Q&A with Senior Director of Brand, Kristin Dorsey
At the end of 2019, newly appointed CEO of Vision Critical, Ross Wainwright, met with the executive leadership team (ELT) to begin the process of taking the Vision Critical brand to the next level. At that point, no one could have foreseen the challenges 2020 had on the horizon, but through some virtual adapting, a leadership team willing to make tough choices, and a community of customers providing feedback every step of the way, Alida was born.
We sat down with the Senior Director of Brand, Kristin Dorsey to find out more about what it was like to go through a rebrand during COVID and how the team determined it was the right next step for Vision Critical.
What was the initial spark that started this process?
When our CEO, Ross Wainwright, joined in early December of 2019, both he and the board of directors had an appetite for rebranding the company. They wanted to further solidify our growth from the company we were 20 years ago. One of the biggest considerations was not if it should be done, but when. Timing is crucial for a successful rebrand.
At the same time, our product organization was well on their way to supporting the shift of our company into the CXM market, identifying it as the next step in our growth journey as an organization. We needed a brand that could propel us forward in-step with our aggressive innovation agenda.
I recall an early presentation we made to the ELT with a list of core reasons that companies typically undergo a rebrand—we hit every reason on the list but one. It wasn’t a single sign pointing towards rebrand, it was every sign pointing towards a new step forward for Vision Critical.
Who was involved in the rebrand process?
I joined the organization a week after the CEO, so the rebrand was a top priority for me from day one. Since a rebrand is such a massive undertaking, our senior leaders were very involved from the beginning. Across the board, everyone felt strongly that it was the right thing to do, despite having small differences on the best path forward. It takes a village and we certainly made sure everyone was included in the process.
To ensure each team was a part of the process, we formed a cross-functional team of brand ambassadors that represented every area of the business. The ambassadors ensured their department was reflected in our new brand and helped ensure we were making the right decisions for our entire business.
We also worked closely with our partners, giving a sneak peek to our top partners to ensure alignment with their organizations and growth plans for the future.
And last but certainly not least, our customers played a major role in this process. From the beginning, as is a part of our DNA, we knew we needed to bring in customer feedback and involve our customers as much as possible. Throughout the entire process, our customers helped us make sure we were making the right decisions.
How did you involve customers in the process?
Having a community of customers, through Alida Sparq, was instrumental in providing a channel to hear directly from our customers. We put a lot of effort into making sure we asked the right questions. Our top consideration with the rebrand was caring for our customers and how they would feel about the change.
The initial surveys to customers were focused on understanding sentiment and perceptions around brands in general. We collected feedback on the types of brands they identify with and dug deeper into what attributes of those brands resonate most with our customers. We also collected feedback on customers’ current feelings around the Vision Critical brand.
I would be remiss to not mention that this same survey was also done with our employees around the globe. Our employees are on the frontlines, having conversations with customers and wearing the VC badge. It was important for us to bring in their feedback and ensure our new brand reflected their experiences and feelings as well.
What did you learn from the customer insight and how did it impact the process?
The biggest surprise for me was how receptive everyone was to “approachable” and “empathetic” as core brand attributes. Across the board, our customers felt the top brand trait was human—a feeling of empathy. This is atypical for a rebrand. Brands are subjective, so feedback is typically all over the place. I was shocked to see alignment in sentiment from our customers.
That was an important realization because we had some very real concerns that customers wouldn’t be receptive to changing the brand. We thought the safer answer would have been to keep with that status quo.
How did you overcome the safe answer to keep with that status quo?
We learned from listening to our customers that the safe answer wasn’t to keep with the status quo. We were throwing changes at them the same time the world was, but in their greatest time of need, our brand wasn’t seen as the safe harbor for them that we wanted it to be.
We knew that in order to get where we wanted to go and support our customers the way they wanted to be supported, we needed to bring more humanity to our brand. We needed to bring empathy to the forefront of everything we are, not just with what we tell our customers. It was through that discovery we realized that doing nothing would be the worst decision we could make.
How did COVID impact this process?
We were in the middle of booking our initial discovery workshops with a local brand agency in Toronto, The Garden, when COVID hit. We realized quickly that the typical in-person sessions weren’t going to be feasible in the current global climate. Neither I, nor the agency, had ever gone through this process virtually, but we had to quickly pivot to virtual alternatives.
The Garden really stepped up and did a phenomenal job keeping the process moving forward. They were instrumental in ensuring every step of the process was completed without compromise.
The global pandemic put a big question mark over the whole project as well. We had to reconsider if this was still the right time to make this massive change within the organization or if it should be put on hold.
How did you determine to move forward?
We have a fantastic leadership team and board of directors who, despite the risks, agreed that strategically this was the right decision for our business. We needed to boldly head in that direction and take a leap of faith.
The support of our customers really helped us know we were moving in the right direction. We knew from their feedback that this was the step they needed us to take to better support them.
We needed to be better as a brand and connect with our customers and the market. Armed with customer validation, we knew Alida was the right step for our customers and our business. I’m so proud to finally announce our new brand to the world so we can begin our new journey as Alida.