Rebrand lessons learned a year later
It has now been one year since we rebranded from iGlobal Stores to Zonos. For 20 minutes, we captivated a live audience of close to 1,500 people inclusive of various industries, competitors, partners, and our local community. Since the event, it has reached close to 5,000 viewers.
This is how we did it, on our own, with a team of 25 people for less than $15,000.
It probably started with one of those days where we had another sales call with a prospect that heard our name “iGlobal Stores” and then confused us for a competitor offering logistics. In frustration, I searched and searched the internet for a domain. There were a few domains I had been watching already, but something finally put me over the edge that day. Determined, I pulled all the key stakeholders into a room, saying we were not leaving until we either purchase a new domain or it was never going to happen. I wasn’t the only one unsatisfied with our brand and name, but if anyone in that room wanted something to happen, they knew they had one hour to decide or forever hold their peace. I think it took less than half an hour, and I painstakingly pulled out the credit card and purchased the domain: zonos.com.
Lesson 1: We need an evocative name.
One of the best things I did before the rebrand was a call with someone in the corporate branding department of a large company. He asked about our competitive landscape, what we did, and how we positioned ourselves in the market.
I learned if you want someone to understand what you do when they hear your name, pick something descriptive. If competitors have poured thousands or millions of dollars defining terms that you can leverage for quick understanding of your company, a descriptive name could make sense. That was the exact opposite of what we wanted.
On the other hand, if you want to explain what you do every time someone hears your name, then pick something evocative or invented. At Zonos, we are building a new category of cross-border technology without logistics. Choosing an evocative name allowed us to define who we are, not our name.
Lesson 2: Our brand needed to mean something.
On June 1st, 2008 in a barley field on a small farm near Barbury Castle in the UK, a crop circle was discovered. The crop circle was unique in its pattern, but no one understood the meaning behind the symbol. It was not until a year later when an astrophysicist on the other side of the world decoded what was believed to be a random pattern. Upon closer inspection and with the proper process, it was discovered that the crop circle was, in fact, a number. The circle was a pictorial representation of the first 10 digits of Pi, 3.141592654. Today, this has come to be known as the Barbury crop circle.
It has been one year since the revealing of Zonos. At first glance, the Zonos circle appears to be random, which in fact, it is not. The symbol itself is a cipher and contains an encoded word. The cipher spells “ZONOS”. Similar to the Barbury crop circle, the Zonos circle can be decoded. In fact, you can create your own cipher here.
Our new brand meant something to the entire team, and the by-product was that it now meant something to our industry. We ultimately said goodbye to the flying saucer, but the Zonos cipher gives a bit of a nod and a wink wink to our previous selves. Our team of Zonuts immediately fell in love with our brand, our name, and our mission of “Decoding cross-border”.
Lesson 3: Doing an event is worth it.
We decided to look for the right location for our event. The first stop was a small electric theater in downtown St. George that was built in 1911. We walked the stage; the theater holds a little over ~150 people, so I turned to our Chief of Staff and said, “We can fill this entire place up. No problem.” His eyebrows raised in surprise, and he responded, “Umm. Yeah, sure we can.” Next, we went to the brand new Dixie Technical College on top of Tech Ridge, a new master-planned community for living and working. Tech Ridge is also the future home of Zonos and other local tech companies. We walked the beautiful new college and entered the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Auditorium, and I said, “We have to do this here, and we have to fill it up”. In a bit of shock, our Chief of Staff replied, “It seats over 400 people!” It was the fall of 2017, and we had picked our location and set the event date for February 16th, 2018. Now we had to deliver.
At Zonos, our first core value is “Reach Everyone.” We are a global solution, yet we live in a small community in Southern Utah. Having a rebranding event allowed us to reach these three groups.
We filled up the room like we hoped and had a keynote from Derek Miller, the President of WTC Utah. After the 20-minute rebrand reveal, we then had a panel with the St. George Mayor, Jon Pike as well as other tech CEO’s looking to go up to Tech Ridge. We gave out t-shirts to everyone, provided lunch, and bonded as a community. The event helped us with recruiting, but more importantly, it was a way for us to involve the community in what we are creating.
2. Industry partners
Every type of partner watched that event, eCommerce platforms, logistics companies, and competitors. Over half of the thousands that watched the event are from a industry-related business. We still hear all the time, “I saw your event. It was awesome!” We even have had multiple people working for our direct competition inquire about positions at Zonos.
3. Online retailers
It was to our customers and prospects that we really wanted to communicate the vision of Zonos and our future together. We revealed Zonos Hello, a freemium product that calculates duties and taxes for the shopping experience. A year ago, Zonos Hello didn’t exist. Yet today, Zonos Hello serves ~150k duty and tax quotes each day.
There were a lot of emotions after the event. The Zonos team delivered something to which I have yet to see paralleled. I am so proud of the 25 Zonuts that delivered our rebrand event and of the current team of 40 continuing our mission. Each one doing their part to decode cross-border.