*Editorial Correction: This post originally stated that Elizabeth Brooks is currently serving as acting CMO of Lucid, but in fact she formerly served as acting CMO.
News of Lucid’s hefty $60M raise made waves in the New Orleans startup scene last month. And for good reason. It’s one of the city’s largest fundraising round to date, led by Boston venture capital firm North Bridge Growth Equity. But we know that while big rounds draw lots of eyes, they also come at a cost. Raising ain’t easy, y’all.
Today, Lucid has more than five hundred customers in ninety two countries, according to a company statement. With a team of two hundred people in New Orleans, New Delhi and London offices, and plans to hire one hundred people in 2017, Lucid is poised for major growth.
Lucid (formerly Federated Sample; LLC) was founded in 2010 and rebranded in 2015 as a global human answers platform. What does that mean exactly? It provides human answers to its clients questions. More than 14 billion questions (and counting) have been asked and answered through its software platforms.
During the rebranding, the company was divided into three separate business units: Federated Sample, which delivers timely, cost-effective results from B2C and B2B sample projects, (sample= human beings who take surveys). Fulcrum, which is the first global programmatic marketplace for sample. And Proof, which uses human data at scale to reveal real audience in real time – and accurately measure brand lift and awareness from advertising and marketing campaigns.
Got all that? Good.
Now on to the name. By definition, Lucid means expressed clearly; easy to understand. The Lucid logo illustrates an open box that represents transparency, one of the company’s core values.
But just how clear is that messaging?
Elizabeth Brooks was the brains behind the new brand. She currently serves as an advisory board member and investor in Lucid (because we’re talking transparency here, folks). Brooks began her career as a music industry marketing and A&R executive. She formerly served as the Senior Vice President of Content & Marketing at Live Nation. She’s touched brands from music to events to tech. It was clear from our conversation that she is excited about Lucid’s future.
So what does it take to rebrand a company of such size and complexity? We talked with Brooks to gain some insight into the rebranding process, and extract advice for new or seasoned companies who may be considering rebranding.
First, what is Lucid in one line?
We lead the human answers marketplace.
You led the re-branding of Federated Sample (now Lucid) in 2015. Can you walk us through that process?
Federated Sample was facing a number of challenges in terms of its brand. The primary challenge was that it was a flourishing business without a brand, and therefore without a brand strategy.
Federated Sample and Fulcrum were business units operating as two separate companies running parallel. The problems went beyond brand, logo, aesthetics, and structure. We had to find out how to accommodate structure, brand hierarchy and set them up for the growth they were headed towards. There was incredible potential for what could be done with the data platform and new business units. That was the initial challenge.
Where do you even start?
This was one of the most exciting and refreshing challenges because we were starting from an absolute blank slate. We needed new language. We needed to create structure around the way the brand was communicated. That was the challenge and opportunity. I was just in the process of leaving my position at Live Nation and Patrick Comer (CEO of Lucid) asked me if I could take on the rebranding.
The process started with figuring out what the company structure would be. There were two business units functioning as two companies. Figuring out how that fit together was the first order of business.
We looked at the fact that the company would scale in a greater way. At some point, the company would want to grow beyond the current structure and we knew the brand would have to encompass that. The structure of the company had to make sense to our existing clients. We had companies who were clients to both Federated Sample and Fulcrum.
We got into a room and first got to work on what Federated Sample meant to us. The company as a whole was not solely in the market sample research. It became very clear that we would need a new name for the company. It required a lot of research.
“You can’t move forward with a brand until you know who you are.”
The great thing about Lucid as a company is that the team has a really strong grasp. The culture is strong. There’s no identity crisis. Everyone knows the direction in which they’re heading and there’s real heart and soul there. It was just coalescing that. We used a placeholder name for Federated Sample, we called it – BATCO – Bad Ass Tech Company.
Once we had a placeholder, we sat down with the Federated Sample executive team, and honed in on the most crucial values for the company, both business values and cultural values.
Transparency is a huge value for Lucid-to reveal the truth. Lucid data comes from human beings. The purpose of Lucid is to make what is opaque, transparent. That is apparent through the team culture. For example, the executive team is very open to the entire team. The leadership team live streams their meetings. Lucid opens up parts of its board meeting to the entire company. Through that process, we identified three core values: Transparency, Humanity and Reach.
“We wanted to build a real brand that could go the distance, be prime-time ready, a brand that could be the next Google, or Apple.”
Federated Sample deserved a brand that could take it as far as it could go. So we took those values and we wrote a defining paragraph.
How long did the rebranding process take?
Five weeks total.It was dense for sure.It is very common for the branding and rebranding process to be dragged out. It required a lot of naming research. While you’re creating this brand from scratch, you are creating a visual language that speaks to every part of the company. That’s an intense thing to create.
What was the most challenging part of the process?
You’re looking at where you are right now and you’re also looking years ahead. The Lucid team is wide open in terms of the way they look at the future. We knew that there were many industries we could tackle in the data platform. It also required hard-core research and analyses of the hard-core business. As always with branding, there was this synthesis of creative and quantitative.
How do you measure the success of re-branding?
The ones that are most immediately evident are your name, logo, your overall visual language. But it’s day-to-day too. It’s when Lucid is voted the most advanced data technology in the marketplace. When the team is excited about the new brand. When you have a clear brand, a new look, and a powerful, well-thought out message. When people outside of the company understand what the company does. When you’re at a trade show, and what your people are saying on the ground is consistent with what your team is saying. When the company grows 70% for the second year, and investors come knocking earlier than you expected, and they love the brand. How do you know that you created a successful brand? You really don’t know until you’ve created a successful brand.
What does branding really mean? Sometimes it seems like a vague term that people throw around in business.
“I think branding is one of the places where art and science meet and are equally important.”
Brand is insanely vague and it’s also vitally important. It’s the eternal puzzle. It’s brand experience. It’s trust. It’s emotional connection. Brand is always top of mind.
What advice would you give to a startup who is tasked with creating a brand, or an already established company considering a rebrand?
Know Thyself. You need to figure who you are before you try to create a brand around that. The question I hear the most from mid sized companies is we need to figure out the focus of our brand.
Future Proof. Know who you want to be and where you want to be as a business because your brand needs to be able to grow with you. It is difficult because it is such an alchemy of the creative and the scientific.
*This interview is a part of a content partnership with Assembly Required LA: a quarterly event series that gathers people from different backgrounds to do awesome things in their communities.