It’s not uncommon for businesses to undergo a rebrand throughout the lifespan and evolution of an app. Whether it’s a revamped look and feel, a new brand name, or both, these changes are essential for keeping your app fresh and relevant to your user base. You might invest considerable time and effort into crafting a well-considered rebranding strategy, developing new brand guidelines, designing a new logo, selecting the perfect colour scheme, refining your app’s user interface, updating your website, app title, app icon and app store screenshots. And then comes the grand announcement on social media: your app has a brand-new identity!
However, this is where many businesses stumble by failing to adequately safeguard their app rebrand. Poorly managed, a rebrand can negatively affect your app’s growth trajectory. To mitigate the risks, it’s crucial to anticipate potential challenges and implement safeguards. For example, you might face a surge in negative reviews from users who feel now feel estranged from your product. Or you could experience decreased visibility in app stores due to a name change, affecting your App Store Optimization (ASO) efforts, resulting in having to build up your branded search power from scratch.
That’s why we want to put forward out top tips for safeguarding your app rebrand, to help you navigate the complexities of an app rebrand to turn this challenge into a growth opportunity, taking a deeper looking at branding strategies from the likes of Monzo and X.
Prepare your audience for the upcoming changes
Change is inevitable, but when it comes to beloved brands, users often resist it. Brands become an integral part of our daily lives, creating a deep-seated loyalty and emotional connection. Over time, users develop habits around your product’s features and functionality. Any significant alteration to the UI or UX can disrupt these habits, leading to potential user dissatisfaction. That’s why we highly recommend getting your audience as primed and ready for your launch as possible to mitigate the fallout from a re-brand strategy.
Monzo’s recent rebrand is a great example of a customer-centric rebrand strategy. Leading up to the rebrand, they shared a wealth of resources on their blog and social channels to create a deeper resonance around their branding decisions. Monzo tied together both visual changes and UI changes as an essential evolution towards their brand values: ‘a more friendly, more human, more Monzo,’ led update. Research shows emotionally connected customers have a staggering 306% higher lifetime value. Being transparent about the journey towards embodying your values and creating an emotional and authentic connection in your comms will bolster your ability to drive long-term loyalty and engagement.
We recommend that you engage your content and social teams early on. Align them with the rebranding vision and ensure they are onboard with the upcoming changes and craft a content strategy that addresses:
- what you are changing
- why you are changing it
- when these changes are happening
Incorporate User Feedback in Your Rebranding Strategy
During a rebrand, protecting the user experience is vital. When considering a rebrand, it’s a great idea to involve users in the process, ensuring they feel valued and heard. By granting users a voice in the rebranding journey, you not only pre-empt potential resistance but also foster a sense of ownership and loyalty. This proactive involvement can lead to smoother transitions, higher retention rates, and increased adoption of new features.
Here’s how you can actively engage users in your rebranding efforts:
Pilot Your changes and gather user feedback
Transitioning gradually with your branding changes offers a dual advantage. Firstly, it allows you to test and refine the new UI/UX based on data and user feedback. Secondly, it provides users with a comfortable window to adjust to the changes. Monzo’s strategy with their home screen UI revamp is a great example of this. Instead of rolling out sudden overhaul in their new app update, they introduced the new UI as an optional feature for users to test:
“Head into Labs in the app (you’ll find Monzo Labs in your Settings) and you can try our new Home screen layout. Now we’re excited to let as many people as possible give it a try. We’ll be rolling out this new screen to everybody later this summer, and we’ll be back to explain how that will work in more detail nearer the time. In the meantime, we’d really appreciate your feedback.”
This was shared on all owned channels including their blog, social channels, email and eventually, as an in-app message. This method ensures users aren’t overwhelmed by sudden changes. Moreover, by offering an early preview, users feel included in the brand’s evolution, reinforcing the idea that their feedback shapes the product’s direction.
Offer an in-app tutorial to increase adoption rates
Another way to ensure that users are eased into your new rebrand, particularly if the rebrand includes UI changes, is utilising product feature tutorials. Why is this important? Well, around 86% of the app users say they will remain loyal if onboarding and continuous education are provided as part of the user experience. Product education is essential to boosting down-the-line retention and user sentiment.
Going back to Monzo’s new Homepage UI, they utilised an effective onboarding experience that outlined the changes to the home screen (positioned as a ‘makeover’). The 5 screens do a great job of outlining the reasons behind the changes. They also offered the option the option to toggle between the old (‘basic’) home screen with the new (‘recommended’) home screen. This offers power to the user to transition freely to the new update, as and when they wish, whilst primed and ready with the knowledge of the benefits of the new update. The key thing with in-app tutorials is to swiftly get users to the A-ha! Moment, whilst driving value and education.
Make sure to follow these steps for your next in-app tutorial strategy:
- Simplicity is Key: When designing in-app tutorial, prioritise clarity and brevity. Avoid inundating users with excessive information. Instead, offer concise and straightforward instructions to ensure a seamless user experience.
- Diverse Tutorial Formats: Different users have different learning preferences. Consider experimenting with various tutorial formats, such as step-by-step tooltip guides or video demonstrations. This diversity caters to a broader audience and enhances user engagement.
- Get Interactive: Empower users by allowing them to choose their path. By making tutorials interactive, users can select the route that best suits their needs, ensuring a more personalised and engaging experience.
There are now many tools in the market that allow you to create code-free in-app tutorials such as AppCues, Pendo or UserPilot. These are a great way to test your tutorials and side-step your development team’s backlog of code changes.
Protect your user sentiment and reviews in the app stores
We’ve all seen how a rebranding strategy can go terribly wrong and unfortunately, your app store reviews usually take the biggest hit. Your app ratings and reviews are a significant factor in your ASO performance, impacting both visibility and conversion.
In July 2023, Twitter rebranded to X, with an update to the icon, screenshots and app store descriptions on iOS and Android. Following a tumultuous rebrand launch that was considered a disaster, the X app reviews felt the rage of the users from the sweeping and unconsidered branding changes.
In fact, in the last 3 months, the average app rating for X of new reviews is 1.9* – with the total of new reviews increasing by 199%, strengthening the notion that users will utilise the ratings to air out poor product experiences. The surge of 1* reviews correlate with the week of the rebrand, bringing the average star rating down for the app by 27%.
Looking at the repeated keywords in negative reviews, ‘icon’ appeared in the top 10 keywords referenced in the negative reviews.
How can you safeguard your reviews during a rebrand release?
We recommend the following:
- Respond to reviews: ensure you have dedicated resource to respond to reviews to protect your reputation in the app stores. As the most recent reviews are usually highlighted on the app store listing page, this ensures that your developer response is there to do some brand protection work and mitigate the impact on your store listing conversion rate. It is also a proven method to ensure users feel heard, acknowledged and are more likely to change their rating. In fact, Google has stated that developers who respond to user reviews see a +0.7 boost in their app rating. Make sure the response feels personalised to the individual and they know the developer responses are coming from another human.
- Give users options to submit in-app feedback: Ideally before the user is prompted to leave a review, you need readily available platforms where users can voice their opinions and concerns on your branding changes. Whether it’s through social media comments or community forum threads, these channels allow for real-time feedback – so it’s on the brand to ensure discussions are regulated away from the app store listing. It’s not just about addressing concerns; it’s an opportunity to gauge user sentiment and gather invaluable feedback. Another great way to re-direct poor reviews from the app store listings is to ensure users have access to your customer support email to air out any issues to do with the product as part of your planned rebrand. This offers an additional platform to engage dissatisfied users and win them back. Feed this into your developer response strategy, as seen above in the example from the ClearScore app.
Stagger your app rebrand through effective ASO
When rolling out a visual branding or name change into the app store, it’s important to phase your efforts to give users time to catch up and start creating affiliations with your new branding. This can impact your conversion rate in the app stores (as users will take time to identify your new visual branding such as icons and screenshots) to your visibility (particularly if your app rebrand includes a name change).
Here are some top ASO tips we recommend for your re-brand:
- What’s New: strategically utilising this field is not commonly used by many apps on iOS and is a great way to bring exposure to your brand protection strategy. Whilst your release notes aren’t indexed (so it won’t impact your visibility for new keywords) it’s still a great way to highlight app changes and speak directly to your users and notify them of your new visual identity or name change. Below you can see Olio’s promotional text, notifying users of their new app icon and branding. This text appears high in the What’s New section of your App Store page, so use it wisely!
- Super Geos: commonly known as cross-localisation, this is a great way to leverage additional characters for keywords by using the keyword field for other markets that get indexed in the US (such as Arabic, or Spanish Mexico – read more about it here.) If you are changing your app name, but still want to rank for it whilst prioritising your new app name in your title, then use your super geos to reference your old app name in the title so that you don’t lose keyword ranking power. Alternatively, you could leverage it in the backend keywords of your Super Geos also. This ensures you keep ranking power and emerge for searches for your old name whilst prioritising the high index power fields (title/subtitle) for your new app name, until your users are used get used to it!
- Screenshot Updates: we recommend a phased approach to updating your screenshots in line with your new branding, especially if you are going all out with a new visual identity and brand name. As an example, GuideAlong have executed this transition very smoothly. Their first screenshot change came post brand update, highlighting ‘Formerly known as GypsyGuide’ on the first screenshot on the iOS App Store. This allowed users to identify a correlation between the new visual branding with its old brand at first glance. After the 1st month, it transitioned the reference to the old brand to the second screenshot and by the 2nd month the reference to the old brand name had been completely phased out. A great strategy to support this transition is to utilise Custom Product Pages. You can target these for your ASA campaigns and keywords surrounding your old brand name to direct the search habits to the updated listing with your new brand name. This multi-pronged approach is a considered way to get users used to your new branding and brand name and ensure all relevant traffic is still directed to your store listing.
Conclusion: The Art of Successful App Rebranding
Rebranding is a pivotal step that can breathe new life into an app, ensuring it remains relevant in a constantly shifting app environment. However, this journey is riddled with potential pitfalls that, if not proactively addressed, can hinder an app’s growth trajectory and damage its reputation. Successful rebranding is about more than just introducing a fresh logo or colour palette; it hinges on facilitating a smooth transition for users, upholding their trust, and safeguarding the app’s market presence.
By integrating user feedback, readying audiences of upcoming changes, and employing strategic App Store Optimization techniques, businesses can transform rebranding challenges into opportunities for growth and enhanced user loyalty. In essence, while rebranding is a complex endeavour, with careful planning and a user-focused approach, businesses can ensure their new identity resonates with their audience and drives them to new heights in the app marketplace.