People really did spend more time at the summit than we had hoped.
The bottom line is, are you getting more marketing qualified leads, sales accepted leads, and more revenue? We're starting to see a pickup in some of our cloud offerings that we were pushing in the summit and a lot more interest in general. We're also seeing 70% to 80% of the people who sign up for a virtual webinar showing up. We've seen really great numbers there.