Rebranding a Newly Acquired Business: They Told Me Not To

Rebranding a Newly Acquired Business: They Told Me Not To

Not long ago, I purchased an online business. When I bought the business, it came with its own, pretty well known brand, was a fairly profitable business and had a loyal client base. After obtaining the business, I pondered over completely rebranding it. The business didn’t require a fresh image, but it was something I personally felt would be a profitable choice as the new owner. I had plans to grow the business prior to acquiring it and giving it a brand make-over is just one of the ways I hoped to do so.

During the planning process, I consulted with business coaches, owners, and even those who worked in the same type of service based business. During that time, I had not one, but two business coaches tell me NOT to rebrand it. Both suggested rebranding the site was not necessary due to the fact it already had its own unique brand.

This led me to really think about which direction I wanted to take the business. I also had a hard decision to make in deciding just how willing I was to possibly lose current clients or turn future clients away. No one wants to think they may lose faithful clients, especially when acquiring a new business that has reached successful status. However, the more I thought about the direction I wanted to go and the types of clients I wanted to attract, the more I realized the following:

1. If the previous owner was the only reason they did business with the site chances are likely that they were eventually going to leave anyway, regardless of whether I took the site in a new direction or not.

2. Those clients who stayed on board did so because of the quality my team had given them since I took over. If they were happy with our services and we maintained those same services and quality, they would continue working with us no matter what I chose to do with the brand.

I planned to continue with the same services and have even added a few more. Therefore, the choice based on those two items was fairly easy. I now had one plus on my pros and cons of rebranding list.

My ultimate goal was to grow the business. I now had to think about the types of clients I hoped to attract in the future to make this possible. This is where rebranding gets a bit personal. Branding is more than just a logo and tagline. It also includes the ideals, direction and personality of the business. In the case of an online service based business, this means the owner, team members, and customers, given that they all make up the business.

This is another of the reasons I deliberated rebranding the business. When I took over, it had already changed hands once. The current brand reflected the original owner perfectly. However, the brand wasn’t really representative of my personality or the professionalism I wanted to portray.

I wanted a broader, more qualified image that reflected who I am as a person and more of the actual services offered. Yes, the previous site was good at letting people know that articles were their forte due to the fact the word article was in their name. However, I wanted to reach more than just business owners who needed ghostwritten articles. When someone simply sees the word “article” it doesn’t tell them right off the bat what it is the business is all about. If someone is searching for a service that creates special reports or sales pages for example, would the word article turn them away because they think at first glance that it’s only an article writing service?

What about the person who does needs articles ghostwritten? Due to the previous business name, it wasn’t really clear if it provided article writing services or something else. See where I’m going? I wanted to capture a broader range of customers that needed more than just articles written. By changing not only the brand, but the name of the business as well, I would be opening the playing field to a bigger range of possible customers.

Of course, these are not the ONLY things I had to consider before deciding whether or not to go forward with the rebranding of the business, but they were a big part of the thinking and planning process. I knew the business was doing well when I purchased it and absolutely respected the decisions of those who told me I shouldn’t rebrand it (after all they are business coaches for a reason and very good at what they do). Even after all these things, I still felt in my gut rebranding was necessary to get where I wanted to be with this business. Therefore, I went ahead with my original plans and gave the site a completely new look and feel.

I’m happy to say the results have been phenomenal! In the less than two months since the rebranding process was complete and Get Content Results (formerly Article Mojo) was opened to the public, I have more than doubled my client base!

Vera Raposo

Vera Raposo has been an entrepreneur since age 22, owning 5 retail store locations.
In 2007, she closed and sold all locations to pursue her online business.Now she's living out an entrepreneurs dream having successfully turned business into a venture that's completely online.

You can reach her at veraATclickcreateshare.com.

Comments

  1. Wow Vera that is fantastic news, congratulations! I really loved this post not only because I’m familiar with Article Mojo but also because of the fact that you talk about how branding is personal. For me, branding was not an easy thing to understand but I am beginning to realize that your brand just needs to really represent who you are and how you want people to feel when they see your business.

    Great information and great job on going with your gut.

    Angela

  2. When you decided to buy this business Vera, were you just interested in buying their audience?

    It sounds as though you are planning to change the focus. If that’s the case, then re-branding makes sense. What was the rational for not re-branding from the consultants?
    I would agree with them if the existing focus was on target with you and you only wanted to expand on it’s scope of services. Then it’s just a new marketing campaign.

    You know – NEW name, NEW focus, NEW personality – sounds like a re-brand is the smart move to me.

  3. Great article Vera,

    You obviously put a lot of thought into the decision to re-brand. I think most clients expect a degree of change when someone else buys the business. I’m sure if you can demonstrate the value in the new offer, they’ll happily stay with you.

    Based on your recent results it looks like the change has been succesful. Well done.

  4. Hi Vera,

    New reader here. Thanks for your post. I agree, rebranding a recently acquired business is always a little nerve-wracking–but you did a great job thinking it through and making sure your brand reflects your business’ intentions.

    Congratulations on your recent success!
    Katie Langston

  5. Angela – Thanks, I was planning this from the day I purchased it but second guessed myself for a while before going for it.

    Ed – I didn’t entirely change the focus of the site, but wanted it to match my personality and business ideas. The reason I was given is that Article Mojo is pretty well known and has it’s own brand for a few years. I was concerned about upsetting any current clients but realized that it really didn’t matter to them as long as I was taking care of their needs.

    Allan – Yes, I think people can expect change. I compared it to my offline business. I purchased another store location that was from a competitor. When I took over, of course I didn’t leave their sign still hanging, I changed it. It just made sense to me.

    Katie – Welcome to the blog and thanks for posting! I believe it was the best decision for me that’s for sure. And it shows when I increased my client load very quickly.

  6. Vera, I love the way you have streamlined your business incorporating everything your doing under one umbrella. You compared it to when you purchased a store, how it was so natural for you to put your own brand on the sign .It only goes to show the confidence you have in your capabilities,and your creative ideas, your clients are probably very excited to see what next you have to offer, and just when they think they’ve seen it all you offer them more. Kind of like what your doing at small business branding,I recognise your flexability, we need that to survive in our business world. Thanks for the breath of fresh air!

  7. Vera,

    A great buy, I must say – congratulations.

    Ghostwriting services is booming, as unique contents are more and more important today.

    I understand that you wouldn’t disclose any numbers regarding the biz price tag, but could you suggest a hint or two, to inspire us?

    Cheers!

  8. As one of the coaches who advised you against a rebrand when you purchased Article Mojo I’ll speak up and both defend my position from the past and affirm your recent decision.

    I know that holding off from a rebrand when you first purchased Article Mojo was the right decision. You were making a LOT of transitions in business at the time and things really needed to mellow a bit.

    Article Mojo was getting excellent referrals based on the personal recommendations of many well known marketers – so the value was very much in the brand name. A sudden brand change would have been detrimental at the time.

    Fast forward several months to the present – you are settled in your new business and you’re working to develop a variety of services under a new brand. At this point it makes perfect sense to bring Article Mojo into the fold both as a new brand for your existing clients and for you to be able to cross promote the different services you plan to provide.

    I notice that Article Mojo still exists as a brand – are you planning to merge it in completely or let it stand? (I thought from reading the above that you already had.)

  9. Kelly – Good points, there was a ton going on when I purchased Article Mojo as it was just a couple of months after grabbing this site.

    It was a hard decision considering the site was getting alot of exposure from the well known marketers too. What I did was show them exactly the service that I wanted to give them and my clients were even cheering me on for the decision. 🙂

    As for AM, I will be redirecting it all over to the new site, I only left it up so people could check it out and see the before and after.

    In the end I’m so happy that I went for it and I think because I’m so happy with it that it shows to all of my clients.

  10. Vera, I think you’re leaving out some subtly important points here that maybe your coach’s made clear to you. I feel you’re doing a disservice to your readers by not making it crystal clear.

    As far as I can tell, you haven’t actually rebranded anything yet. You created a totally new website. Maybe it has the same back end article writing provider as the original, and you probably plan to rebrand the original site eventually. In any event the new site is FAR superior to the old one in many many ways, so a big congrats on that!

    There are differences between rebranding a business and rebranding a website. Since your business is web based, it’s a VERY important point to stress to your readers.

    To rebrand a brick and mortar business, you send out fliers to locals, put up signs, have a grand re-opening, etc. It’s about informing people of the change and creating excitement around the change to generate new business.

    You can do the same for the web site EXCEPT for the search engines. Search enginers see rebranding and redirects as generally bad things. Article Mojo has traffic, it has Page Rank, it has Alexa Rank, it has backlinks, etc. All the things you need to have your site rise in the search engine rankings.

    Suddently flipping a switch and pointing Article Mojo with a redirect to a totally new site may make Search Engines drop your ranking like a rock. It will look like a spam redirect if you do it incorrectly. Until the day you’re willing to shut off the Article Mojo website (because the traffic is so low compared to your new “brand), you’ll want to keep it partially as or it will be in effect shutting it down. Leave it with mostly the same layout on the front page and slowly rebrand it over the course of months. Add rebranding ads around it (Article Mojo has merged with Get Content Results to serve you better!) and change the order pages to the new type, etc. Give Google enough time to catch up and keep yp with your changes and you’ll not only keep your organic search traffic, but augment it by making Google think your site is dynamic and updating.

    As soon as you do a full redirect to the new site, be prepared to lose all the organic search traffic you get from Article Mojo. Avoid it if at all possible.

  11. Hi Remo,

    From a purely technical perspective, it is possible to rebrand your website (using redirects) without it dropping like a stone on the SERPs, provided the content and core focus is similar, which seems to be the case here.

    Vera, well done on your new initiative, doubling your clientele in such a short space of time certainly is an awesome achievement, here’s to reaching even greater heights in the year ahead!