A look at the art of b-2-b rebranding

A talk with the CMO of Copper, formerly known as ProsperWorks

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Credit: Cooper

Rebranding is an expensive and often painful proposition. Just finding a new name that key stakeholders like is an ordeal, not to mention securing trademarks and URLs. Then there's the cost of redoing every physical and virtual branded presence, which for global brands can cost millions. As such, it's not a journey that a seasoned CMO would embark upon without serious cause and steely determination.

Morgan Norman, CMO of a recently renamed software company, raised the ante by seeking an option that would disrupt the normally staid CRM category. In our conversation, below, Norman outlines how he orchestrated the change from ProsperWorks to Copper, why the color pink was a vital part of the rebranding and, most importantly, the actions the company took to make sure this was more than just a cosmetic makeover.

Where did the idea to rename ProsperWorks come from?

As I did a lot of research, I found it was hard for people to remember the name and pronounce the name, especially as the company expanded internationally. One key sign was we found that 30 percent of our paid ads [were shown] to people trying to log in to the company, but who misspelled "ProsperWorks." You're wasting money that way. But I also felt, after many years in the industry, that the CRM industry was ripe for something different.

What was the process like internally?

This is the second naming I've done. For Copper, we explored all different types of names, [from] poetic names like Lulu Lemon or descriptive like Vitamin Water [and] daring like Virgin. We had this long list— it was actually over five hundred names, initially. Eventually we started to narrow it down to a set of 10.

Why choose pink as the lead color for the brand?

Everyone uses the lovely world of blues in enterprise software. ... We saw an opportunity. The area where it was wide open was this magenta, this pink. No one had done it. It's gutsy. It's modern. It's fresh. It's different. It brings a different air to things, a different expression to things. I think some people really, absolutely love it and some people are like, "Wow that's intense." But that actually was the goal. The goal was to be something radically different that you wouldn't see in CRM.

Did you go past the cosmetics?

I love that you asked that. A lot of people think a brand is logos and colors. That's not really true. We overhauled every different aspect of messaging that informed the product. ... So, when you go through this brand exercise, you're learning a lot about what people believe, you're learning about what customers believe and you're seeing opportunities surface in new unique ways. Our roadmap has changed. We wanted to find a completely new way to handle our relationships.

How'd the launch itself go?

Launches can be absolutely exciting—and totally terrifying. We planned it around a PR event. I always believe in launching around a physical event, because it helps employees see it as physical, it helps customers see it as physical. We did the launch at Google Next. We launched with several different press releases about the name change, several different kinds of blog posts/articles about why we're doing this. We pushed these posts to existing end users. They got in-app notifications and so forth. But the real part of the launch was just explaining why we did it to our users and to our customers—and most people actually loved it.

Do you have a few key lessons you've learned through all of this?

Yes. I don't encourage rebranding unless you absolutely have to. That's my first lesson. It's very difficult. ... Additionally: If you're going to do it, do it early. If you're struggling with your name, tackle it right on. There were challenges with this thing from the get-go, and I think this could have been done a lot earlier. Another thing, from a b-2-b perspective, is b-2-b does not have to be boring. I think it's a time for b-2-b to be much more exciting, much more edgy. And I think we're selling to people that expect this.

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