After a steady growth for three years, in August 2015, the daily deals and local commerce startup split from its US-based parent firm Groupon and, with help from Sequoia Capital, rebranded itself as Nearbuy.
Despite going through the tough process of rebranding, Nearbuy witnessed a five times growth in the first nine months, and has been growing at a steady pace since. It has also been steadily expanding its customer base and venturing out into the services sector.
In order to understand how the Gurgaon-based startup managed the herculean task of rebranding with such seamlessness, we spoke to Ankur Warikoo, Co-founder and CEO of Nearbuy, at YourStory TechSparks 2016. Rebranding, according to Ankur, is never an easy task to deal with, and needs to take into account three things in particular:
- Never do a brand shift immediately – Customers do not like change, and hence rebranding needs to be a slow and gradual process. According to Ankur, rebranding should ideally be a year-long process, and the entire exercise needs to be carried out with great patience. “Groupon is a fairly big brand. More than a year has passed since we initiated rebranding ourselves as Nearbuy, and we are only about 60-70 percent done,” Ankur says.
- Constant communication with customers – The customers need to be communicated about the change and why it is happening. Even if nothing changes for the customer, they need to be reassured about that.
- Think about all stakeholders – Vendors such as consulting agencies, digital agencies, and branding agencies need to be kept in loop when rebranding is done. “Our merchants are equally important. More so because we pay our merchants after the customer pays us. So there is a trust involved, and they need to be reassured that rebranding is not going to affect that,” Ankur adds.
Easy as it may sound, communicating with the customers is the most difficult part. Rebranding involves a major shakeup of one’s identity and brand, and sacrificing the hard-earned familiarity a startup builds with its customers. Ankur adds:
“We knew why and what to communicate with our customers. But we did now know how to communicate. How do we communicate with our customers without spamming them?”
While seamless communication with one’s customer may vary from business to business, this can be best achieved by understanding one’s customers and breaking them down into smaller categories based on their affinity to different media.
Customers who are digitally inclined can be targeted digitally, while customers who are not digitally inclined and use the platform just to save money need to be addressed differently.
“I recently met the head of global marketing of Groupon who sits in the board of Nearbuy. He told me how Groupon has been sending postcards to its customers in the US with coupons in them. And this is working in a fantastic way. So the possibilities are actually endless.”