Know your story and make it relatable. It would be best if people cared about your rebrand…so make them pay attention. Hopefully it’s a story that resonates!

For us, we expanded into new destinations based on the demand from our customers. So instead of having different websites and brands for separate destinations, we decided that it would benefit our customers more to have one platform where they could find all our destinations on, as well as for them to speak on one company about any destination and still receive the same expert advice.

When we announced our re-brand, we focused on how our services were now better at serving customer needs and where we were expanding our services to.

As part of our series about “Brand Makeovers” I had the pleasure to interview Edoria Ridzmann the Digital Marketing and Communications Manager of Villa Finder.

As the gatekeeper of an APAC vacation rental brand, she has the tricky task of weaving the right words and ideas to spark inspirational travel for both families and young adults, while making sure accommodation at villas trump hotels, every single time. Originally from an agency background, she has led successful performance marketing campaigns for clients like Klook, Canon and Meltwater.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Living in different parts of SEA, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the region, parts of europe and australasia, and while it was exciting learning about new cultures and places, what always fascinated me was how communal marketing seemed to be, no matter where in the world. What I mean by this is that I noticed how people were always keen and active in responding to marketing that spoke to the heart and the everyday stuff.

No matter where in the world, people buy into brand stories and the company/solution itself becomes part of a shared experience. Whether it’s a family owned restaurant, design software (looking at you canva) or artisanal chocolate, I knew that I wanted to be in a team where telling the story is as important as the service itself.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing or branding mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Embarrassing and painful as it is, I once approved email marketing copy (that was sent out to a really big database) that was meant for a beach destination, for a snow destination. Imagine, “sunny days ahead for your tan” against the backdrop of Japan’s famous Mount Yotei. Not very funny but it did teach me to always double, triple, and obsessively check copy before sending it out.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?

When the marketing strategies I was mapping out had to include separate “trendy” campaigns for a different age group- we had a big base of 30–50 year olds booking with us but not many 20–30 year olds- I knew that we were doing something right to attract new audiences.

But the team had to work with a small budget to serve out conversion campaigns that suited both our new and existing audiences. While we had garnered interest from a group that we had been looking to acquire, we realised that we hadn’t accounted for stretching our budget to execute our ideas.

We had to decide which group to spend more time and money on; we decided on our new audiences in the end, but eventually learnt that we could weight our campaigns depending on which phase the audience was in. We learnt that there were ways to stretch our budget and still achieve a desired outcome for both audiences.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! Last year we launched a locally curated guidebook with exclusive discounts for our Bali guests- we handpicked every restaurant and spa based on our own experience. We did this because we found that although there is a LOT of information online about where to go, what to eat or do, there were still gaps around family friendly advice and options- gaps which our core family audience, was missing. Especially when it came to locally recommended options.

This initiative has been well-received by our restaurant/spa/activity partners with many more wanting to get onboard. As the guidebook has also helped our concierge team advise our guests on where to go, we’re looking to replicate the Bali guidebook of offers for our other popular destinations- a valuable guide that isn’t just another “top 10 places to visit in Phuket”

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

Find your tribe! Understand which audience needs your utmost attention and prioritise from there. Everyone can seem important when your service can be used by just about every age group, but it pays to be selective. When you know audience A is higher in number than audience B, weight more content and campaigns to serve A compared to B, C, and D.

Make a list of what is NOT important. Decide on customers or things you don’t want to pursue because it takes too much time out of your regular team meetings. Most marketers can get stuck because there’s a lot of back and forth about what could be valuable but in reality, it’s not nearly as important enough for you to devote your time to. Make decisions about what are the things you don’t do, and stick to it.

Ok, let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

From Villa Finder’s point of view, our product may be great villas in great locations with great in-villa service but it is only through branding that a customer comes to understand the value of our service.

Brand marketing educates a customer that Villa Finder handpicks and inspects all their villas in 28 destinations and can help you plan your holidays free of charge.

Product marketing gives a customer a selection of villas that suit their different needs; a family villa is very different from a honeymoon villa.

Establish what you’re good at (brand) and what you have to show for it (product)

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

A product can be inspiring or boring and there are a lot of voices out there- what makes you different? Why should people buy from you, when there are probably more than 3 alternatives for your product?

Most people connect to a brand before they do a product because they’re looking for something relatable. For example, “Only amazing family holiday experiences guaranteed with Villa Finder” is reassuring the guest that Villa Finder are specialists in family holidays, but it only really makes sense when combined with “Our handpicked villas are great because they’re close to the best beaches” as a product push.

You want your product to have a great, inspiring story behind it to convince your customer they want in. Crafting a brand story, building it and nurturing it takes time, don’t ignore it because it’s easier to shout about your product.

Let’s now talk about rebranding. What are a few reasons why a company would consider rebranding?

No company starts off perfect and unless you’re very, very, lucky and good at what you do, you probably made some brand choices that now, don’t seem as relevant or there’s a need for change because the product/partners/service has changed or your audience has evolved.

Burberry famously overhauled the brand when it was at risk of being associated with gangwear. But by infusing their heritage brand with a mix of modern looks and partnering with high profile celebrities like Kate Moss and Emma Watson, Burberry successfully steered itself into success and made heritage relevant for today’s consumer.

For Villa Finder, we grew out of the “clothes” we had and needed something bigger to represent the destinations we were expanded into. We were confined to niche markets (villas in Bali for AU/EU customers) and found that our current message limits what we wanted to convey. A rebranding allowed us to tap into markets that we didn’t previously have access to.

Are there downsides of rebranding? Are there companies that you would advise against doing a “Brand Makeover”? Why?

In the case of building your audience or database back up after a rebrand (this may be migration to a new website or merger with a partner), there may be a phase where your “old audiences” or “old customers” need to be re-educated or shift from where you were to where you are now. Not to mention it can be confusing to your internal teams to take on the rebrand and to sing it loud and clear.

Some brands that have amassed a large following or customer base may not find it as easy to re-brand simply because the effort it would take to re-educate might mean sacrificing time that would usually be spent closing deals or winning new business.

Be clear about why the rebrand is important and make sure you have a strategy mapped out on how to communicate your new brand effectively.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Can you share 5 strategies that a company can do to upgrade and re-energize their brand and image”? Please tell us a story or an example for each.

Know your audience

In a re-brand, your core audience/customer base is important to your survival. Make sure you know who they are and how to reach and address them.

In our own rebrand, we looked into who our audience regularly “spoke” to and who or what influenced them. For us, it was families who traveled to our destinations. We reached out to travel media and influencers to help us communicate the rebrand.

Know your story and make it relatable

It would be best if people cared about your rebrand…so make them pay attention. Hopefully it’s a story that resonates!

For us, we expanded into new destinations based on the demand from our customers. So instead of having different websites and brands for separate destinations, we decided that it would benefit our customers more to have one platform where they could find all our destinations on, as well as for them to speak on one company about any destination and still receive the same expert advice.

When we announced our re-brand, we focused on how our services were now better at serving customer needs and where we were expanding our services to.

Have a clear actionable plan

Prior to rebranding, we had 6 different websites, 6 Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts for each of the destination, and one for the main brand. It’s important to have a clear timeline to merge all this and to make sure nothing is left out. It’s very easy to overlook details like automated emails, subscription forms, etc. So take time to sit down and think about all that the company has been doing and where you need to change your message/logo.

Know that it’s an ongoing effort

In an ideal world, you only need to say it once, and your audience will remember it. However, that is never the case. “Rebranding” is just a period where you make the actual shift from A to B, from then on, you have to consistently repeat the message to your audience to make sure that they remember. The result will come gradually.

In the first few months of our rebrand, we saw traffic to our new website slowly increase and the return of our past customers who eventually came to understand that they could now book villas in other destinations too.

Don’t forget your employees

The rebranding process starts closer to home. Your employees are your brand ambassadors. All of your effort will be wasted if your team doesn’t fully understand the need to rebrand and end up mistakenly repeating an old brand message.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job doing a “Brand Makeover”. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Indonesia’s Gojek started out with a very specific logo and service. While Gojek succeeded first as an online ride hailing app (and they still provide this service) the company realised they had a bigger purpose in helping the community. Their riders were able to make a real difference- they didn’t only transport people, they could also transport food, services (like their famous and popular “gomassage” or laundry drop off services) and their technology could facilitate cashless payments.

And they needed to break into other markets like Singapore. Their logo at the time was limiting the message they wanted to drive home- that Gojek connected you to a world of services. So they rebranded and designed a logo that allowed them to scale. Now, if you look at the new logo hard enough it takes on the form of:

  • A map pin
  • A search button
  • A power button
  • The top helmet of a Gojek driver

All representing one or another type of service that Gojek provides. Genius? Just a little.

Their rebrand took a lot into consideration; their past, present and future. Gojek wanted a logo and message that resonated with what they were currently doing and could communicate what their future looked like. I believe Gojek succeeded because they understood their audience(s) as clear as day and had adapted their rebranding strategy to meet and put customer needs first.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Sharing your personal affirmations with your colleagues and helping them do the same. There’s positivity in letting your peers know what is important to you and trusting that they are supportive enough to help you achieve the best version of yourself.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

We rise by lifting others

Comforting a colleague or friend when they’ve had a bad day (and you’re a busy bee) may not be a big, dramatic action but being compassionate helps you see yourself in a better light.

I find that extending a hand, or showing emotion at work is generally hard to do because you’re conditioned to be “formal” or “proper” but there have been times where doing exactly that has helped me understand myself a little better- and not just at work but in other difficult situations where being outside of your comfort zone is the only way to learn how to be a better person.

How can our readers follow you online?

LinkedIn for all the exciting work updates and Instagram for travel and life adventures.

Thank you so much for these excellent insights! We wish you continued success in your work.

Brand Makeovers: “Know your story and make it relatable” with Edoria Ridzmann of Villa Finder was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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