B2B rebranding on a budget with Idan Gol, VP Marketing at Mesh Payments

When your brand values don’t align with your website, visuals and messaging, that means it’s time for a rebrand. But in B2B tech startups and scale ups, oftentimes when a rebrand is most needed, it’s the most challenging to accomplish – limited budgets, resources and time. 

On this episode of the FINITE Podcast, Idan Gol, VP Marketing at Mesh Payments, shares his tips on rebranding on a budget. He tells the story of how he came up with a new brand for Mesh Payments in just two weeks through strategic outsourcing and planning. 

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Full Transcript:

Alex (00:06):

Hello everyone and welcome back to the FINITE podcast, where today I’m joined by Idan Gol. Idan is the VP of Marketing at Mesh Payments. And we are talking all about rebranding, but specifically rebranding on a budget and short timeframes. Idan joined mesh payments as VP of Marketing, and immediately kicked off a project to rebrand, rolling out a new brand across various assets, working with partners, working with stakeholders internally. And he’s gonna be telling us all about how he did it and how he might approach it differently in the future. Hope you enjoy.


Alex (00:39):

Before we continue with the episode, I’d like to give a quick shout out to our partner, Terminus. The only account-based engagement platform built to deliver more pipeline and revenue through multichannel account-based marketing. As the only native multichannel marketing platform, Terminus helps you convert target accounts through orchestrated campaigns using personalised advertising, email signatures, and chat bots. Visit terminus.com to learn why doing effective ABM at scale means better marketing.


Alex (01:05):

Hello Idan, welcome to the FINITE Podcast. Thank you for joining me.


Idan (01:08):

Hey Alex, it’s great to be here. Thank you for hosting me.


About Idan and his current role at Mesh Payments


Alex (01:11):

Looking forward to talking. I think this is gonna be a great one. We talk about branding a bit, but I think this is a nice tactical hands on episode we’ve got coming up. Before we dive into it, as we always do, I will let you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your background and experience and your current role and team at Mesh Payments.


Idan (01:31):

Great. So I’m Idan, based in Tel Aviv, I’ve been in online marketing for the past 10 years. At the beginning I started more in growth roles and then I shifted more into product marketing. So I always see myself as having experience in both. In the recent few years I’ve been leading some marketing teams and in the past year and a half, I’m here at Mesh Payments. 


I’m the VP marketing and I’ve led the entire team from when we just entirely started when we were 15 people in the entire company. Right now we’re 160 to 170 in the company and already 16 people in the marketing team. So yeah, it’s been exciting, exciting times here.


Alex (02:13):

And how quickly, what kind of timeframe has that growth been?


Idan (02:16):

The growth from zero to three people, it was pretty quick. It was when I just joined in six months and then I think in the last six months we grew from three people to 16 people.


Alex (02:33):

Very cool. I mean, I think we need to have a bit more of an Israel focus because we’ve had a few guests on the podcast, but there’s just so much innovation and great fast growing scale up tech happening in Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel. So it’s so cool hearing about all the success stories. And tell us a little bit about the marketing function, those 16 people, how’s it structured? Is it the standard functions that people might expect?


Idan (02:56):

So, when I initially divided the team, I wanted to have everything from the growth team all the way to communication. And then I always see that in two ages and in the middle, the product marketing team, content and the design team and creative team. So, it’s pretty much divided into five teams and that’s how we split it here at Mesh.


Alex (03:22):

Nice. So we’re talking all about rebranding, but specifically rebranding on a budget is our focus. I know this is a process you’ve been through at Mesh Payments. Maybe we can set the scene and almost go through it in order, but you can give us a sense to start with what Mesh Payments was like when you first joined. I think you said that the marketing team was what zero or just yourself to begin with.


Idan (03:44):

Yeah. So there was a marketing manager before me, a few of them. One created a website, one started some campaigns, but when I joined, there was no one. I think the product was really there. We already had customers. The business model was amazing. 


We give a lot of values for finance managers and we do it for free. So I was really intrigued by that and it really got me on board with the team, but when I joined the company, the marketing was really nothing. We had almost no campaigns, no real branding and story. Nothing was really there, no marketing stack, I didn’t know where leads come from, where they go. So it was a real challenge in building everything from scratch.


Alex (04:23):

I can imagine. And what was the brand situation when you first joined?


Idan (04:29):

So when I joined there was a website, but it was summarised by that. The story was messed up and it wasn’t settled yet.


How do you identify the need for a rebrand? 


Alex (04:37):

Fair enough. And so, the next question is, what are the needs of a rebrand? Like how did you identify the need for a rebrand? That’s probably quite an obvious answer.


Idan (04:48):

Yeah. So, I think everyone, when they join a company, especially if it’s a new company, you always ask yourself why does this persona need my product? And I think you get this question from everyone, but definitely when you try to create marketing assets you have to ask that ongoingly. So I did that. 


And then we did a process of understanding the strategy and what are we and what are our values. And I think once you understand the values of what you’re trying to enter the world, and what your brand looks like. Beside the fact that the story was not yet there, but also the design and everything around that, it had a big gap in between. Then you understand that you need to go through rebranding.


How to get buy-in for a rebrand 


Alex (05:33):

Makes sense. So I think any rebrand project for any company is quite intimidating and can feel like quite a big thing. Particularly when I guess up until this point, it’s fair to say the brand had never really been formally approached. It just probably happened by accident, like any early stage growing tech company. I guess you do what you need, you do the minimum and you’re not really serious about scaling marketing or growth at that point. So you get by. 


But what was it like still being a smallish company, early stage? I assume founders and others have strong opinions on brands as they always do. Can you give us a sense of how you got the project underway, how you approached it internally?


Idan (06:16):

Definitely. Look, honestly, it wasn’t easy and it’s not an easy decision when you approach branding, as you mentioned, it’s a huge project. It takes a lot of resources and a lot of the time and the focus of the team and it doesn’t necessarily always stick up as the most important thing. Because you already have a website, you have everything. 


They think we just did a website and a brand that was decent a few months ago. It’s for sure not, it shouldn’t be the priority. The priority should maybe be to go for more growth, let’s bring more leads, let’s focus more around bringing more business. But really I think, and by the way, I fully understand them and I felt them, but I really think as a marketer, you need to understand and be honest with yourself and understand if there is a big gap between the messaging and the visuals and everything you try to send, the messages you’re trying to send, to what you exist. 


And like right now if the gaps are really big then I think that this is the best time to invest. It doesn’t make sense to wait with it. And then, already spend a lot of money and a lot of effort doing a lot of activities on your brand and then change it a few months after. You’re only wasting money that way.


How to deal with the subjective nature of a rebrand 


Alex (07:33):

Absolutely. Needs to be done properly. So was it a difficult process getting everybody on board with needing to do the project to begin with? I guess the challenge with brand projects is often that they can be quite subjective, right? 


And so lots of people have opinions and the more opinions you have, the slower things move, it’s not just the resource, right? Like the time commitment from the team is big, but actually the subjective nature of it and the opinion based side of it makes them often much more complex.


Idan (08:01):

So yeah, first of all, I really believe, as you know, they bring you to be a VP marketing and if they do then they need to put some trust in it. Otherwise it’s not gonna work. It’s a long processes. 


So first of all, I’m fortunate enough that I eventually did have all the trust from my management team and my founders. And eventually we went through this, and then I agree with you, I decided it’s not common, but you know, a lot of what we’re going to speak about today is going to be on how we also did it on budget and how it was also turned out to be quickly. And for me, like more efficiently, but it’s not good for everyone. 


Back then, as I said, I had only one content manager in the team that was the right person to work on that. So I needed to outsource everything. So I tried to keep it very, very lean. I tried to separate the brand itself, the design, and do very few cycles of when we can choose on the design. And I told them to set expectations with everyone. I chose specifically a freelance designer that helped me with creating the whole brand. 


We did a sprint over two weeks, so that didn’t give us a lot of time to think and to go through this process that we needed to do everything in beforehand. And I think it worked really well because when you set a timeframe for that, and we worked for the two weeks, like 24/7, and we worked hard on it and we set the strategy and everyone was super happy. 


At the point when we showed everyone the assets, but I think when you set it to timeframe, you need to be more true to yourself with timing when you do it this way. And when you do everything by yourself and not taking a big company that eventually will do everything for you. 


Undergoing a visual rebrand in two weeks 


Alex (09:51):

Yeah, absolutely. And so maybe you can give us a bit more detail on which bits you outsourced. You mentioned working with a company, an agency or freelancer. How much of it was driven by you internally? And actually, with any project like this as well, cause when we talk about a brand it can often mean so many different things. How much of it was almost like the mission statement, the proposition, the why you exist and how much of it was just like the visual side of brand?


Idan (10:20):

So I think we put a lot of effort into both. So I took a freelancer that I knew that worked with me at a previous company I worked at weeks before that. I took him to start creating the entire story of Mesh. And what is the real story behind us? What is the taglines, what are the most important messages we want to convey? 


Then, as I mentioned, we took a designer to really create only the branding internally. We created all the wireframes for all the pages, all the content that we already did internally, and had a long process with the product and everyone involved there for the technicality. And then we took another designer to continue the website and all the assets and create everything from there. Definitely, you need a website developer and a video producer. 


So we really took on like six or five different functions of outsourcing. And we did everything very guerrilla, we didn’t look to one agency and pay like three times more than what we would’ve potentially paid. And it would also have taken three times more in timing, but we did everything very effectively and almost all internally with outsource.


Alex (11:33):

Cool. And two weeks for that first phase. I mean, that’s pretty rapid, right?


Idan (11:38):

Yeah. That’s very fast. It was so quick.


Alex (11:42):

Do you think, slightly playing devil’s advocate, did it allow enough time? I guess sometimes there’s an organic process, right? With a rebrand, no matter how hard you force it, you have to accept that certain things need time for reflection. And your perspective is that in having the tight timeline it forced some stuff through in a good way?


Idan (12:05):

So I think it’s definitely important and you need to set expectations before you come to this type of process. You need to understand from yourself first, what you want, and you already need to make some reflection, get some ideas, get some inspiration and come to this process ready in that turn. 


But on the other side, as I mentioned, it’s good. And also we had a lot of time after we set the branding on that to make the tweaks in how we want our product to look, because we had a longer process after that in creating all the assets in the first two weeks. It was really only about the branding, only about the logo, the colours, a little bit of visuals and how we want things to look, but we had more time after that to develop it and continue working on that. So it’s not like two weeks and that’s it we’re done.


Alex (13:00):

Makes sense. So it was a two week initial sprint and then that set you up with everything you needed for the next steps. I guess there’s a little debate in and around the industry about tech companies looking the same or having similar styles of brand and design. How did you approach that in terms of wanting to stand out, in terms of differentiation?


Idan (13:21):

Yeah, especially in our landscape, a lot of people we’re speaking to are finance managers and I do think that a lot of our competitors go more to the safe zone. They try to be on the safer side. They try to make everything more bright in the background with animation and look very nice. 


And when we set the values of the company and when we thought of what are the values that we want to convey, part of them was boldness and innovation. And that’s what we try to bring into the design. And we try to use the design as a tool to show differentiation as well, not only the messaging itself where a lot of companies say I’m telling you what my differentiation is. I’m a big believer that you can also show it by different aspects of design.


Alex (14:10):

Makes a lot of sense. How much competitor research was that part of the process? Like, did you do a lot of research into competitors and how they presented themselves?


Idan (14:20):

Yeah, definitely. We did a very long process for that.


The importance of a website for scaling a B2B brand 


Alex (14:23):

Let’s talk a bit about the website, because obviously delivering the initial brand is just the start. And then as you talked about, there’s all the various assets and the things that the brand needs to be rolled out across. What’s your perspective on the importance of a website for a B2B growth engine as you start to scale everything at Mesh Payments?


Idan (14:44):

So I came from Wix, which is a website builder. So I myself am a big believer in websites. And I really think that it’s your hub for everything. It’s not only a growth engine, it’s not only like a demo form for conversion, it’s the place for you to speak about yourself the way you really want to get out? It’s your chance. 


People like to go to a shop, they like to go to the shop, they like to see the shop. It doesn’t matter if it’s an online shop or let’s take like the physical word. They like to get into it and they like to learn what is the shop? What are the items here and what is it all about? And I think websites are the same. People come, they explore, they want to understand what your company does, they want to learn about you. They want to learn about the company. They want to see case studies of your customers and understand why they’re happy with you or who is happy with you or who is working with you. 


They want to learn, they want to read the blog or maybe watch some webinars that you have given, especially in B2B where there’s a lot of education that is being done. So maybe a lot about that. And also I think it’s everything from the upper funnel and explaining your product to the mid funnel, to really show a little bit more and all the way to eventually conversion for converting them. So definitely I think the website is a big deal of your marketing effort.


Alex (16:12):

And how did you approach it once you had the brand refreshed? Did you do a quick reskin or was it a full website project from scratch? The design, development, everything?


Idan (16:20):

We did everything from scratch. We divided the websites entirely into the product features and the benefits. So we divided it into two and then we had an entire new resource centre. We did a chatbot, which I really believe it’s a great tool for you to explore and get an upper funnel feeling when you get to the website and see a lot of stuff and you want to maybe speak to a chat bot. So yeah, we did everything from scratch.


Alex (16:46):

Cool. And how long did that side of things take?


Alex (16:48):

So creating the website, with the design, it took us around a month and a half. I think something like that. 


Alex (16:58):

Yeah. So still pretty rapid. Nice. I guess I was going to ask whether there’s anything, at least within the scope of the rebrand project, that you think you would in hindsight do differently. Assuming you still had a limited budget and time was still of the essence and the pressure. Are there things that you’d go back and approach differently either in terms of process or who you worked with or anything really?


Things Idan would approach differently in retrospect


Idan (17:24):

So, maybe I would come a little bit more prepared into the process. We kind of started it with the people that we worked with, so especially the design part, we didn’t really have a designer back then. We didn’t have even a freelance designer. And then what happened for us was that we created the entire design and then we started to look for a freelance designer to continue this with us. 


And then spending a lot of the time with the designer, you start to work with them, you don’t really like what they do. So I think that was the thing that got us a little bit stuck and wasted some time. So I would suggest if you’re going for such a project where you are going to do everything, try to really plan ahead for everyone that you are already going to work with. 


Even if it’s in a month, try to set some time with them so you don’t get to waste time. But I guess in every project, stuff happens. And especially when you do it all by yourself.


Alex (18:28):

Do you think there’s ever a situation where you would go with a big, expensive brand agency? If budgets were unlimited, would you go there or do you think you’d still actually go with kind of more guerilla, small specialist partners?


Idan (18:40):

No, I’m not against that. I think under the condition we were back then, a few months ago we didn’t have our B series yet. We have very limited resources internally. And I did a lot of this in my previous jobs, I created a lot of brands, so I felt more natural with this, but definitely I would go also for a big one the next time.


Alex (19:04):

Yeah. Makes sense. Maybe we can wrap up talking a bit more about your team and once you’re underway the roles you started hiring for. So once this brand project was underway, I’m sure you were hiring alongside that too, but what were the key roles for you when you first came in and started wanting to build out the marketing team? What was top of the list?


Idan (19:24):

So I see it as, without content and design, I don’t think marketing can do anything. And therefore I think that was one of my first positions. First of all, content, I highly believe that it has to be internal because I don’t think anyone else can really speak well about your product like someone that sits in your office, speaks with product, speaks with everyone around, understands fully like your vision, your strategy. 


And that was my first hire. But then if you want to execute stuff, doing it with freelance designers, sometimes it can be hard because you want to launch something now and then, freelancers tell you no sorry, I have like three other projects. Like, can we post it in like three days? And you know how marketing is, everything is on tight schedules and everything has deadlines. If there’s a 4th of July campaign that you want to do, you can’t delay the 4th of July. 


So that was a big problem. And that’s why we recruited that. And growth was the third section because eventually you do want to grow. You want to start a lot of campaigns. You want to test fast as well. And we did start pretty early. I said that I did a rebranding, but in parallel, we set up the entire growth team, set down a lot of the marketing automation tools and everything else that we needed to start and hit the ground and grow fast as well.


How often should B2B tech orgs undergo a rebrand?


Alex (20:45):

Do you think B2B brands need to be thinking about brand? Or is it something that’s a project delivered and that sees you through the next few years? Or obviously consistency is key in scaling a brand, but is it still something that’s constantly on your mind or is it projects done and I’ll come back to this in a couple of years time?


Idan (21:07):

I believe brands is a personality and it grows just like any one of us grows. The strategy grows and shifts of the company, the direction of the company shifts and change. So I definitely believe that brands should constantly evolve. The messages should constantly evolve. I’m not saying do a whole rebranding and a whole new design for your entire website every time your CEO has another thought of direction, but definitely brands evolve and shift and change all the time. 


I think a good example for that is Gong, that did their third rebranding in only a few years. And they shifted each strategy to go into more revenue intelligence and they changed everything then, and then they shifted it again. So I see a lot of brands evolve and I think it is super important to always think of where you go and what is the strategy and how you can adjust there. And then when the gaps, again, I’m going back to the beginning, when the gaps start to be too big from the values that you wanna send out to the world to where you are today, this is when you really need to go to a new branding.


Alex (22:15):

Absolutely. And maybe we can wrap up by looking into the future and what’s next for the Mesh Payments brand. Is there any big projects coming up? Maybe you don’t wanna give too much away, but what’s, from just a wider brand marketing angle, what’s the priorities?


Idan (22:31):

Yeah. So one of the teams that we hire here is branding a creative team and video and a creative manager and designers, because I really believe, and I see it also, B2B brands, they’re now in super bowl ads and in great places right now. And it’s really exciting to see that. And I think that B2B brands are now more than just being like a solid professional. And that’s where we’re trying to start to take Mesh. So we’re trying to do more videos and more creative ads and also offline campaigns and some exciting things that we have stacked up and a lot of ideas that we are going to start to go out with. To create brand identity, to bring out the brand more, the persona of our brand, to modify that. And I think that this is what is definitely next for our brand.


Alex (23:27):

Cool. Well, it sounds like you’ve got lots of exciting plans and it’s nice to hear of a great, fast growing B2B tech brand really investing in brand in all the right ways by the sounds of it. So I’m sure it will pay dividends into the future. So very exciting. Well, thanks for joining Idan. It’s been a pleasure hearing the story of the Mesh Payments project and thanks again for sharing everything.


Idan (23:48):

Great. Thank you, Alex. Thank you so much for hosting me here.


Alex (23:52):

Thanks for listening. Before we go. Just one final shout out to our finite partner 93x, the digital marketing agency working exclusively with ambitious fast growth, B2B tech and SaaS companies. Visit 93x.agency to find out how they partner with marketing teams to drive growth.


FINITE (24:08):

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