Behind every successful company is a story. This week, we added the latest chapter to the Monsoon Commerce story with the reveal of a dynamic, new brand and visual identity. In concert with the rebrand, we also launched our new blog, “To the Point,” which is focused on sharing e-commerce information, insights, and ideas. In this the first post, I would like to share the back-story of the rebrand, what it means for Monsoon, and why it important to our customers and our future.
The importance of brand often gets lost in B2B companies; this is especially true for single product companies where the product and brand are synonymous. With Monsoon experiencing significant growth over the past eighteen months (both organic and through acquisitions), we felt it was important our brand provide a powerful foundation for not only who we have become, but also support our vision of the future. This past summer as we assessed the current state of the Monsoon brand, it became clear we had three primary areas that needed to be addressed:
- The brand consisted of three un-integrated, product-centric brands
- The positioning was unclear, lacked sufficient substance, and was too narrowly focused
- The brand generally lacked an emotional connection in that it was primary focused on communicating “What we do”
Integrating Three Disparate Brands
The human brain does an amazing job of synthesizing and organizing the tons of information we are exposed to everyday. The resulting information is placed into buckets where it can be easily recalled and understood. This process also applies to how we think about companies and their brands. Every brand is known for something. In simple terms, our three disparate brands mapped out like this:
- Monsoon – Sophisticated tools for media and book sellers on the Amazon Marketplace
- Alibris – A consumer and seller marketplace for hard-to-find books
- Stone Edge Technologies – Affordable order management for small and mid-sized merchants
Setting aside the consumer component of the Alibris brand, it was clear we needed a single brand with a single promise for the merchant and seller segments of our target markets. We also needed to broaden our promise to become more relevant across both product categories and types of merchants—from marketplace only sellers to online store retailers, to multichannel specialty retailers (Internet Retailer 1000).
Keeping it Simple
Even small and mid-sized businesses can be complex organizations. Too often, the language we use to communicate our story to the market and to stakeholders is a maze of over-used jargon and business school lexicon. In his best-selling book All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin nails it when he wrote, “Successful marketers don’t talk about features or even benefits. Instead, they tell a story. A story we want to believe.”
One of our primary objectives for the rebrand was a relentless focus on language. Words matter. First, we wanted to be highly relevant to our target market by communicating “customer in.” This required using their words and language, from their point of view. It also meant using language that makes sense in the context of their business and their objectives. Second, we wanted to keep it simple—crisp, direct language across the brand’s verbal platform. Finally, we wanted our language to be authentic and built on substance. This necessitated a rich set of proof points, customer stories, and clear value drivers.
For B2B marketers, success is no longer a simple matter of making and selling products. Likewise, branding for these companies is no longer just about the advertising and promotion of those products. Today’s most successful brands are able to move beyond awareness and consideration and make a deeper connection with their prospects and customers. Companies focused on creating this “connection” enjoy customer preference that goes way beyond the products they make. According to Simon Sinek, these companies lead with “Why they do it.” In his 2009 TED presentation, Sinek brilliantly articulates why we do not think twice about buying phones, music players, and other devices from a company known for computers—Apple. In fact, we are more than willing to stand in line and pay a premium for these devices and cannot wait to see what they will make next.
The most important part of the rebranding process would be defining our “brand promise.” A statement articulating the enduring goal of the company in basic terms—what we do, who we do it for, and why it matters. This promise would not be a business descriptor or tagline. Rather it would be the simple embodiment of what we make possible for our current and future customers. After much thought and discussion, I am very proud to declare publicly the Monsoon Commerce promise:
We power merchant success online.
These words capture what inspires us, galvanizes us into action, and unites us in purpose. It is an enduring idea that easily captures both today’s realities and tomorrow’s possibilities. This is what Monsoon Commerce stands for and why we get up and come to work every day.
Much More Than a Facelift
Throughout the process, we refined our strategy, created a more comprehensive story across our solutions, and intensified our focus on providing exceptional value to our customers. As I think about the new brand, three things come to mind:
- It is a celebration of our past as three separate companies and our promise for the future as one
- It communicates a compelling story and clearly differentiates Monsoon Commerce in a crowded e-commerce market space
- It an emblem of our ongoing commitment to the online success of our customers
I invite you to see what I mean. Visit our website at www.monsooncommerce.com where you can see our new brand in action. In the coming months, we will be incorporating the same energy, look and feel into everything we do. You will also see there is more to our new brand than a new logo and new look — it is who we are and how we do business. And as you experience the brand, I would love to hear your thoughts, reactions, and comments.