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A CMO’s View: StubHub rebrands itself to show it is “more than just a ticket”
Launched in May, StubHub's rebranding efforts included its first-ever global campaign, aimed at reaching a wider variety of audiences.
In May of this year, StubHub launched its first global campaign to introduce a new brand identity aimed at modernizing the company’s look and feel. According to StubHub CMO Jennifer Betka, the rebranding effort included an entirely new set of design choices, with a more contemporary logo and a bolder, more flexible color palette.
“It was a concerted, thoughtful effort to modernize StubHub’s identity, appeal to a wider variety of audiences across every aspect of experiences by genre, and place the power of emotion that comes with attending live experiences at the forefront of our brand,” says Betka.
The CMO says the transition from StubHub’s former logo design to its new stagelike representation was a way to carry forward the idea that events and concerts are inherently social, as well as provoke a sense of imagination around event experiences.
“All of these elements are intended to strategically position StubHub as your ticket out, inspiring people to envision themselves as part of the audience — to get off of their couches and experience live events.”
Now, three months into StubHub’s rebrand efforts, Betka was generous enough to share what the process was like — from the decisions behind the brand’s new design choices to the challenges of launching a global campaign around its rebranding initiative.
1. Find the gap you can own: Take a cue from sports and study your competition, but make resonating with your intended audience the first priority.
2. Future-proof: Think long-term about not only where your company is, but where it will be. Anticipate and aim for a position from which you could leap to the next stage.
3. Be thoughtful: Every change was incredibly strategic and intentional. It’s important that every change, no matter how small, has resonance in order for your rebranding to make sense to the consumer on an overall journey.
Amy Gesenhues: To start, tell me more about your role as CMO and your focus at StubHub?
Jennifer Betka: As a lifelong marketer, I have a passion for things that are artful. At StubHub, I see my CMO role as being an architect of experiences, as we design and execute our vision of connecting people to inspiring event experiences.
Done correctly, this, in and of itself, is an art form because we are offering people the chance to create memories and craft a set of experiences that influence a lifetime.
Put into practice, I own all of the marketing-related elements of the customer life cycle — from how people think about our brand, to what it feels to engage with StubHub, to how the experience resonates before, during and after. My team is made up of more than 50 members, and with our recent acquisition of Ticketbis, is located around the world.
AG: How do StubHub’s new design choices better reflect the brand?
JB: Our new design takes us out of the transactional space and builds on the fact that StubHub is more than just a ticket — We’re connecting people with their passions, their spirit, and creating memories of a lifetime.
The new design tunes into the emotion of attending live events. We are emphasizing connections with people, and we want StubHub to be THE brand that owns the benefit from connection all the way through the experience.
AG: How do you hope the redesign impacts StubHub’s overall global marketing efforts?
JB: StubHub’s redesign boosts our overall global marketing efforts by giving us better flexibility to work with more brand partners and attract a bigger audience, both domestically and globally.
The redesign also reinforces our heritage as the first ticket marketplace brand and the brand distinguished by establishing a better way, which now we are doing with more emotional truth.
This new brand identity is much more multi-faceted to appeal to a wider audience, whether in countries where StubHub is well-known or in new markets where we have to establish ourselves.
AG: Going into the redesign project, what research did your team do? Can you share any specific data or analytics that informed the project?
JB: No decision of this magnitude is ever made in a vacuum. Early on, we challenged ourselves to imagine our brand connecting with fans of boxing great Anthony Joshua as a meaningfully as fans of Adele.
As a marketing organization, we were tightly aligned with the needs and goals of the business, and once StubHub established its new vision and approach about connection and emotion, we then brought those to life through our rebranding efforts.
We did extensive research into what type of logo, typography, color palette and marketing imagery would best reflect our strategy, brand character and appeal to a broader audience. For example, with the logo, we needed something bold and dynamic to act as both a functional and versatile part of our brand identity.
We also needed to change our typography to a modern typeface that would enforce a consistent brand voice and be versatile enough to span across different genres. Similar to our new logo, our color palette needed to be bold and dynamic to reflect the emotional nature of live events.
Finally, our marketing imagery needed to show authentic moments. We take an angle visually that reinforces the point of view of the audience, harnessing the power of visual storytelling that also differentiates.
AG: How many iterations of the new branding did you go through before deciding on the final design?
JB: The speed of our process surprised even me. It only took us about six months from ideation to launch. There are a lot of variables to take into consideration as you are rebranding such a massive company, and although we took the time to make sure that we got it right, it was quite natural.
AG: Did you work with a design agency? What was that process like?
JB: We worked with Goodby Siverstein & Partners on the redesign based, first and foremost, on our business strategy and a collaborative approach. Their team presented a vision for the StubHub brand and innovative ways to bring it to life and together we expanded, refined and then further edited the direction.
My philosophy on working with agency partners is that the process is as important as the result. That the two, in fact, are interrelated. It’s important to participate in the process, not outsource direction — This was certainly the case in our collaboration with GS&P. They are a true partner and play a key role in propelling our brand forward.
AG: Internally, which StubHub teams were involved in the rebrand?
JB: Beyond our marketing team, StubHub’s product, customer service, communications and partnerships/business development teams were all extensively involved in the rebrand process.
We unveiled aspects of the new identity to product first, and made sure employees experienced our new brand in a manner that was, in and of itself, an event.
It was important to make sure our employees saw it before we showcased it on the world stage.
AG: When undertaking such a major redesign project, how do you ensure there is no loss of brand recognition, and by extension, loyalty?
JB: What’s interesting about StubHub’s position is that we are well-known in our core US market, but around the world we know that we have to work to do to introduce ourselves. So, while we need to emphasize expanded brand consideration and loyalty in the US, which accounts for the most significant part of our business currently, we focused on our new brand identity appealing to a wider, more global audience.
AG: What were the primary challenges around launching the rebrand campaign?
JB: StubHub is in the experience space, but enabled by technology. And this can be an opportunity and a challenge.
We need technology to scale our marketing efforts, while at the same time still connecting with people on local and personal levels. As we thought about how to best identify with StubHub going forward, we paid special attention to the ability to speak broadly to a global audience, while still recognizing that people were individually evaluating the benefit of experiences that run from $10 to thousands of dollars.
We feel quite lucky to see the trajectory of our efforts aligned well with expectations on both brand and relationship marketing fronts.
AG: Any feedback you can share so far on the rebranding campaign?
JB: The concert of everything we’re doing is having a positive effect and doing what we’d planned for it to do. We are bringing new audiences to StubHub — new buyers and reactive buyers — and we’re seeing them be more engaged with the brand.