Brand transformation is a dynamic process that can help rejuvenate an organisation’s perception, fostering a lasting connection with audiences in an ever-changing business landscape. HROne has recently undergone a metamorphosis with its brand transformation journey. We spoke with the founder of HROne Karan Jain about the journey of figuring out their brand identity, the challenges they faced, standing out in a fragmented and competitive market and much more.
Excerpts from the interview:
Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind the new brand identity?
Absolutely! We strongly believe that along with building a customer-focused product, a deep and well-thought-out brand DNA is equally crucial to our success. From a brand management perspective, in the HCM software as a category, strategic and tactical brand management is excessively focused on product attributes and functional benefits. While product innovation remains our supreme priority, we realize the need to complement that with vital elements like our brand values, brand purpose, our vision, and unique associations.
And this belief led us to our journey to figure out our brand identity – it was arduous but also fulfilling and spanned several months. The result was a very meticulously crafted brand DNA that will serve as our north star for all things at HROne across all functions.
How does the rebranding reflect the evolution and growth of the company?
Back in 2016, from a basement, we started off as a company of 20 ambitious individuals. Today we serve over 1,100 customers across India, with a team of 250 customer-obsessed employees.
Of course, this growth has come at the back of a very solid value proposition, having a customer-focused approach, and building a culture of excellence. There have been several crucial moments that have left a long-lasting impact on how we run business for our customers – right from having a firm business strategy to setting up our product roadmap and many other nuances.
What was missing from our radar was this – how to elevate the brand from something that resides not just on the top of the product as packaging but deep within it. That is how a product gets enriched and stays resistant to getting easily substituted. For us, ‘brand’ is more than just packaging a product. For us, it’s a lever to organize the market, driven by a strong purpose and vision, a very clear idea of how we see the HCM software category. For us, it’s about having a specific point of view on the product category. For us, ‘brand’ is a long-term vision. It’s our brand purpose and vision - our raison d’être that drives our core brand values, brand persona, and everything that affects how we surpass customer expectations.
This “going beyond the packaging” was a missing piece of the puzzle. And, with this rebranding exercise, we have been able to close that gap. All said and done, we’ll continue to evolve our brand and keep the energy up to stay relevant and contemporary in the market.
How will the rebranding help differentiate the company and strengthen its position in the market?
With this new identity, we are on the track that will lead us towards becoming non-substitutable. We will continue to be disruptive in our approach and find avenues of substantial and transformational innovation when it comes to product development.
The new identity has enabled us to achieve distinctiveness which is critical to standing out in this fragmented and competitive market of HCM software category. Our distinctive brand assets, like our unique visual identity, our powerful tagline "Your Workplace. Your Way." and our mascot, The Black Buck, will play a crucial role in driving brand recall.
Our product has evolved through multiple stages. In 2019 we decided to reinvest all we had into transforming our product and bringing in disruptive features that eventually helped us penetrate this market. Our mantra has always been clear: Don’t transfer the complexity of the processes and operations to the end user – whether it’s the HR leader or the employee. And that’s how we have developed our product by bringing in features like InboxForHRTM.
We have firmly positioned HROne as the simplest HR software to use. Backed by several similar disruptive product features and roadmap, we feel this position is defendable, believable, and truly differentiable.
It's our brand identity that lends support to our positioning by revealing its richness of meaning and potential. By not relying on current fads, our brand identity defines our communication style and spirit. This communication is what brings out our particular brand persona and values – something that’s unique and that is how our new brand identity will bolster our positioning.
Could you provide insights into the core messages your rebranding aims to convey?
Every marketing communications activity has a singleton objective: to deliver a specific message from us to our customers. There might be a second-order objective behind communication: to change perceptions or to drive a business action, and many more.
In the case of this rebranding exercise, our recipients are our employees, investors, customers, partners, and the HR community. Through this project, we have conveyed the below core messages.
Our raison d'etre aka brand purpose: To empower every HR professional in achieving their ambitions.
Our vision: To become the go-to-HCM software that is trusted and recommended globally.
Our brand value system: POWER
o Design for People: Authenticity drives us. We empathize with all stakeholders, aligning our products with HR processes for meaningful impact.
o Own the Experience: HROne values accountability, prioritizing top-tier customer support for our community, and ensuring excellence in service.
o Lead with Results: We challenge norms for customer and community betterment, driven by passion, curiosity, and continuous innovation.
Behind every great brand transformation, there's a unique story. Can you share with us the most memorable moments or challenges faced during the rebranding journey?
The rebranding journey has been an unforgettable adventure for all of us. One of the most memorable moments was when we went exploring our brand DNA, seeking to answer the fundamental question: Why does HROne exist?
Finding the answer to that simple, but not-so-simple question, was a soul-searching process that took months and lots of whiteboarding. When we finally defined our purpose, it ignited a renewed sense of passion and clarity in our team. Of course, no journey is without its challenges. The other biggest hurdle we faced was figuring out the right visual identity and how we take that to the market. We experimented with lots of options before zeroing in on what you see right now.
However, as a team, we thrive on the challenges, fueled by our dedication to empowering HR professionals. The process of brainstorming, collaborating across teams, and bringing our brand identity to life was truly rewarding.