How Rakuten rebranded: From PriceMinister to Rakuten France
2018 was a year of great change for PriceMinister. In March, the company–which joined the Rakuten group in 2010–officially rebranded to Rakuten PriceMinister, and has since transitioned to Rakuten France.
So, how do you rebrand one of the most recognizable brands in French e-commerce without loosing the connection built up between employees, partners, and most importantly, millions of users over the past 17+ years? We spoke to Alexia Lefeuvre, Head of Communications at Rakuten France to get the inside scoop.
First off, congratulations on the rebrand! But why now?
PriceMinister is one of the strongest brands in France and we didn’t want to risk loosing merchants or customers by just changing the name overnight. But with the vital momentum of the FC Barcelona sponsorship and the overall growth of a united Rakuten brand in Europe, we felt that now was the right time to go ahead and become part of its global story.
How did you start the rebranding process?
Change has to come from within, so getting the internal communications right was key for us. Efforts included a complete makeover of our office where we added a lot of Rakuten flavor like red carpets, new logos and an updated design language that reflects the Rakuten philosophy. The main platform for communicating internal change however, was our Asakai, our weekly all-company meeting, where we fostered ‘one brand spirit’ and reiterated the importance and opportunities of becoming Rakuten. When the day of the brand change had finally come, you could actually feel a different spirit inside the office, like a fresh and exciting new start.
Rakuten France announced their rebrand via a nationwide TV ad campaign.
A new start for the partners and clients that you’ve been working with for years as well.
Exactly! That’s why in all our communications processes we focused on the Rakuten story, not just a new logo or a brand color, to fully explain the benefits of this move. The biggest element of the brand change on the B2B side was definitely our Rakuten Expo, which is a an important yearly conference and exhibition for Rakuten partners and merchants – this year we invited all of our sister companies to really showcase the combined power, know-how and reach of Rakuten in the region, and to help partners understand the full potential of the brand that we are a full part of. We also added some Japanese flavor for personality by sending out Maneki Neko (“Greeting Cats” – one of the most popular lucky charms for businesses in Japan) to our Partners and VIP clients.
What steps did you take to communicate this change to your millions of customers?
We made sure that everybody knew about the rebrand straightaway and we invested heavily in PR, media and online campaigns, as well as a nation-wide TV campaign. Our goal was to not only show the change, but explain Rakuten’s unique value proposition and get people excited. We also took journalists to Tokyo to help them understand our heritage and our company culture. My personal highlight though was our collaboration with celebrity-chef Thierry Marx, who created an amazing menu around the theme of “Omotenashi,“ which is the unique spirit of Japanese hospitality.
Are you satisfied with how everything turned out?
Absolutely! Of course this is just the start of the Rakuten brand in France, but we’re already the 7th ranked French e-commerce company in terms of traffic. Feedback from customers has been very positive. They’re not only accepting the new brand, but are curious to learn more about it. And we’re just getting started: Now we can finally fully leverage all the amazing sports partnerships that we have around the world and take on a leading role in the expansion of the Rakuten ecosystem in Europe – to start connecting the dots.
More images of Rakuten France’s exciting new look: