3 Lessons In Rebranding Your MSP

Thinking about rebranding your MSP? Whether that’s a new name, a new logo, or a new mission, a rebrand signifies a major shift, a turning point in your organization. Here’s an inside look at three MSPs who recently rebranded. They share their tips and challenges faced along the way.

For Mad Data IO, an MSP based in Frisco, Texas, their rebranding included a new name and image to match their new mission. “I was taking over as CEO and we decided to move into cybersecurity,” says Mary Hamiliton, Mad Data’s CEO.

“Mad Data used to be an internal acronym for our old name: Mid-Atlantic Data. When I took over, I knew I had to use it,” she recounts. “The genesis of our [new] name was understanding what other providers were doing to clients and the lack of care, security, education, and certainty they were providing. Those conversations gave me a lot of passion–I’m mad! I hate the way so many clients are treated in the IT industry. The name Mad Data really grew into the passion behind what we do.”

To match their new name, Mad Data IO developed a new brand image utilizing striking blacks, whites, and reds. “Before we rebranded, our look was very sterile. It’s very typical in our industry–most of the color schemes are the same. There’s a lot of yellows, blues, oranges, whites, and grays. It feels very sterile, disconnected, and cold to me. People connect to the new name and look,” Hamilton says. “We’re creating a brand people understand and can relate to.”

Looking Good On The Ice Rink – And Beyond

When Michael Goldstein, a huge hockey fan, had the chance to become an advertising partner for the NHL, he jumped at it. However, he quickly realized his company logo looked outdated and forgettable next to the larger brands. “Our old logo served us well, but the graphic and the font didn’t apply well on ice,” explains the president of LAN Infotech. “One of the most important things for me is our two minutes of ice time on TV; I wanted a logo that had a little more pop to it and didn’t look like it was 14 years old.”

But what LAN Infotech wasn’t prepared for was the overwhelming success of the new look. “Hockey season started in early October. We weren’t ready for the full launch yet, but we had it on ice and people started noticing it,” says Goldstein. “Then we did a full-scale press release that went out to all of our customers. And I’ll tell you that I have never gotten so many responses. I could have offered them free services and I wouldn’t have gotten that many responses. People loved the new look.”

Design With A Purpose

For Netzbahn, their major logo redesign went hand-in-hand with their restructured business objectives—providing regulatory compliance consulting. Norbert Doeberlein, CEO of the Lake Mills, Wisc.-based company, explains the restructuring this way: “For Netzbahn to continue utilizing ‘tools’ and offering specific services, our insurance would have increased 8x, on top of the additional liability solution providers now face. We therefore changed our model to focus on contract and cyber insurance compliance and peer consulting for vendors, solution providers, and end users.”

This marked a substantial change for the business that necessitated a facelift for its 20-year-old logo. However, Doeberlein wasn’t interested in designing a logo that just looked good. “Everything has to have a purpose for me,” he says. “Our logo is actually several logos. The ‘N’ itself is a logo that works for avatars on social media. The full Netzbahn logo with the company name can go on a T-shirt.” The new logo features a lowercase n with a pronounced stem, almost like a lowercase h. He explains how this represents that “most of our projects should be a straight line, but once in a while, you have to do a U-turn and start over.”

Getting It Right Takes Time

Rebranding a business is difficult. All three of these businesses underwent their own challenges, from difficulties with designers to ideas that ended up on the cutting room floor.

It took Mad Data IO a year and the help of an outside firm, the Harbinger Group, to finalize their rebranding. Netzbahn needed a clean and simple logo to fit their largely police-based clientele—they ended up going through five freelancers who didn’t understand their vision before finally giving the job to their PR firm. LAN Infotech wanted to be sure the same logo would work online, on paper products, and on branded merchandise. This meant that they had to work with five different vendors to get the perfect logo.

There is not one route or method to follow when rebranding your MSP. In fact, that’s exactly Hamiliton’s advice for other MSPs looking to rebrand. “Don’t listen to what everybody says,” she advises. “Don’t try to be like everybody else. That’s the biggest mistake people make– they go look at everybody else’s websites and try to copy [them] so that they can fit in. Instead, you need to take time and figure out what is most important to you.”

Have A Plan – And Don’t Settle

In retrospect, she would advise starting with a strategy to save time.  “I did not have a process to follow or a rebranding strategy.  It was just, ‘figure it out along the way.’ Which meant that the website took a long time, cards, all materials, merchandise, etc. I would do that differently now.”

Goldstein has similar advice. “Think it through and have a plan before you actually try to start working with a designer. Know what your goal is, even if it’s just a vague idea.”

Doeberlein adds, “Don’t settle, don’t be talked into something you don’t want, and keep an open mind. Own the copyright on all the work created. Finally, anything you do should have a great story behind it. That’s the meaning behind your logo or the reason behind your brand’s name. It could be a hidden meaning. But that great story is essential as a tagline or a talking point.”

Show The World Who You Are

“You get to decide your destiny,” concludes Hamilton. “When you start branding your company, you are showing the world who you are and giving them a feel for what you want. That is the biggest perk—you have an opportunity either to create something amazing for people and leave an indelible mark, or you can create a blasé, everyday experience that is not really memorable.”

However, she cautions, don’t underestimate the time and potential frustration involved. “Going through this process is not easy. Anytime you’re going to rebrand, you’re birthing something new. That takes time. It involves failure. You have to be able to get back up and learn from it.”

Sarah Jordan is a staff writer at MSP Success. When she’s not reporting on trends and issues pertinent to the MSP community, you can usually find her working on her novel’s manuscript.



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