great plans are crucial

We all know that change is hard.  Changing the name of your company or SaaS product and all of the details that involves is REALLY hard.  I recently went through this process leading our team as we rebranded GetFiveStars to GatherUp this month.

The TLDR version is that the end result is exactly what we wanted to achieve and our team did an amazing job with all of the moving pieces.  It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.  I thought I’d share just some of what I learned in the process.

1- Make Sure You REALLY Want To Change

Change for the sake of change will not likely be enough to carry out this process for your company.  The amount of details, preparation and flat out time (and that’s money) it takes to rebrand is not for the faint of heart.  There are many points in the process where you will want to quit or give up on it.  If  you don’t have a deep belief that the change is the right thing at your core, you could easily give up.

At various stages of ideas, discussions and planning we had some team members that wondered aloud if this was the right move.  That’s human nature, but if you are solid on the move (not bullheaded), you will win them back into the movement.  If you aren’t deep on the change yourself, you’ll be busy convincing yourself instead of keeping the team motivated.

For us, we knew our future was more than “stars” and we wanted a brand that reflected that.  We needed room to grow with our expanding vision and something that aligned with us, not restricted us.  Additionally we had other more straight forward needs in selecting a new name including:

  • Unique in our market, memorable and not a “funky” spelling
  • Able to get it trademarked
  • Could acquire the .com of the name (and social handles too)
  • As short as possible, shorter than what we had

That small checklist above is extremely difficult to nail these days.  Domains are in short supply for .coms and shorter names as well as social handles.  Just after we had gone through this process I came across this article on 7 rules for naming your start-up and felt good that we achieved most of these.

2- Plan, Plan, Plan

Our process took about 2 years in total.  Yup, 2 years.  You really can’t plan it all out enough.  For us it was perfecting a plan for 2 years and then executing a lot of it all in one night. It’s wild.

The plan was the most important aspect of the whole process.

In our case we not only had the new brand to create, but we had to plan out a seamless migration for thousands of users when we finally flipped the switch overnight.  No small task.  With rebranding a SaaS product, you have all kinds of URLs, redirects, APIs and more to consider and make sure they all keep working moving forward.

About 9 months prior to the launch of the new brand we put together a very comprehensive spreadsheet by each department of our company detailing each task and an owner.  Product, sales, customer success, finance/HR, marketing … every aspect of our company was dedicated to “no stone left unturned”.

Over the months we researched, documented and mapped out every element that needed to be created or changed over.  It was a big list, but it became the ultimate plan.  As the spreadsheet approached being complete, with every need known, we then were able to set a date for the rebrand.  We actually didn’t give a firm date until 6 weeks before it happened.

Our change to GatherUp went incredibly well, with almost zero issues.  We owe much of that to extensive and disciplined planning.  The plan was the most important aspect of the whole process.

3- A New Website Is Hard Work

One thing we had to do was delay our launch one week.  The delay was because the new GatherUp.com took longer than we expected to complete.  Our team on the website worked close to 16 hour days those last 2 weeks on content edits, design tweaks, responsive design adjustments, SEO/301 redirects and more.

web design gatherup

The amount of detail in a new website is a lot … and even though I just stopped building websites 3 years ago (by the dozens each year) at my last agency I had already forgotten just how much work a launch is.

In the end our team rallied, worked together, proofed and tested like mad and we hit our secondary target date for launch.

The Process Had A Big Bonus

Our rebrand has a shiny new exterior, but a massive perk was the internal clarity we gained in the process.  Our rebrand pushed me to look at our vision, mission and core values bringing a new focus to our “why”.  Prior to the rebrand, we had multiple vision and mission statements and lacked a set of core values.  Now our About page of our website houses all of these and it’s my favorite page on the website (after the sign-up page! 😉 ).

Core values GatherUp

Our team had been living these statements and values for the past 5 years, but we didn’t have them tightened up in a way we could communicate and anchor to them.

Now we do and it’s already paying huge dividends for out team, our decisions and our customers.

A Happy Ending

In the end I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and what’s next for GatherUp, the future is so bright.  We pulled off a gigantic move without issues for our customers and that was goal number one.  I’m also ecstatic that our new brand represents us so well … and we hopefully never have to do that again!

The process was long, interesting (like buying the domain and the twitter handle), but incredibly smooth thanks to the above.  If you are ever faced with this same challenge of rebranding buckle up, be true to your gut, plan like mad and give yourself a good timeline to get things done.

A million thanks to our team, our customers and our supporters.  Our best is yet to come as we work to make customer experience the backbone for every business.

 

 

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