Conferences, much like last month’s eTail, are more often then not a place for vendors to solicit new clientele, usually by way of the exhibit hall. Although we are already a customer of Mercado, members of my team, as well as myself, found their booth to be quite interesting and original. Whether you are a retailer, software company, service provider or blogger it’s important to distinguish yourself from the crowd. At eTail, Mercado was faced with this task, plus distinguishing themselves from their former brand. In an effort to do this, all they had to do at the show was launch their new branding campaign, go live with their new website, and roll out their new products and services.
Easy right? In the words of one of our fearless leaders, “If you’re going to re-brand, you gotta’ get crazy!” Time will tell if Mercado went "full frontal", but they sure did a lot. Let's take a look...
Mercado is a site search, merchandising and storefront solutions provider. Their services did not previously include the storefront solutions. They recently dropped the “software” from their name, and completely changed the look and feel of the brand.
This is Mercado’s old logo. As you can see, the word software was a part of their name.
The logo below is Mercado’s new logo as of eTail West 2008.
Their new booth was appropriately decorated with the new color scheme, lime and blue. They did a good job of attracting potential and existing clients to their booth with an amazing display of blue and green jelly beans that matched their logo perfectly.
None of these things are revolutionary but I can sympathize with having to go through the re-branding process. PlumberSurplus.com has a branding issue, we aren’t just plumbing and we aren’t a surplus, but when we started the company we really identified with the name. Now that we are all things home improvement we realize that it would have been beneficial for us to choose a more generic name. Not to mention that publications often classify us as a niche or specialty retailer, when in fact our offering is far broader then that. Don’t worry though, our new vertical is launching soon and we have learned our lesson.
We have discussed this topic before. You may remember our Google Checkout sweepstakes. The purpose of Mercado’s promotion was to send the message that their products were new and improved, their brand was fresh, and that they were better than their competition. For this particular promotion Mercado emailed their customers before the show and asked them to provide a product for their giveaway at the booth, and in exchange they would showcase the donated product, display their customer’s site, and use their customer’s site to give product demonstrations. What was really cool about the promotion is that they got their customers to provide products in the same colors as their new logo. My favorite example of this is the snowboard that evogear.com donated. Evogear is a retailer of snow, water and skate gear such as: powder skis, Volki skis, and K2 skis. Needless to say the snowboard was the bright lime green of the Mercado logo, better yet a PlumberSurplus.com employee won!
The bright green snowboard that a PlumberSurplus.com employee won can be seen in the image below.
The giveaway was a stellar idea. Mercado allowed current customers to submit entries, the entrants didn’t have to be present to win, and winners were able to choose from an assortment of prizes. Some of my favorites can be seen below:
A bright blue ring donated by a Mercado customer.
KitchenAide mixer in Mercado colors donated by a Mercado customer.
Don’t forget the best part of the giveaway promotion: cost to Mercado = $0.00. Their current customers provided all of the giveaways in exchange for product and website showcasing throughout the day.
The first day of the eTail show was all about search. Between presentations by speakers and panelists attendees participated in roundtables. Each roundtable consisted of a vendor and a retailer client of that vendor and the topic that vendor chose to focus on. Can you see where this is going? Mercado hosted roundtables with their President and CEO, Corey Leibow as the representative vendor, and one of our Managing Partners as the representative retailer. The roundtables gave Mercado the ability to highlight their product without having to give a sales pitch. Each roundtable was a group focused discussion mediated by the vendor and retailer, so the audience members were able to ask their questions about the Mercado product and discuss the product with their peers, instead of the traditional sales pitch they would have endured had they just been visiting vendor booths. Not only that but in case attendees were unable to make it to the exhibit hall to see their new booth, all of the lanyards worn by conference attendees were sponsored by Mercado. To top it all off they were gracious enough to host a dinner party at Tuscany, for employees, clients and potential clients.
I think it is pretty clear that re-branding can be more than a tough job. It is hard enough to be recognized as a leader in your industry, but to be recognized and then have to distinguish yourself from your old self is a whole other ball game. I think Mercado is off to a good start, they seem to get great feedback from attendees at the eTail conference. The lesson we have learned today: when re-branding go full frontal.