Rebrand Case Study | Mailchimp

We love a good rebrand case study here at Brand Master Academy and we also love cute Chimps.

So this piece pretty much wrote itself.

In this article we take a look at the repositioning and rebrand of Mailchimp.

We highlight the nuts and bolts of altering the trajectory of a much-loved brand, while stepping on as few toes as possible.

If you want inspiration on how to go about executing a rebrand for yourself or a client, then read on.

We love a good rebrand case study here at Brand Master Academy and we also love cute Chimps.

So this piece pretty much wrote itself.

In this article we take a look at the repositioning and rebrand of Mailchimp.

We highlight the nuts and bolts of altering the trajectory of a much-loved brand, while stepping on as few toes as possible.

If you want inspiration on how to go about executing a rebrand for yourself or a client, then read on.

The Brand History

About 20 years ago, a couple of web designers, Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius saw an opportunity in the market.

In the early 2000’s email software for businesses was expensive and clunky and reserved for the bigger end of town.

If you were a small business wanting to leverage this growing phenomenon that was email, forget about it.

Then Mailchimp was born, enabling the “small fish” to play in the “big fish” pond, with high-end tools, resources and technology made available at affordable prices.

Both founders Ben and Dan came from entrepreneurial families. Their understanding of small business needs kept the platform nimble, adding functionality wherever required.

That evolution has never stopped and Mailchimp continues to grow, evolve and adapt to the needs of their small business customers.

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Case Study:
Repositioning Strategy

Mailchimp has always been adapting to meet the needs of their small business customers adding features and functionality here and there.

That said, they always stayed in their lane as an “Email Platform”.

But an expansion of features to include in-depth marketing executions services including Facebook Ads, signalled a change that was more than just “added features”

This wasn’t just an extra checkbox that shared an image or a link.

This was a full “Facebook Ads Campaign Feature” allowing users to create, launch monitor and optimise Facebook ad campaigns right from within the Mailchimp platform.

An Audience Led Reposition

Although Mailchimp has innovation in its blood, the leadership team didn’t decide on a reposition for the sake of innovation. Nor did the idea of a reposition come entirely from their own sense of innovation.

As any brand manager worth their salt should know, if you listen to your customer, they’ll tell you exactly what to sell them.

According to CEO Ben Chestnut

“‘Our customers tell us that MailChimp helps them look pro and grow. It’s not an email platform, it’s not a newsletter tool—it’s the thing that helps them look more professional. That insight gave us a feeling of liberation. We don’t just have to do email. So we began talking to customers with that in mind.’”

The change in direction was an organic one and begun by simply altering how they talked to customers.

Mailchimp’s evolution and direction from an “Email Software” to a “Marketing Platform” was confirmed when he told the New York Times:

The next phase of MailChimp, he said, is to become a one-stop shop for the entirety of a small business’s marketing needs.

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Case Study:
Adjusting The Brand Message

Repositioning an existing brand with a strong and loyal following is not easy.

Repositioning by definition is taking a different position in the market, therefore wanting to mean something different to both your existing audience your new audience .

It’s a balancing act of making your existing customers feel that they’re still the apple of your eye, while holding out your hand to appeal to the broader audience.

Brand Communication For The Bigger Picture

Prior to 2016, communication from Mailchimp was all geared towards role of email in small businesses.

In 2016, it began its transition with simple adjustments to messaging and copy.

They slowly moved away from “What they did” to “The Outcome Of What They Did”.

Instead of their homepage greeting users with the “Easy Email Newsletters” headline, it read “Build Your Brand, Sell More Stuff”.

This was an insight into what was coming in their shift towards helping small business owners to do more of what makes them grow, i.e. “Sell More Stuff”.

Mailchimp have readjusted the hierarchy of their messaging and though “send Better Email” can still be found in their messaging, today, it’s all about how they help their customers achieve their end goal.

Case Study:
Brand Personality & Voice

Since its inception, Mailchimp has presented as a fun and quirky brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Their fun-loving mascot chimp “Freddie”, hasn’t once dropped his smile and that smile has consistently played out across all channels for 20 odd years.

A reposition for a brand that has come from humble beginnings without any venture capital to bringing in a revenue of over $400 million before their repositioning, it would have been easy for Mailchimp to lose the quirkiness.

To trade in that light-hearted unserious approach for a more sophisticated look and tone that comes with expanding market shares and growing revenues.

But Mailchimp is a brand with strong roots.

A Tone Of Voice With A Joke

Any student of branding looking to beef up their skills to develop a tangible tone of voice can look to Mailchimp’s Content Style Guide for inspiration

When they create messages or write copy, this is how they approach it.

We are plainspoken.
We understand the world our customers are living in: one muddled by hyperbolic language, upsells, and over-promises. We strip all that away and value clarity above all. Because businesses come to Mailchimp to get to work, we avoid distractions like fluffy metaphors and cheap plays to emotion.

We are genuine.
We get small businesses because we were one not too long ago. That means we relate to customers’ challenges and passions and speak to them in a familiar, warm, and accessible way.

We are translators.
Only experts can make what’s difficult look easy, and it’s our job to demystify B2B-speak and actually educate.

Our humor is dry.
Our sense of humor is straight-faced, subtle, and a touch eccentric. We’re weird but not inappropriate, smart but not snobbish. We prefer winking to shouting. We’re never condescending or exclusive—we always bring our customers in on the joke.

Case Study:
A Creative Brand Culture

Mailchimp’s leadership team is driven by innovation.

As Ben Chestnut reflected

“I had a subscription to Businessweek. I’d get it and flip to any story about inventive companies”

There was always a weirdo pushed into a spare room to invent stuff and drop stuff.

So that’s how I run my business. I only hire weirdos and let them fail all the time

Mailchimp is full of employees who are given the freedom for creative expression, who believe in the brand and who want to be there and their about us page on their website is a great example of employer branding.

Mailchimp works to create a company culture that sustains a creative, humble, and independent workforce and encourages a healthy work-life balance. Our e