When I joined Appian as CMO last December, the world was in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, the low-code automation market was exploding as companies reacted to massive change, and Forrester was predicting that 75% of application development would be using low-code platforms (up from 44% in 2020) by the end of 2021. In other words, the time was ripe to update the Appian brand for the coming decade of change.
But we didn’t just want to reposition Appian to reap the benefits of the low-code revolution. We also wanted to accelerate the company’s already remarkable growth rate.
As CMO, I wanted Appian to come into 2021, not only being proud that we were growing at 30 to 40% per year, but I also wanted to help the company grow and evolve the brand.
That meant reexamining every aspect of our brand from type, color palette, and logo, to photo style, brand architecture, iconography, web design and more. So, whether you’re navigating the Appian website, experiencing a virtual event (like Appian World), or reading one of our white papers, we want our brand to convey simplicity and speed because that’s precisely what our software does.
At a high level, rebranding is not an individual activity. It’s a total company sport. Turns out having over 25 years of enterprise tech marketing experience under my belt made navigating the rebranding process that much easier. Before joining Appian, I was involved in rebrands at WorkForce Software, a private equity funded firm and software giant SAP, where I served as Global COO for the company’s $10 billion Industry Cloud business unit.
At WorkForce, I quarterbacked a cross-functional team that led a massive rebrand after the company acquired another firm. I really leaned into the challenges of aligning marketing with sales, rebranding a company from start to finish, driving digital marketing, and bringing marketing to the forefront as an important stakeholder for overall company growth. All of that experience prepared me for my journey from rebrand to demand to sustainable business growth at Appian.
If a brand reflects the culture and values of an organization, the Appian rebrand represents the ease of doing business with us, the ease of working with our software.
If you think about the power of our low-code platform, it provides better business and IT collaboration to solve business problems. It bridges the gap between packaged software, business process management, and the entire spectrum of hyperautomation technologies. It’s about ease of use and augmenting the capabilities of human workers with digital tools. Nuances like these are an integral part of our rebrand. The big question is, do you get that from looking at our new brand? That’s what we’re shooting for.
From a CMO perspective, one of the biggest challenges you see are all the dependencies involved in a rebrand, such as creating brand ambassadors to evangelize the rebrand throughout the organization. These ambassadors were indispensable because it takes an entire village to come in and not only introduce a brand but ensure that it’s adopted consistently throughout the entire organization.
Next, we planned to announce the rebrand in May at Appian World 2021 with customers, partners, analysts, and the media. This gave us enough time to create media kits, and partner kits so our business partners can update all of our branding as well. Long story short, there was an entire ecosystem we needed to touch. Finally, in June we plan to extend the rebrand to building signage and other physical assets.
8 Keys to Rebranding Success:
My tip for any CMO doing a rebrand is not to forget it takes the entire village to get the job done. Secondly, be sure to look at every single dependency in your rebrand process. Third, as with any staged project, don’t expect a big bang payoff. Think of it as a multi-phased effort which means making sure you execute all elements of the project plan.
Getting senior management buy-in can make or break a rebrand.
Altogether, we had almost 40 meetings just to get senior buy-in for the brand refresh. Every time we had a win, whether it be the logo approval or a sample of the website, I would update our executive team and the people in our stand-ups to get feedback as part of the process. Altogether, over 400 people touched the refresh before we officially launched at Appian World.
To paraphrase the iconic jazz innovator Miles Davis: Rebranding is about change, about evolution. It’s not about standing still and playing it safe. To keep innovating, you have to be about change.