Rebranding? 12 steps to doing the tech right [Opinion]

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After closing a $3 million funding round in September our online home services marketplace Movesouq rebranded to Servicemarket.

The technical side of the rebrand was the main thing we thought about and we positioned all elements of the rebrand around it - from marketing to operations - and getting it right has been crucial.

Servicemarket.com is one of the very few examples of UAE-based businesses who have successfully gone through a major rebrand. As an online marketplace, we were risking our entire business because a domain change impacts everything. Whether it’s the performance of your ads on Google Adwords or all the search engine optimization you’ve done over the years – it is all affected.

(Image via Servicemarket)

Here’s how we did it

We planned. We can’t emphasize that enough. We created a plan for the technological changes we would need to make and divided each task into a pre-launch, launch day, or post-launch item. This helped us keep track of everything and not feel overwhelmed with a shared document that had at least 10 rows added to it everyday.

There were several steps we had to take to make sure the technical side of the business would be ready on day one and that we could switch domains smoothly. Let’s deep-dive into the steps involved:

1. Buy your domain and variations of it: We conducted surveys and organized focus groups to come to the name ‘Servicemarket’ over a year ago. We bought the www.servicemarket.com domain as soon as it was shortlisted, and that saved us a lot of time when we started the process of switching our domains over.

2. Get your social handles: Once the name is finalized, you should get all your social handles. Make a list of all the social media accounts you need, the usernames, and what email and password you used to make the account. You will need to keep these in a safe place because if you, like us, have spent a significant amount of time earning likes and building a fanbase, you’ll want to just be able to switch the names rather than starting with new accounts.

3. Put the new domain live: Once you buy the domain, try to put it live with at least one page rather than keeping it parked. This will help Google and other search engines find your domain faster and reduces the length of time it takes to start indexing it into search results.

4. Set up Google Webmaster: Once your new domain is live, you also set it up on Google Webmaster to monitor its performance (be sure to keep it on the same account as your old domain). No one should be searching for it unless you’re building hype around it, but it’s a good idea to set this up early on because you’ll have plenty of things to do on the days leading up to the domain switch. Google Webmaster is also a crucial tool you need to use on the day of the switch for two things: (1) change of address tool and (2) fetching and rendering your new site.

5. Set up Google Analytics or another tracking software: Whether you use Google Analytics or another tracking software to monitor your website’s traffic and conversions, be sure to have a plan in place on setting up the new domain as well. If you’re not tracking your site, you won’t know how the new domain is doing.

6. Benchmark your KPIs: Make sure you backup all your keyword ranking data, your traffic data, and other KPIs you track so you’re able to measure the performance of your new domain.

7. Start redesigning your communication early on: At Servicemarket, we communicate with suppliers and customers through SMS, emails, and calls. That meant that we needed to make sure all customer service agents were prepared to answer questions about the rebrand, and answered the phone with “Hello this is Servicemarket” rather than “Movesouq” - it’s a little difficult since we’ve been saying “Movesouq” for three years. Start by making a list of every communication message that is sent out and start compiling them in one place. You then need to set aside time to go through the content and update your address, your name, and the logo in these messages. If you changed your brand colors, you will need to update that as well.

8. Update your blog: We dedicate a lot of resources to our servicemarket.com blog, which only carries custom artwork and unique content. Our content team had to update all image assets to include our new logo, and go through every single blog post to make sure any reference to “movesouq.com” was changed to “servicemarket.com”.

9. Have an app? Don’t forget to update it: App stores take time to accept changes, especially aspects like changing your app name, so get started with the process as soon as you can.

10. Dedicate tech resources to the new domain ASAP: Our tech team had their own plan that outlined every nitty gritty detail about what needed to be done. From making a backup of the site to checking every URL to making sure everything was linked to the right pages. We needed to make sure the experience on servicemarket.com would be as seamless as movesouq.com.

11. Verify your new email domain and plan to migrate: Once you have your new domain, be sure to also verify your new email domain to make sure it’s available. Luckily for us, we use Google for emails so the migrating process was pretty seamless, but we only learned that after we tested it thoroughly.

12. Make an hourly schedule for launch day: Launch day will be crazy. It will feel like you’re about to go into battle, and you’ll be nervous but you cannot afford to forget anything. An extremely detailed launch checklist will get you through the few hours you have ahead of you. Since changes will be made across operations, technology, SEO, and marketing, there will be tasks that are dependent on others (for example, flipping the social media handles so your marketing team can update the profile pictures and cover photos) and a detailed list will ensure everyone involved is following the same plan - kind of like running a three legged race. As long as your launch day checklist is as detailed as “update Facebook description” and “test email forwarding on support@movesouq.com”, it’ll be a breeze.

It’s been about a month since we’ve launched as Servicemarket and we have successfully managed to retain our rankings. Rebranding is a complicated process and you will need to plan properly in order to pull it off.

Feature image via Servicemarket.

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