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In-depth: Is UrbanClap’s rebranding to Urban Company a smart move?

Brand experts say five years of existence is too short to go for a brand rename unless it changes the services dramatically. They believe startups tend to change their brand identity more frequently compared to brick and mortar companies. But does it yield any results? analyses

After spending millions of dollars of investors’ funds over the last five years to establish a brand identity, home services startup UrbanClap has renamed itself as Urban Company.

The company, which also launched in international markets such as Australia, Singapore and the UAE, says the new umbrella brand captures its ambition to be a horizontal gig marketplace with a global footprint and leadership position across service categories.

The company said it wanted a brand name with universal appeal.

But brand experts say five years of existence is too short to go for a brand rename unless it changes the services dramatically.

Urban Company will host six dedicated sub-brands — beauty, spa, grooming, repairs, cleaning, painting and other services such as fitness and yoga at home, including pest control. These verticals were also under Urban Clap.

Kaizad Pardiwalla

Kaizad Pardiwalla, Founder and CEO at KPC, Responsive Creativity, said a company gets into the re-branding exercise if it thinks its present reputation isn’t good and it wants to re-brand into a new avatar. Brands also do it to make itself a lot more appealing to the mass while entering new markets as well.

However, Pardiwalla said, “Five years though is a very short time for a brand to undergo re-branding, without having a major change in its product or service offerings. I think it is too early for a brand which is still building. Although they might have thought the earlier name was too sophisticated for tier II, III markets.”

In the last five years, Urban Clap has spent a substantial chunk of investors’ money on TV, print, digital and outdoor advertising. The brand, in the last few years, has run an extensive media campaign to establish its identity on top of the consumer's mind.

For the financial year ending March 31, 2019, the company's gross revenue more than doubled to Rs 116 crore, from Rs 46 crore in the previous year, even as its operating loss rose 26% to Rs 72 crore, compared to a year ago.

Lulu Raghavan

Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor, said re-branding decisions are always connected to the business strategies.

"Like evolution, it is not a huge change and it is just tweaking the brand to be more relevant while serve their business strategy better. As Urban Company is expanding services, verticals and global footprints, internationally, there is a change in the business strategy. In this regard, they have also taken the master brand strategy where all the different divisions and businesses will come under the umbrella brand. Otherwise, it becomes clumsy, and re-branding is simplifying the brand’s name,” she added.

Harish Bijoor

Harish Bijoor, Founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., said the brand was a start-up once upon a time. Start-ups grow up, and so has UrbanClap.

"As the brand salivates over a global opportunity, it looks for a more global name with a global appreciation that is direct and simple. To that extent Urban Company is a straightforward name to go with. Companies get a chance to change to a globally appreciable name just once and that is when brands expand and ramp up. The brand has used that opportunity just now,” he added.

What does the same logo signify?

Ramanujam Sridhar

Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, Brand-Comm, said all big brands, including Ford, Microsoft and Mastercard, have changed their logos once in a few years because they feel the brand needs some rejuvenation and new energy.

However, in case of newer brands such as Myntra and Flipkart, logos have been changed quite frequently.

“In this start-up space, the desire to be doing something much more frequently is more compared to old conventional established brick and mortar companies. Also, as they get rid of the word ‘Clap’, it would not confuse people with the certain STD named after ‘clap," Sridhar said.

Sridhar said that for a lot of brands, unfortunately, logo change mere seems to be cosmetic exercise. Unless there is a change in the offering or philosophy or unless they are not re-engineering the company, mere changing the identity without any significant change in product or service is a waste of time and money.

Raghavan said the brand has done its rebranding with the logo very cleverly. In the logo earlier as well it was just ‘UC’, which remains the same now too. 

“Clarification and simplification, it is just that. It’s coming out simple and plain,” she said.

“As a majority of people recognise the brand with the logos, this re-branding with the logo is the same and is very much recognisable and a very smart thing,” said Pardiwalla.

Manoj Deb

Manoj Deb, Founder of VenaCava Designs, said that any logo while re-branding has to be strategically right. “For Urban Company, it is more of a strategic call than the design call. From Clap to Company, it sounds really smarter and like a global name,” he added. 

Sridhar said to sustain the old affinity and recall, Urban Company now has to give a lot of reassurance to the customers around this. It is important to communicate effectively to customers about the improved looks and better services.

Ramesh Narayan

Ramesh Narayan, Founder of Canco Advertising, said there must be some marketing strategy in the pipeline, which will be rolled out soon. Dropping off the word ‘clap’ will lose nothing. Although that might not have been the only reason for this entire exercise, he feels the rebranding had been well thought of well in advance. It sounds better and shorter now. It won’t lose brand recall. In most cases, if it’s a well thought-out rebranding, the result is always good, he said.

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