The Evolution of Creatopy (formerly Bannersnack)

Listen Audio – The Evolution of Creatopy (formerly Bannersnack)

Evolution means change, and like other living organisms, companies too grow until the point that change is necessary. For some companies, it’s not just a simple rebranding process but a fresh start, revolutionizing what came before.

That’s exactly what Bannersnack had in mind, rebranding to Creatopy this February. The efforts of the entire team at Creatopy went into developing new and useful functionalities for their online graphic design platform.

The work was complex, centering on revolutionizing the entire business with advanced capabilities around design collaboration and automation.

What once was a perfect name, “Bannersnack,” no longer resonated with their product and offerings. Choosing a new name and brand identity marked their progression from a simple banner maker to a fully comprehensive and intuitive graphic design platform.

There are many active players in Oradea, a city that contributes extensively to the current global technological advancement. The city is home to 22 tech startups that have more than 300 employees. They’ve created applications that are used by more than 11 million people in 19 different countries.

Oradea-based tech products have attracted over $9 million in investments.

Among these future-forward thinkers, the specialists at Creatopy are taking further steps to address the B2B market.

Creatopy has already facilitated the success of 4 million people with visual campaigns. They’ve worked with an array of industries and clients that range from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Having reached such a high pinnacle of success, Creatopy realized that a full upgrade was necessary.

Creatopy aims to conquer the market of Graphic Design Tools, much like their competitor, Canva. As a first step towards reaching this lofty goal, Creatopy just went through an extensive rebranding process

Teodora Gavrilut, Creatopy’s COO, sat down with Transylvania Tech News for an exclusive interview about the process.

Oana: We are here at the Transylvania Tech News. Our first guest from our video series is Teodora from Creatopy. We’re going to talk about the big rebranding process that they’ve been through lately. Teodora, welcome.

Teodora: Thank you, Oana. It’s great to be here and have this conversation, especially, with you.

Oana: Thanks for being here. We’re so curious to find out so many details about the rebranding process that you’ve have done lately and to find out all the juicy details behind the process. You have transformed from Bannersnack into Creatopy. You said that the company needed a re-shift of 180 degrees. Why was such a process needed, of such a big magnitude?

History

Teodora: Well, you know, just by analyzing the name Bannersnack, as it’s composed from “banner”, which by default positions yourself in the display advertising niche and “snack”, which is something really quick, but doesn’t last long, you can say that our target audience and our mission were not properly aligned because Bannersnack as a product evolved so much that the original banner maker description was not fit anymore. And we wanted to go to other markets and to address other capabilities in the product. Because, okay, it started as a banner maker, but it devolved as being one of the leading graphic design tools in the market. But nobody knew that. They were still searching Bannersnack and associating Bannersnack with just banner making capabilities.

Oana: So your target market developed during the years, and you found new niches which were open to your product. What about display advertising? Has it transformed into something else during the years?

Teodora: It did transform into something else during the years. I mean, we have lots of formats that didn’t exist before. Lots of video options, lots of environments where you can perform display advertising. But nonetheless, the problem remained the same. I mean, no matter what tool you’d use, it would be very hard for you as a marketer, without any design skills, to be able to create for yourself, you know, just starting from a template, or I don’t know, a need, all the sizes that you need in just a few clicks. I mean, this was a very hard process for everybody. I know it because I’ve practiced it myself. So, yeah, that’s why Bannersnack was coming into place and resolving the efficiency issue that the marketers and advertisers were having.

Improvement

Oana: You also switched the focus from the freemium to the B2B segment.

Teodora: Yeah.

Oana: How come?

Teodora: So we’ve decided to change the freemium model to a free trial one and to address the business-to-business market. Because the business model we were having before was generating lots of frustrations to our users and, you know, being bootstrapped, it’s really hard to have a generous, free plan because they generate costs and it’s hard to support them being on your own. And all the money that we’ve made we’ve reinvested in further developing our product. We thought that now, with the rebranding, it’s a really good time and moment to update our business model so the positioning, the business model, and the target audience that we want to be in line.

Oana: We were talking before we entered the video recording about the quality of the data from the freemium users compared to the ones that pay, the ones that are obliged to insert their credit card details before entering even a trial. So I don’t think the users that use a product, a software for the free version, give the company such relevant data, at least that, that is what I observed during the years. And I don’t think that they offer you relevant information for future product development, as well.

Teodora: Yeah, definitely. Because they are not the heavy users that we are after. You can call them home users or designer wannabes, which just want to test their capabilities and the tools out there in the market, or even moms, you know, that want to make cards for their kid’s birthday or stuff like that.

Oana: They are the ones which will never pay.

Teodora: Exactly. They just want to stay free forever. And of course, you don’t want to build your product roadmap based on the usage data that the free users give you. No, definitely not.

Extra features

Oana: So you didn’t only change the name, but also the features of the product. What kind of extra features did you bring to Creatopy?

Teodora: So for example, in Bannersnack, you could test the collaboration features only if you would go through the sales team and it would start the trial. The main difference in Creatopy is that no matter what plan you are in, you can collaborate.

Oana: So this is like project management on design.

Teodora: Yeah. But also collaboration or organizing at scale and creating at scale. For us, it’s really important efficiency and productivity because time is a really valuable resource. And I don’t know, especially now with the pandemic, since people are working from home, you know, they are really tired because they don’t have that mindfulness. I mean, their work is in their home. Before they were separate. Being able to collaborate through a design platform and share your feelings, you know, through design, with your colleagues, it’s the main difference. I mean, this is the line that we are following right now in development and we are pushing for advanced collaboration features.

Easy to customize your workflows

Oana: Can collaborators also give feedback to each other?

Teodora: Yeah. And, even now, in the next few weeks, I mean, this is really exclusive information, we’ll have the collaboration features updated with a really big set of new improvements.

Oana: Excellent. I think it’s a great feature because you have to download the project, send it by email.

Teodora: Exactly.

Oana: Or another kind of communication. But you have there that data in real-time and everybody can see it, get modifications. So it’s kind of a drive and project management and design. I like it.

Teodora: Exactly. And for example, you can, if you are a reviewer or you’re working with multiple clients, you know, and you have different teams working on different clients or projects, you can be part of all the teams. So it’s really easy to customize your workflows. Everything can be adjusted based on your needs. I mean, that’s what we need. So everybody can use Creatopy based on their needs.

B2B segment

Oana: So what about the B2B segment? I suppose you have different segments in this market. Do you address creative agencies, as well? Do you address the marketing departments in the companies, the designers, the independent designers, freelancers, small businesses?

Teodora: Definitely. Our starting point and target market would be small, medium businesses, businesses which are mature enough that they invest more and more, of course, money and time, in developing the creative needs, especially for social media or advertising needs, whatever their visual needs are.

Support department – The new customer success field

Oana: What about the support that you provide? Is it different now than before for the freemium model or for regular users, different for companies?

Teodora: No, not that different in the model, because even before we had a dedicated account manager only to team clients, which was the higher tier. And now it’s the same. I mean, the enterprise teams, which means they have at least 10 members within a team, they get a dedicated account manager, but the support is still the same and top-notch and state of the art. Whatever description you want, it’s the same for everybody. I mean, even this is a differentiator, if you want, in the market, because all our clients say our support is top-notch. And it’s really rare when you have people in the support team that really know the product, it’s a rarity now in the market because it’s a service that is externalized most often. I think it’s really important. I mean, it’s the success that you provide to your future client.

Oana: Yeah, exactly. The customer success. It’s no longer called “support”. It’s the “customer success” department. I just think it’s a great attitude towards customers.

Teodora: Yeah.

photo source: Creatopy

Creatopy – Create and Utopia

Oana: Okay. So, I’m very curious about the name. It’s really interesting, how did it come up?

Teodora: Throughout the rebranding, we’ve worked with our partners, with Brandient. And actually, the name is composed of CREATE and UTOPIA because this is our dream. We want to, have teams and creators all over the world to have the perfect environment where they can express their creativity without having to think about the redundant and repetitive tasks that just take away that creative flow.

The rebranding process

Oana: Very nice. How difficult was the rebranding process per se? Because you went through all this process during the pandemic. Do you think it would have been different if the pandemic wasn’t here?

Teodora: I think it would have been different, but just at the pandemic level, because we were forced to stay at home and work remotely. I mean, this is the only difference, but otherwise, the process would have been as complex as it was during the pandemic. We’ve changed our methodology in order to accomplish our goal of launching Creatopy at the beginning of this year. And, you know, this is what happened at the beginning of 2020, and all the forces were held online. But then, because we were forced, you know, to enhance our online collaboration, we realized, okay, I mean, this is the perfect moment actually for us to launch Creatopy because collaboration will be a key part of what’s happening next.

Oana: Co-creation as well.

Teodora: Yeah. Especially. I mean, just imagine, during the pandemic, lots of companies that, okay, were planning to improve their digital capabilities, were forced to adopt solutions. But I don’t think that all of them realized that now, because of the context of the pandemic, you can access talent from all over the world. We’re talking about creatives, you know. It just helps you scale your visual production needs, go to market faster, have innovation because they are all collaborating on creating something in the same place.

Oana: Exactly. I think collaboration fosters innovation on levels we haven’t seen before.

Teodora: Exactly.

About the user experience with the rebranding process

Oana: How did the existing user base receive the rebranding? How was it for them?

Teodora: They are eager to migrate to Creatopy. Bannersnack, as a product for its clients, still exists. They are still able to use it, but they already expressed their desire to move to Creatopy as soon as possible. And we are working and prioritizing a plan of having a personalized migration solution in place for them. Because, I mean, everything we’ve built and everything we are building from now on is centered around our client. We have a really strong and close connection with them. We communicate with them all the time. And I think this is key.

Oana: Yes. And it is a differentiating factor.

Teodora: Yeah. Exactly. It is. I mean, we’ve been able to validate prototypes before going to market, you know, and having to change them again, just by keeping close to our clients.

Oana: Receiving feedback so you could test the features.

Teodora: Yeah. Feedback is really, really important for us. But from the relevant audience.

Creatopy

photo source: Creatopy

User acquisition

Oana: Yes, exactly. That is the point. I wanted to ask you about user acquisition. How did you proceed with that after the rebranding?

Teodora: I was a little bit skeptical and I didn’t know what to expect because we’ve changed lots of things with the Creatopy business model and pricing included. But Creatopy is on the market for two weeks right now. And we only have one full week of acquisition because of the free trial model. And I mean, comparing the acquisition power of Creatopy with Bannersnack in the same period of time from the number of users that signed up in the timeframe, Creatopy has a higher acquisition rate of 45.5% than Bannersnack. It’s really encouraging.

Romanian users

Oana: I want to ask you about the data from Romania. Have Romanians signed up for Creatopy?

Teodora: Okay. They did, but still, the US is our main market.

Free trial plan 

Oana: It’s interesting to see this switch, this complete shift not only in name but also in the features of the product and of the pricing. So what’s new in terms of pricing? You don’t have a freemium model anymore, do you have the free trial?

Teodora: Yeah. The free trial for every plan you want to test before purchase and see indeed if Creatopy is solving your creative needs. We still have the free plan, but it’s limited as it was before. But through the free trial, we are definitely solving the frustrations, issues of the users. We’ve opted for the “opt-out” trial model. Just to be sure, you know, that the user who wants to try Creatopy really understands why, and where is the value that Creatopy brings into his workflow. None of the less, we are still focusing on the free users that are joining Creatopy and if we see that there is potential because we qualify them, then we’re educating them. I mean, I think this dedication part is really important in the success in the long run.

Oana: Do you have different prices for different plans?

Teodora: Yeah. As before, exactly before. They are a little bit cheaper, but the features are packed in different ways. Before we were having three individual plans and one team plan besides the free one. And now we only have two plans and that’s it. And the enterprise model.

Oana: Which is custom-made.

Teodora: Yeah. It’s custom-made. We have the API there and the single sign-on that’s coming soon. So it’s definitely no enterprise.

photo source: Creatopy

Rebranding with a Romanian agency

Oana: I want to ask you about the rebranding process per se. How was the experience? Because you’ve been through COVID-19 during the rebranding process, I think it was a story itself. And you did the rebranding with a Romanian agency. How was the experience of the rebranding, of shifting everything, of changing the logo, the product features, the approach, the company culture?

Teodora: Complex is the first word that comes to my mind. We were really thankful and grateful that Brandient accepted to be our partners in this journey. I mean, they were truly partners. They understood first of all our CEO’s vision and what he wants to accomplish, and they were there for us and they still are every step of the way. And we thank them for that. But yeah, it was really complex. I mean, we had lots of ups and downs and new workflows, new methodologies implemented, new features, new environment to develop. I mean, you still had to offer support in Bannersnack and, you know, still develop something at the beginning of the year for Bannersnack clients. It was really hard. I’m really glad that we pulled this one off and we launched at the beginning of the year. It was not easy. It’s not my first rebranding, but I can tell you that it was the most complex one that I’ve been through.

Oana: But it’s a process of innovation, of transformation. And you just level up, you go to a different stage and you approach things differently from a new mindset. I’m very curious about the company culture. How is it different now and how did it transform the organization?

Teodora: We have values and we have a mission and those were never defined before. So everybody embraced them. I mean, the values are based on our beliefs, on our beliefs as a team. I mean, you know, they’re representing us. I mean, I don’t even think we are talking about adopting them because they derived from us. Everybody’s passionate about technology. I mean, technology is our core, you know, I mean, of course, I love technology, I mean technology. And we’re a design tool. Of course, we mean design. And we’re here in Oradea. Of course, we love Oradea.

A competitive organization in Oradea

Oana: It’s a subject that I wanted to approach. How is it possible, people ask themselves, to develop such a successful IT company from Oradea, which is a small town in Romania, and to be extremely competitive on the international scene? How difficult is it to build a competitive organization in Oradea?

Teodora: If you care about the people, it’s not that difficult. I mean, you have to cherish them and appreciate them as individuals, besides being a workforce. We have great talent here in Oradea. You just need to invest in them, help them develop, help them develop in the company in the first place, because okay, I can hire myself for a role. But then, because I’m passionate about something else, I can migrate and shift to another role, and this is something that’s happening in our company quite often. And I’m really happy about it. It’s possible. I mean, you just have to believe it. We hear stories about big companies that were started in a garage all the time and you know, it’s happening in the US and other countries. Why not here? It’s the same.

Oana: So you give courage to other entrepreneurs.

Teodora: Yes, definitely. And we already have some other startups that were launched here in Oradea that got investors and they are a big success now right now.

Oana: Do you plan to attract investors in the future?

Teodora: We haven’t done it so far. We had some really interesting conversations on this topic, but we don’t really have something to announce at this moment. We will do it when there’s something to tell.

Oana: Okay. I want to be among the first to know it.

Teodora: Okay. That’s a promise.

photo source: Creatopy

The elements of a successful rebranding

Oana: Okay. What are the elements of a successful rebranding? What are the critical elements, Do’s and Don’ts that you would like to share with us?

Teodora: Oh, wow. Don’t imagine that it’s just about updating some colors and the logo. It’s much more than that. Think of the rebranding as the ideal moment where all the planets can get aligned. It’s a costly process, so make sure you have enough money and you’re ready to invest in this. And not invest just with money, but, you know, invest your time in this process. You need to be there in every step along the way. Empower the people, trust them. They know what they need to do. And find a really good rebranding agency or partner that’s there with you and can help you achieve what you want.

Oana: You need really strong partners to guide you along the way, because, from the inside, rebranding just blinds you from a lot of critical steps that you might miss or overlook. Somebody as a pure observer to tell you, you know, you’re doing this right, you need to optimize here. You definitely need a long-term partner in this process.

Teodora: Yeah. Definitely. Even if you have a really strong in-house team of marketers and designers, you still need a partner.

Future plans

Oana: I agree. So where do you see Creatopy five years from now?

Teodora: Conquering the graphic design tool market, of course. We are in a continuous growth mode right now. And we have a saying that we love: if the sky’s the limit, redesign the sky.

Oana: Exactly. What’s beyond the sky, then?

Teodora: Imagination, but we’re working on that too. To help enhance the creative process. It’s something that sits on our minds as well.

Design automation – the main differentiator

Oana: One last question. How is now Creatopy different from its competitors? What does it bring differently?

Teodora: Design automation. It’s the main differentiator, still is. And the possibility to organize at scale. Those are the two differentiators among our competitors. Soon, there will be others as well.

Oana: How important is design automation? Can you explain it a bit?

Teodora: Well, of course. I mean, imagine that you have to create 10 different sizes for 10 different environments in a marketing communication campaign. I mean, you can do that in Creatopy with a few clicks. And bop, you have all your visuals there, you have your brand elements, you can just apply them. You can start with one of our templates, personalize it, customize it, or you can just start on your own. It’s really, really easy. And, how we see it, you know, it’s the entire process: you create, you then serve, and then you can optimize. And it’s the flywheel, if you want, the marketing flywheel, it’s the same. We want to cover all of the areas and not just download, upload on the platform, see that you just need small tweaks on your design. No, just preview it directly in Creatopy, see if it fits your needs if you want to make smaller adjustments, and then just serve it.

Oana: I’ve seen some data from Creatopy on which banners perform better. Which I think is great info for the users: to really take that tested knowledge from Bannersnack and just apply it to design automation.

Teodora: Yeah. We will continue this series and we also have some partners that we’ll be working with and get more relevant data out there in the market. I think it’s really important, even from the brand perspective, you know, it positions yourself as a thought leader.

photo source: Creatopy

Developing in Oradea for the whole world

Oana: What it’s like developing a software product here in Oradea for the whole world?

Teodora: It’s rewarding. I mean, it’s really rewarding. And honestly, the team is great. I mean, they are the pillar of Creatopy’s success. I’m really being honest when I’m telling you that I’ve never seen people united by a common goal in what happened here in the last few months. They are really great.

Oana: Excellent. Teodora, thank you very much. Wishing you the best of luck.

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