Exploring the intersection of brand and investor relations
Danielle Ruess-Saltz is a global marketing leader who found her niche developing strategies that incorporate digital marketing and investor relations to drive increased market share, customer expansion, retention, and loyalty. When we asked her to share a bit about her rebranding experience, she illuminated the influence brand can have on investor and customer perceptions and, ultimately, company valuation in the start-up world.
Creating a differentiated brand presence in a crowded market
Danielle previously worked at a global technology services provider where, as the Chief Marketing Officer, she oversaw marketing and investor relations. Upon joining, she immediately recognized the opportunity to sharpen the brand’s story and refresh the visual identity to reflect where they were going in the future. “The company was using a generic icon for a logo that offered no differentiation and that we couldn’t trademark. No one would even take notice of it,” said Danielle. “We were playing in a pond of big companies and looking for a larger private equity investment and we needed to modernize our image in an intentional way.” She became an evangelist for brand change and quickly gained buy-in.
Building relationships to build the brand
Another change that the brand needed to reflect was a shift from providing products to services. To understand these nuances, Danielle interviewed everyone on the leadership team and asked them to fill out a questionnaire. This way, she would understand what was important to them as she worked with her team on the logo and design system. In past jobs, she had worked with large brand agencies to go through this process, which helped prepare her to navigate rebranding politics and complexities with a much smaller team as part of a private company.
“I went out and talked to some of our largest, most trusted customers so we could get more than just an internal perspective. Getting their feedback was critical to building relationships and trust, and they appreciated the ability to give their opinion. I also walked our new investors through the brand, explaining why we went the direction we did and how it was going to make a difference.” said Danielle. “These were critical steps in brand-building.”
Generating positive noise around the rebrand
When they launched the brand there was a lot of excitement. The brand was changing strategy, changing its look and feel, and was taking steps to be more active and visible on social media. They had defined a launch plan revolving around customer and investor communications, assembling a press release, LinkedIn post templates, a logo package, and outreach to investors to share this special update. “Our teams and some external stakeholders felt proud to have been involved,” noted Danielle. “People who I hadn’t expected to post on LinkedIn were posting and joining the conversation. All the noise created by the rebrand was good noise for the company.”
Making sacrifices against tight timelines
Danielle and her team had been working around the clock to get the rebrand finalized in just three months while undergoing due diligence on their next round of investment. “My one regret is that given the short timeline, we didn’t hold employee focus groups in the U.S. or Latin America. However, we did include the brand in our Academy training program, and once employees became familiar with it and had the chance to ask questions, they got behind it,” she explained.
What it takes to succeed
When asking Danielle what advice she’d lend to other start-ups going through a rebrand, she highlighted three things.
After spending time defining the brand, Danielle suggests the most important thing is to keep telling your story to each audience and don’t get too caught up in segmenting the message. “Yes, it’s good to personalize the messages, but at the end of the day your brand is your brand, and you know the strategy, and why it’s important. As you launch the brand it’s most important to get in front of these audiences and use the new brand to strengthen relationships,” she said. “The rebrand gave us a reason to reach out to people and share how the new brand would help us grow. Especially to investors who I normally only communicated with on a quarterly basis. We took every opportunity to share the news.”
Danielle also advises to keep the core working group small. “You don’t need every executive in the company on the core team, and sometimes the most important stakeholder is not the CEO. You certainly want to be in lockstep with the Founder, or whoever makes the final decision, but in order to move quickly, decisions can’t be made by consensus of the entire leadership team.” She discussed the importance of including a stakeholder who has historical knowledge and love for the original brand, but also a newer leader who’s focused on the future to create the necessary balance.
Given the short timeline they were working against at the technology company, Danielle mentioned that she regretted not holding employee focus groups prior to brand launch. “I knew if I couldn’t get internal people onboard after launch, that we weren’t going to be successful,” she said. “So, I took the onus and held open sessions every Friday to listen to questions and complaints. After these discussions, we landed in a place where employees were more excited about the growth and new Fortune 500 clients than they were disappointed that they didn’t weigh in on the brand before it launched.” Moving forward she’ll take the step to bring employees along sooner in the process and advises others to do the same.
Tell us about your rebrand
We were excited to speak with Danielle and learn from her experience as a part of our Tell Us About Your Rebrand series. If you’ve recently gone through a rebrand, no matter what industry, we’d love to hear about it. Reach out at email@example.com to share your thoughts and stories.