- Digital transformation is now a necessity for survival in the technology space
- How can marketing leaders ensure their brand architecture is lucid, coherent, technology-centric yet human-first?
- Uncover the strategy around how the 50-year-old ERP giant leaned into its brand identity and put its customers universally at the center
Founded in 1972, Epicor Software Corporation is a $500M+ legacy business that has grown to serve over 27,000 customers globally and 120,000 cloud users. While change is the only constant, how did the 50-year-old ERP brand transform into a next-generation business?
We spoke with Paul Stoddart, CMO at Epicor to uncover the strategy, challenges, and outcomes that entailed Epicor’s rebrand.
The challenge: modernizing the Epicor brand position across the market, sales, and CX
Epicor has a great foundation, a customer base that loves its products, and a consistently growing market share. Despite these positives, there was a disconnect in the product story and customers’ understanding of the company’s product offerings, priorities, and roadmaps.
“The most difficult thing that came from being a company with nearly 50 years of heritage and having grown through merger and acquisitions was our brand architecture.” – says Epicor CMO, Paul Stoddart.
To cater to multiple industries like supply chain, automotive, building supplies, distribution, and manufacturing, Epicor was selling 60+ different bespoke solutions that were “fit-for-purpose”, but overwhelming for customers. This diluted customers’ understanding of the solutions available and increased overall complexity.
“When I joined Epicor around a year ago, the organization had been going through some serious transformation,” says Stoddart. “Our CEO Steve Murphy had joined the company just a few years earlier and was driving modernization across every aspect of our business to shake up the ERP market.”
“To do this successfully, Steve knew we needed to revitalize the Epicor brand, and it was this challenge that brought me to the company,” he adds.
“Creating a high-performing marketing team was going to be key to transforming Epicor into a future-focused business.”
The vision for Epicor’s rebrand
Epicor needed simpler, more coherent brand messages that resonated with its USPs, deep industry expertise, and commitment to its customers. The rebrand signified the starting point of this transformation.
“Our new brand framework and visual identity have been created to reinforce our renewed commitment to making more of what makes Epicor unique – a curated suite of software applications and tools and a team of experts that know and understand the industries we serve, inside out,” says Stoddart.
“Above all, we also wanted to create a brand that reflects who we are today and where we’re going — one that represents the positive experience our customers have with us.”
Throwing out the B2B playbook
Epicor needed to move away from its established B2B playbook because customers aren’t just businesses – they are individuals, each with specific ambitions, challenges, and goals.
Stoddart was firm about dropping the “vendor” and “product” perceptions and shifting its marketing strategy to a business-to-individual (B2I) approach. This would ensure Epicor spoke directly to its customers and their business needs rather than solely filling in their technology requirements.
Understanding the consumer inside out
The marketing function enjoys a microscopic view of the customer and prospect, as closely building meaningful relations is what fuels marketers. For Epicor, this meant ensuring the brand was connecting at a personal level with its audiences, to create affinity with business stakeholders and their daily challenges.
“After the year we’ve been through, we are all craving kindness and meaningful support from brands,” says Stoddart. “Building trust, being kind, and speaking in a way that everyone understands is vital.”
To do this, Epicor focused on understanding its audience by finding answers to:
- What are their motivations?
- What do they care about?
- What do they need to be successful?
- What keeps our customers up at night?
By knowing the customer as an individual, the Epicor team translated this intelligence into meaningful messages that took customers on a journey of understanding. The company focused on simple, jargon-free language that spoke to the customer’s personal journey and not just what Epicor’s products can provide.
Using research to lean into the brand identity
The cornerstone for brand success is knowing the brand and ensuring that key programs align with the business strategy. The Epicor team embarked on an internal and external research-driven process to understand Epicor’s strengths and weaknesses to identify any gaps.
The rigorous program included interviews, research, competitor reviews, branding audits, and customer segmentation. They closely monitored market trends and worked collaboratively to spot clear themes that coined the brand and communications.
“We interviewed people within Epicor, our customers, and sets of individuals to represent our target audience. This informed our brand framework, architecture, and positioning,” says Stoddart.
“The research helped our team lean into who we are: a company known for its industry expertise and deep partnership with its customers.”
The rebrand journey: challenges, stakeholders, technologies, and wins
Change is scary and a grand scale change like a rebrand causes internal and external shifts. While Stoddart was charged with the mammoth challenge of leading Epicor through its transformation, he needed to ensure everyone recognized the collective ambition and willingly embarked on the rebrand as a gateway to growth and opportunities.
“There has been some resistance to change internally, which I get is human instinct to be risk-averse.” Says Stoddart. “But we’ve taken the organization with us on our journey.”
Leading with collaboration and stakeholder inclusion
Stoddart and his immediate team devised a collaborative working strategy by setting common and integrated goals. This fostered harmony across teams and helped build confidence through small wins.
“What’s important when you’re going through change is to not try to do everything at once. Small wins build confidence and can have a big impact,” Stoddart asserted.
“Prior to rolling out our brand externally, we enabled our internal audience to bring it to life.”
Collaboration was the key to success ensuring all the parties functioned in harmony:
- The HR team – to build advocacy around the brand and reset the narrative from within
- The executive leadership team lead by CEO, Steve Murphy – set the vision, mission, and served as a North Star for the rebrand
- The product team – landed on appropriate product naming that aligned with brand architecture
- The brand and communications team
- The marketing function – to train the wider team to use its new brand narrative and begin updating all of the assets
- External creative agency – to create assets and roll out the rebrand
- Heads of regional and international sales
The role of technology in reviving the brand
From setting up tools to enable the internal teams for real-time asset creation, to designing the website experience, and brand campaigns – technology served as the spine for effectively executing the strategy.
“We wanted our internal audience to become brand ambassadors, so we rolled out a templated tool capability that allows anyone in the organization to create a correctly branded asset on the fly, preapproved,” says Stoddart.
“This was about leaning into a brand of simplification… making for people, with people.”
Before going to market with the rebrand, the marketing team used Epicor’s social media to subtly tease the brand externally in January 2021. This was followed by the official launch in March the same year with the renewed branding, a completely redesigned website, and a brand campaign.
“We put our customers at the centre – creating a website backed by user experience (UX) research and a brand campaign that showcase our customers,” says Stoddart.
They also conducted a brand baseline study, which included quantitative and qualitative research from Epicor customers and the external market.
Outcomes: a human-first business advocating long-term brand relations
Epicor’s new brand strapline serves as a promise that captures Epicor’s essence.
‘Made with you, for you’
Epicor is now a coherent “Masterbrand” organized around five core industry solution sets, each with a choice of platform and curated modules. The team now follows a consistent naming protocol, supported by detailed guidelines. As Epicor continues to grow with mergers and acquisitions (M&As) the team now has a guidepost that will govern all elements across product, sales, marketing, business growth, and HR in unison.
A perfectly aligned brand strategy
Epicor now boasts a brand strategy that is perfectly aligned with its business strategy and offers a lucid brand architecture framework, visual identity, and brand language. These have provided the Epicor team with a strong toolkit to communicate brand offerings, USPs, and bolster reputation.
“The new brand positioning puts our customers at the centre — simplifying their journey while strengthening Epicor offerings by focusing on the core differentiators of industry expertise and curated solutions,” says Stoddart.
Since the rebrand launched externally in March 2021, it’s too early to measure the full impact on the medium-term pipeline, sales, conversion rates, and long-term brand value. However, two months post-launch, success is apparent with brand awareness, employee engagement, and the customer experience, particularly evident through the website.
The rebrand caused an incredible cultural shift that is true to Epicor’s new values and fabric as an organization. It has empowered the company both internally and externally to become a human-first business that values collaboration, empathy, and long-term relationships.
“Our brand refresh now reflects who we are and holds us to account. We are wrapping our teams around the customer, coming together across sales, professional services, customer services, training, and product development to deliver a coordinated, valuable experience across the customer lifecycle,” says Stoddart.
What is next for Epicor?
With a rejuvenated brand and organizational unity, Epicor envisions a strategy that integrates industry trends and product marketing plans in sync with marketing strategy.
Optimizing the Epicor toolkit and measuring its impact on the customer lifecycle stand at high priority.
“We’ll continue to work hand-in-hand with our customers and amplify their voice, creating and owning content and thought leadership that reinforces our brand promise of ‘Made with you, for you,’” concludes Stoddart.
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