Kym Frank and Lee Rafkin sat down over nachos and Coronas to discuss the Geopath rebrand one year later.
Lee: Hey Kym. It’s been one year since we created the Geopath brand, formerly known as The Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement, or TAB. I thought it would be a good time to look back, take stock, and talk about the lessons we learned.
Kym: Absolutely. I cannot express how passionate we are about our new brand. It was a really exciting turning point in our evolution as an organization. I had just joined TAB, and I knew that we needed to completely reimagine who we were, to become more relevant and valuable to our members – advertisers, agencies, and media owners. Our rebrand continues to be one of our greatest accomplishments, because the strategy we created is really our “north star”… our roadmap for decision-making as an organization.
Lee: That is so encouraging to hear. Evolving organizations need a single-minded brand strategy to focus everyone on what you stand for, what makes you different, and why people should care. Increasingly, branding today is about storytelling and culture. On both counts, TAB’s story needed an update. And the culture needed to become re-energized.
Kym: That is so true. We had our work cut out for us. But, that’s why I appreciated the process we followed, not just the results. Repositioning and rebranding an organization may seem like something you can do on your own, but in hindsight, getting help from an outside expert, someone from outside of our own bubble, was essential. You recommended that we form a Brand Council made up of our members, and involve them every step of the way in creating our vision and voice. You facilitated a very effective (and fun) process. It was incredibly empowering and inclusive. Making sure all our members were involved and heard through the Brand Council, and facilitating buy-in, made all the difference in the world. It energized and focused our membership like nothing else. And it rallied everyone around a new brand, a new vision, and a new culture for Geopath. It was awesome.
Lee: Agreed. Everyone involved came to understand that rebranding as Geopath was about much more than just changing the name…although I must say, the Geopath name is pretty cool.
Kym: The name was only the beginning. In order to map out where we wanted to go, we first had to take an honest look at who we were, warts and all. In order to change people’s perceptions of us, we needed to understand how we were perceived in the first place.
Lee: That’s right. That’s why we started at the beginning, with market research. We talked to advertisers, agencies, and media owners. We identified the pain points and barriers you faced as a brand, and we called them out in a “case for change,” so everyone knew exactly where we stood, and where we wanted to go.
Kym: We learned so much through this process, and it really did help us develop a very focused roadmap. We learned we needed to evolve how people saw us from an ‘old-school’ billboard ratings bureau to a dynamic leader in OOH audience measurement. From slow moving and bureaucratic to more agile, accountable, and entrepreneurial. We needed to be less opaque and more transparent and accessible. Less siloed and more integrated. Less old-fashioned and more of an ‘Ad-Tech’ culture. We identified what was holding us back, and we addressed it in a proactive way that pointed us in the right direction.
Lee: Once we did that, the answer seemed so clear. In the face of such disruptive change in advertising, insights, and technology, we needed to establish Geopath as the trusted leader and the OOH standard. And, we needed to create a value proposition that was bigger than just OOH ratings. We needed to acknowledge how data analytics, mobile, geo-location, and other technologies were changing our business. And how it was changing how we looked at OOH audiences. So, we ditched the descriptor “OOH Ratings” and defined what we do as “Audience Location Measurement.” This sent out a clear message that Geopath was shifting its focus from measuring inventory to measuring people, and how people interact and engage with advertising of all kinds as they move throughout their day. This was a huge step-change, in how Geopath saw itself, and how we told the story to the market. Suddenly, people started to actually understand what Geopath does.
Kym: From there, we developed a brand positioning, focused on the biggest benefit Geopath provides to the market – “Powering a smarter OOH marketplace.” It is exactly how we see ourselves, and how our members and the market sees us, too. Everything we do is driven by this vision of creating a smarter OOH marketplace. Our positioning felt right a year ago, and it feels even more right today.
Lee: We also focused on having an authentic voice, one that reflected the Geopath culture and your vision for client service.
Kym: True. Most of us at Geopath are research and data geeks, and we passionately embrace our ‘inner geek’. We get extremely excited about data and insights, and it shows in our culture. We launched a client helpline at email@example.com , where members can get all their questions answered. And we encouraged all of our members to consider us an extension of their own research teams. We love being nerds and sharing our knowledge. And our members appreciate it. Who wouldn’t want their very own data geek to help them?
Lee: Yup, strategy plus some pretty inspired creativity came together to build a really effective brand for Geopath. We’ve signaled to the market that Geopath is nothing like the 83 year old Traffic Audit Bureau. We designed a simple, elegant logo and visual identity system for the brand, and we launched it with a Times Square Takeover and a big party during Advertising Week 2016. It was so exciting to see the brand come to life in Times Square and on mobile billboards all around the city. Gets me every time.
Kym: Exciting? Are you kidding? My mom was so excited to see Geopath lit up in Times Square that she actually cried. No one mistakes Geopath for TAB. No one thinks we’re old fashioned, or slow moving. No one thinks we count cars anymore. Everyone loves our new brand. We can’t print up the t-shirts fast enough.
Lee: It always comes down to the t-shirts. It’s the ultimate compliment when people want to wear your brand. So Kym, anything you’d suggest to other organizations contemplating a similar branding project?
Kym: Yes. It’s so easy to underestimate how important the strategy side of branding is. Anyone can change their name or update their logo. But doing the hard work of clearly defining what you do and what you stand for…that is so important. Take the time to do the job right. Make sure you have someone who is not embedded in your organization to guide the process. It’s made our job so much easier as we take on all of the day-to-day decisions we have to make as we build out our high-performing organization. Thank you for being our Sherpa for our rebrand.
Lee: It was a genuine pleasure to work with you, your team, and the Geopath Brand Council. You guys were all-in. Brands really do matter. I’m so glad Geopath decided to invest in theirs.
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Kym Frank is President of Geopath, the OOH industry standard in audience location measurement. Sometimes, Kym matches her wardrobe with the teal color in the Geopath logo. She loves dogs, fishing, camping, Tom Waits, and a great pair of heels. Visit geopath.org or reach Kym at Kym@geopath.org.
Lee Rafkin is President of Rafkin & Company, a strategic brand consulting firm based in New York City. Lee loves creating, launching, and evangelizing new brands, and he’s been doing it for organizations of all types for almost twenty years. Visit rafkin.com or reach Lee at Lee@Rafkin.com.