When business grows, it can often transform into an unforeseen entity. In order to move with the company’s market, branding changes can become necessary. Richard Carey’s article in Search Engine Land offers some good insights on how to effectively transition your brand to better reach your market:
How To Gracefully Retire A Brand Name
Retiring a brand name is a tricky challenge. On one hand, you don’t want to confuse your marketplace by transitioning too quickly. On the other hand, you don’t want the transition to take too long because it can cost more money and also cause confusion.
We are currently going through a brand name transition with the Omniture brand being rolled up into the greater Adobe brand. The Omniture.com website is still in place, but you may have noticed that the last conference was called the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit rather than the Omniture Summit.
For most external marketing and field events, it is a fairly straightforward switch because we have complete control over what message we send to the customer base. In search, it is not so straightforward because we can’t control what people search for.
We have had a several discussions with the Brand team over the Omniture transition, and hopefully, this article will help you be prepared if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. It will also back you up as you educate your Brand team on the best practices in Search for switching a brand.
The first question that arose around the brand change was whether we should continue to bid on the keyword “Omniture” and its variations. This argument was straightforward because we had data to back ourselves up.
In our case, the keyword “Omniture” is one of our highest volume and highest converting keywords and all we had to do is show the loss in revenue that would occur if we stopped bidding on those terms. Even beyond this quantitative approach, there are other reasons to bid on the old brand name. Bidding on the old name provides a great opportunity to educate your customers about the brand transition.
A related question arose around how long we should continue to bid on our brand term. As much as I would like to put an exact date on how long we should continue to bid on the term, I can’t because it is different for every transition. Again, the trick here is to back yourself up with data.
As long as there are a significant number of customers searching for and converting on a brand term, it makes sense to continue bidding on that term. In smaller brand transitions, it can take as little as six months to a year for most of the customer base to start bidding on a new brand.
For sticky brands, it can take years for people to stop searching on those terms. There are several Adobe products where a brand has been retired years ago and people are still searching on those terms. For Omniture, I imagine that it will take a couple of years before search traffic is close to zero.
It was much more controversial when we continued to build landing pages with the phrase Omniture showing up on it. It makes sense why Brand would not want to create more assets with Omniture anywhere on the page. Not only could this be seen as wasted effort, but it could also be seen as a step in the wrong direction of changing the brand awareness.
The problem with this thought process is that it is easy to forget that paid search landing pages can be targeted very specifically and taken down very quickly once traffic on that term has waned. People searching on the term Omniture are looking for Omniture and if that term does not show up on the landing page, it could be very confusing.
In the Omniture transition, we have compromised with the brand team. We were able to get permission to include Omniture on the page, but we were not able to make the transition wording the most prominent piece of copy.
With smaller brand transitions at Adobe, we have placed the transition message directly in the title of the page and have seen virtually no drop in conversion rate. I expect we will see a slight drop in conversion rate with this new page, and maybe even a drop in quality score, but the message is still present for those who are reading the copy.
For large brand transitions, it is important to begin working with the brand team as soon as possible to plan out the best process for the transition. By working closely with the brand team, we were able to continue bidding on our brand terms, but we compromised a bit on the landing page question.
So don’t be shocked when your brand team wants to completely shut down your old brand at the start of a transition. Come prepared with data and educational information about how search works so that you can create a smooth transition and gracefully retire your old brand name. By continuing to bid on your old brand terms, and using that traffic as an opportunity to educate customers about the transition, it will ultimately be a smoother brand transition for you and your customers.