Previously in this series, Kevin Colligan, program manager for Acquia Professional Services, explained why everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Catch up and read Kevin's blog, here.
For the past four months, Acquia’s marketing team has been leading the redesign of Acquia.com. We’ve been sharing what we’ve learned along the way, from how to approach a content audit for a 6-year-old site to why teams should rely on process when plans go off the rails. No matter the obstacle, one thing is clear: A project of this scale exposes challenges that you could previously afford to ignore.
One hurdle that we have uncovered through the redesign process is that Acquia wrestles to communicate a strong brand statement. Simply put, we struggle to talk about who we are and what that means to our customers.
Establishing a brand message that sticks has been a challenge because Acquia has changed and grown so much over the course of its first decade. What began as a startup that offered commercial support for Drupal has grown into a company that is writing the book on data-driven customer journeys. In the past month alone, we have launched Node.js on Acquia Cloud, Acquia Journey, and Acquia DAM; three products that build on our foundation of open source and cloud. As our product strategy has evolved, the kind of customers we work with has also changed. Today, Acquia is helping iconic brands tackle their most ambitious projects. However, as Acquia has matured, we’ve struggled to communicate our worth to the outside world.
Forced to Deal
Acquia’s marketing team ran into a challenge that companies across every industry face: It is difficult to evolve brand identity at the same rate as product strategy.
An outdated brand identity has been looming in the background for sometime. However, it became a hinderance as we entered the design stage for the new Acquia.com.
Huge has done incredible work to help Acquia’s marketing team reimagine what Acquia.com will look like and how users will interact with it. Although the marketing team was excited about launching a new design and interface, we couldn’t escape a dated brand identity. Attempting to develop brand lines and key messaging without an established brand identity was like playing a buzzword-filled game of mad libs.
For the new site design to be successful, there had to be a strong message behind it. Purpose, personality and a strong brand identity would have to inform every homepage banner, product skew and case study blurb.
The redesign of Acquia.com served as the catalyst for an overhaul of Acquia’s branding and key messaging. It serendipitously shined a light on our brand challenge and forced us to deal with it.
Finding our Voice
A brand identity wasn’t something Huge could just make up for us. We would need to work together to figure it out.
Huge was the brilliant and bold partner we needed to push us out of our comfort zone and in the right direction. In partnership with Huge, our team has taken the following steps to guide the evolution of Acquia’s brand:
- Internal stakeholder interviews
- Competitive audit
- Customer and prospect interviews
All of the insights gathered from stakeholder interviews, customer feedback, and a competitive audit informed a brand positioning workshop that Huge moderated for our executive team. During the workshop, we relied on this feedback to build a strategic framework. In our strategic framework we defined Acquia’s:
- Purpose: Who we are and the value we provide our key audiences.
- Personality: The attributes that define how we look, sound and behave.
- Voice & Tone: Defining how we speak and act
The strategic framework that we developed with Huge is the nucleus for our brand position and messaging guide. This guide will be our source of truth for how we communicate our brand and value.
It’s Not Over Until … Ever.
Our team has already made great strides in redefining our brand strategy. We’ve taken Huge’s guidance and have internalized it, shaped it, and have started to expand it further into usable messaging.
However, evolving our brand identity will always be a work in progress, just like we are. Refining our brand strategy doesn’t end with a new site launch, and there will be three phases of our brand roll out:
- Get internal buy-in: It’s important that every Acquain feels ownership and pride over new brand messaging. While this brand shift was inspired by the website redesign, it’s impact will not be exclusive to Acquia.com. It will be the marketing department’s responsibility to communicate how the new brand strategy can be adopted across every department.
- Launch internally: Create the proper system of resources, internal communications, and brand assets that can be used by every Acquian to go to market. This is about providing a global organization of 800 people with accessible tools to be consistent in living up to the brand promise. Without that, a brand launch fails every time.
- Roll-out publicly: Once we have rolled out our brand strategy internally, we will have to translate this strategy into action. This is require an public brand launch that includes both PR and a brand campaign. We will need to ensure consistent brand behavior and identity across all of our front lines, such as marketing, sales, engineering, and HR. Aligning the entire company under one brand identity is what will allow us to truly scale and bring the brand to life.
We are looking forward to share our newly minted brand messaging because it’s a clear reflection of who Acquia is. Every company has to consider playing catch up when the services and products they provide customers grow faster than the brand itself. It’s a challenge we’ve experienced firsthand.
The difference is, we were lucky to find partner like Huge to provide outside perspective and guidance. Huge has helped us lay the groundwork for a strong brand identity - now it’s our turn to run with it.