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OutboundEngine Rebrand: Behind the Scenes

Andrew Szatan
March 20, 2017

OutboundEngine is thrilled to unveil our new brand identity. But this wasn’t just an arts and crafts project — it’s the meaningful result of months of research and development, and it communicates who we are and what we want to become. Here’s the inside story of our SaaS rebrand.

Why Bother?

Some startups get lucky. They begin with a clear market opportunity and a mission that everyone can rally around, and that initial vision is big enough to encompass everything a company is and wants to become. But most iterate a few times, find new product applications or market segments, and need to deliberately adjust how they think about themselves.

We’re in that second group. A few months ago, after three straight years of 100%+ annual growth, we looked around and realized that OutboundEngine had evolved to a point where we needed to refine how we communicate with the market, employees and the community at large. Specifically, it was becoming clear that our core messaging and visual identity hadn’t kept up with some big changes:

  • Our product has expanded far beyond email and now solves more marketing problems than ever for our customers.
  • We’re now serving over ten industries, up from four just a couple of years ago.
  • We have a wider variety of customer sizes. We always have been and always will be proud to serve individual business owners, but we found that larger companies are interested in OutboundEngine, too.

Those are all good things, but our broader scope made it harder to define what we do and stay focused on where we can have the biggest impact.

So, we saw a clear need to sharpen our identity, more clearly communicate how we help customers right now, and provide a framework for thinking about how we can help them in the future. Not a small undertaking, but entirely necessary to sustain our growth.

Ingredients for a Successful SaaS Rebrand

The real impact of our rebrand will be felt over months and years, but we’ve already counted one big win: our whole team is bought in and eager to embrace the new OutboundEngine. They can see how it helps solve challenges they face, how it will help customers understand what we do, and how it will move the company forward. There were a few major elements of the project that contributed to that.

  1. A strong sense of purpose and clearly defined goals. Ours were:
    • Create a clear and consistent way to describe why we exist.
    • Deliver a more relevant message to the growing variety of customers we have.
    • Foster an emotional bond between OutboundEngine, employees and customers.
    • Elevate our visual identity to convey our broader ambitions.
  2. An awesome creative agency. While something as fundamental as a brand identity necessarily has to come largely from within, we wanted a third party to contribute new ideas, help resolve conflicts and avoid the distractions that operating a fast-growing company can bring. After a long search, we brought What.It.Is on board for the project.
  3. Lots of employee engagement. 300 people have to walk into our office every day and live and breathe OutboundEngine. We wanted to create a brand they could rally around so, we asked them to help us define OutboundEngine using a few tools:
    • A survey of every employee
    • One-on-one and group interviews, in all departments and at all levels
    • Focus groups where we shared working drafts of the brand platform
    • Brand ambassadors embedded in every team to surface feedback and serve as front-line brand experts before and after launch day
  4. Customer research. We had the explicit goals of making our value proposition more clear and doing a better job of communicating with different customer segments, so we interviewed more than two dozen customers one-on-one and in focus groups, and we collected 800+ survey responses via email.
  5. A willingness to embrace change. For a process like this to work, everyone involved needs to be ready to challenge the status quo in the name of putting the whole team on stronger footing for the future. Our team put some big ideas on the table, like changing our name. We didn’t adopt every idea, but knowing that no stone was left unturned gives us even more confidence in the work we’ve done.

The New OutboundEngine

After all of that, we ended up with a detailed brand messaging platform and a new visual identity to match. Here’s a rundown of a couple of a few key elements.

Mission Statement: OutboundEngine helps businesses grow by making online marketing simple and easy for everyone. We make our customers look great online and keep them in front of people they know, automatically, so they can build stronger relationships, uncover new opportunities and stay focused on what they do best.

Our new mission statement acknowledges our broader audience and the fact that we’ve grown beyond email and social media. And it highlights the common threads in what our products do and the value they deliver for customers. But it also narrows our focus by stating a couple of key differentiators: OutboundEngine is all about “the people you know” as opposed to a pure lead-gen product, and we’re committed to done-for-you marketing because we know that our customers aren’t interested in tools they have to run themselves. That captures what we do now, and it lays down some broad guidelines for how we approach the future.

Brand Pillars & Voice

We identified three core pillars that define OutboundEngine and matched each with a voice characteristic to help us communicate each of them to our audiences. And we added a fourth, overarching voice characteristic (“Narrative”) to help tie all of our communications together. Together, these things give us a grounded sense of who we are and a consistent way to communicate with each other, our customers and the outside world.

outboundengine rebrand 1

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The brand platform contains multiple layers of messaging designed for different channels, audiences and assets. We’ll be rolling it all out over the coming weeks and will use it as a baseline for all future messaging we develop.

Visual Identity

In updating the look and feel of OutboundEngine, we wanted to communicate our evolution to the market, modernize our aesthetic, and create a system that’s easier for designers to work with. We started with our logo mark.
outboundengine rebrand 2

And we supported our new mark with a wordmark and type system based on GT America by Grilli Type.

outboundengine rebrand 2

Finally, we updated our color system to refresh our trademark orange and add energy with vibrant secondary colors. Our colors are supported by lots of white space to create a feeling of lightness and ease–exactly what we want our software to deliver for customers–and the strong contrast of black text. The system is bold and demands attention, but without being overwhelming–right in line with our brand pillars.

outboundengine rebrand 4

Never Lose Touch

And, finally, our tagline. We used to say that OutboundEngine is “Your Marketing on Autopilot,” and that’s still true. In fact, that old gem may still make an appearance every now and again. But it’s a bit too broad for everyday use. While our product does more than ever, it doesn’t literally do all of your marketing for you. For example, we don’t do SEO, or manage ad spend, or create brands (except this one!).

We know that for our customers, the vast majority of transactions are driven by a happy customer coming back or referring their friends. Because of that, we deeply believe that the best thing a business owner can do is nurture the relationships they’ve already worked hard to build. That is what all of our products do, and that is the bar that new products will have to meet if we’re going to build them.

OutboundEngine grows your business by keeping you in front of the people you know and strengthening your most important relationships: we make sure you never lose touch.

outboundengine rebrand 4

Wrap-up

So there you have it. A message that speaks to a broader audience and gives us room to grow, but keeps us focused around the core principle that your best source of new business is the network you already have. An energetic new visual identity that shows our growth and modernizes our aesthetic. And a higher bar for ourselves, a commitment to to delivering more for our customers, our employees and everyone else who supports OutboundEngine. Today is just the beginning. We couldn’t be more excited about this evolution and look forward to delivering on its promise.

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