How Babbel successfully rebranded

Meeting notes from talking with a Senior Brand Manager at Babbel

Thanks to Rory that I had a chance to have a coffee with Jim — the Senior Brand Manager at Babbel. I learned so much from him. He went through the whole rebranding process that took place at Babbel during 2017 with me. From the initiation of the project, how the rebranding team is structured, to how they collaborated with an agency in London, …etc. Thank you, Jim, for taking the time to share your experience with me.

I would love to share my learnings:

Step 1 — Define your objective

Every project starts with an objective. Depending on the objective you will know how much time and how many resources are needed. At Babbel, the CMO initiated the rebranding project, because he understands the value of rebranding and knows it’s worth investing in. Conversely, sales-oriented marketers usually don’t see the value of design because it is creating a feeling so the value will only become apparent in long-term.

Step 2 — Find the right people

Find people with expertise in branding and design frameworks. The CEO should empower the experts to do their job. It’s wrong to let a person who doesn’t have the expertise make the decision. Let the decision maker make the decision. If there are no experts in the team, look for outside help. Be very careful about choosing an agency; again you need an expert to choose the agency. If you choose a wrong agency, it is the same as hiring the wrong people, and in the end, you will just waste time, money, with no good results to show for it.

Step 3 — Define the brand strategy

Babbel’s branding team researched their brand history, competitors, and what users feel about ‘learning languages’, in order to come up with a strategic approach to the rebranding project. (The ‘users’ here mean all language learners, not just the existing users.) They had to define their key messages they wanted users to take-away from the new brand and what they wanted to promise to the users. As much as the strategy should specify we will do, it should also be clear about what we will not do. The tone of voice to talk to users with is also very important and needs to be defined in the brand strategy.

Step 4 — Define the design framework

After the creative strategy document had been finalized, they started working on a design framework (creative guideline). The process will be: Choose one that feels right, commit to it, use it consistently. Branding is not so much about usability, since the human brain is highly adaptable. Therefore, it’s impossible to ask users what they prefer, it’s impractical. Using crowd-sourcing for creativity is the worst thing. Sometimes when people say they don’t like the rebranding result, 70% of the time there is no good reasons behind it.

Choose one that feels right, commit to it, use it consistently.

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