How To Gracefully Retire A Brand Name

Retiring a brand name is a tricky challenge. On one hand, you don’t want to confuse your marketplace by transitioning too quickly. On the other hand, you don’t want the transition to take too long because it can cost more money and also cause confusion.

We are currently going through a brand name transition with the Omniture brand being rolled up into the greater Adobe brand. The website is still in place, but you may have noticed that the last conference was called the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit rather than the Omniture Summit.

For most external marketing and field events, it is a fairly straightforward switch because we have complete control over what message we send to the customer base. In search, it is not so straightforward because we can’t control what people search for.

Where Do You Start Shifting Your Brand In Search?

We have had a several discussions with the Brand team over the Omniture transition, and hopefully, this article will help you be prepared if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. It will also back you up as you educate your Brand team on the best practices in Search for switching a brand.

The first question that arose around the brand change was whether we should continue to bid on the keyword “Omniture” and its variations. This argument was straightforward because we had data to back ourselves up.

In our case, the keyword “Omniture” is one of our highest volume and highest converting keywords and all we had to do is show the loss in revenue that would occur if we stopped bidding on those terms. Even beyond this quantitative approach, there are other reasons to bid on the old brand name. Bidding on the old name provides a great opportunity to educate your customers about the brand transition.

A related question arose around how long we should continue to bid on our brand term. As much as I would like to put an exact date on how long we should continue to bid on the term, I can’t because it is different for every transition. Again, the trick here is to back yourself up with data.

As long as there are a significant number of customers searching for and converting on a brand term, it makes sense to continue bidding on that term. In smaller brand transitions, it can take as little as six months to a year for most of the customer base to start bidding on a new brand.

For sticky brands, it can take years for people to stop searching on those terms. There are several Adobe products where a brand has been retired years ago and people are still searching on those terms. For Omniture, I imagine that it will take a couple of years before search traffic is close to zero.

It was much more controversial when we continued to build landing pages with the phrase Omniture showing up on it. It makes sense why Brand would not want to create more assets with Omniture anywhere on the page. Not only could this be seen as wasted effort, but it could also be seen as a step in the wrong direction of changing the brand awareness.

The problem with this thought process is that it is easy to forget that paid search landing pages can be targeted very specifically and taken down very quickly once traffic on that term has waned. People searching on the term Omniture are looking for Omniture and if that term does not show up on the landing page, it could be very confusing.

In the Omniture transition, we have compromised with the brand team. We were able to get permission to include Omniture on the page, but we were not able to make the transition wording the most prominent piece of copy.

Below, you can see the new landing page that we are finishing around this transition that shows the transition messaging in the body of the text.

With smaller brand transitions at Adobe, we have placed the transition message directly in the title of the page and have seen virtually no drop in conversion rate. I expect we will see a slight drop in conversion rate with this new page, and maybe even a drop in quality score, but the message is still present for those who are reading the copy.

For large brand transitions, it is important to begin working  with the brand team as soon as possible to plan out the best process for the transition. By working closely with the brand team, we were able to continue bidding on our brand terms, but we compromised a bit on the landing page question.

So don’t be shocked when your brand team wants to completely shut down your old brand at the start of a transition. Come prepared with data and educational information about how search works so that you can create a smooth transition and gracefully retire your old brand name. By continuing to bid on your old brand terms, and using that traffic as an opportunity to educate customers about the transition, it will ultimately be a smoother brand transition for you and your customers.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | In House Search Marketing


About The Author: is an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Prior to heading back to school full time, he was a worldwide search marketing manager for Adobe Systems.

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  • Justin Sous

    Nice article, Richard. Definitely a good change of pace on SEL!

    In terms of determining whether or not to bid (I assume you meant on Search) on branded keywords [Omniture], were you able to see how many conversions were made on that term from PPC versus Organic on the same keywords? I didn’t check to see how your organic placement was, but I assume it’s very good for your branded terms. There are so many articles that discuss this, whether or not it makes sense to bid on your own branded terms, and I think it comes down to a few things:
    1. Your organic placement for the same keywords
    2. The cost of this traffic (per click, per conversion)
    3. Are these informational queries or people who made the decision they want to do business with you

    I’m not sure exactly how you measured the revenue lost if you were to stop bidding on those terms, but it sounds like to really get clearest picture you’d have to be able to know how you were converting on these terms via PPC versus Organic. Just some food for thought, if you were ranking #1 organically  for your branded terms, and there was not too much competition in PPC, would a very high percentage of those visitors just click on your organic listing and convert?

    Thanks for the share!


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