Recently, Canvas rebranded from Jumpstart. Maya is going to take us behind the scenes a little bit into both why they did that as well as what she learned in the process.
Listening time: 28 minutes
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Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Maya Grossman on from Canvas. And we’re actually going to be talking about a really cool topic, a real fun topic, and it’s gonna be listening to our customers, the journey from Jumpstart to Canvas.
Recently, Canvas rebranded from Jumpstart, they had a really successful company. A wonderful company. They rebranded and Maya is gonna take us kind of behind the scenes a little bit into why they did that. What she learned while she was going through this process.
So without any further ado, Maya, would you introduce both yourself and introduce Canvas?
Yeah, of course. First and foremost, thank you so much for having me here. I’m Maya Grossman, I’m the VP of Marketing at Canvas. I’ve been in marketing for more than 15 years, worked for the fortune 500, worked for startups, and just really enjoy building marketing teams from the ground up.
And Canvas is a diversity recruiting platform. What that means is that we help companies understand the diversity of their applicants so that they can actually make better hiring decisions when they’re thinking about building diverse teams.
So Jumpstart, at least when I first met Jumpstart, I’m sure there’s a history that I don’t know, of course. But when I first became aware of Jumpstart, it is really a wonderful play that helped early-stage and folks, either in college or right out of college. Kind of like that jump-start of getting people initially into the workforce, maybe a couple years into the workforce. But just kind of helping at that stage.
And Canvas has a much broader vision. Still probably working with some of the same folks, of course, but a richer kind of vision. So first of all, what did I get right about, right or wrong about the history of Jumpstart where it was positionally? And then again, some of the reasons why you moved to a different position.
Yeah, of course. So you’ve definitely got it right. When Jumpstart was founded by, Ben and Adam are co-founders, they had an idea in mind that recruiting wasn’t fair. Ben had been in the recruiting industry for 15 years, he had his own recruiting agency, and yet he was seeing a lot of bias in just the same people getting the same jobs over and over again.
Where talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not. And he really wanted to do something about it. And when thinking about the easiest way to create more opportunities, he realized it’s probably going to be earlier in the career because there’s more opportunity to get people into different industries.
And it’s a little bit of a broader play, because there are a lot of new grads that are looking for jobs. And there are more opportunities than more senior roles. So that’s how it started. And in the road to Canvas. Jumpstart has helped a lot of students, a lot of grads get jobs. We helped companies hire, sort of University recruiting. And through that process, we continued to build a product, right?
We were talking to customers, we literally built with them, we just asked them what they need, what was working, what wasn’t working. And a lot of the requests and a lot of the demand was around diversity. Because at the time, this is pre-COVID, a lot of university recruiting was happening on campus. And that meant it was very limited. You can only go to a certain number of schools, it was very hard to go nationwide.
And there was even a bias in, baked into what schools you went to or didn’t go to.
Exactly. And by turning this entire process of virtual even pre-COVID, we were able to connect recruiters with talent all over the country. Which meant we kind of broke that barrier and that bias. And the more we invested in that, the more demand we received for more information about candidates, demographics and ethnicity. So that they can make better hiring decisions.
So essentially, we started building this diversity recruiting product for university recruiters. But then we started hearing from other teams within the companies we were working with, why shouldn’t only university recruiters use this tool? We also want to have diversity information. We also want to make better choices when we hire.
So we slowly started spreading into more experienced hiring. And when we realized that’s a huge opportunity, we decided it was time to actually rebrand the company. Because to your point, the name Jumpstart is very indicative of early in career. And we wanted a name and a position that really demonstrates this big vision of making recruiting fair for all and just making this world a little bit more equitable.
I love this. So I’m a recovering marketer. And I’ve probably rebranded 200 firms. So I’ve been through, I wouldn’t say hell, it’s not hell. But I would say that people probably don’t understand how difficult it is behind the scenes to just go. Even knowing, right now you articulated, serving this audience in this way, serving this other audience in this way. Everything makes sense. Right?
Going from Jumpstart to Canvas. Done. Makes sense. But what’s not being said? Is that, okay, positioning, how we position ourselves, how we message ourselves, how do we change our name. You know, do just the legal parts of that, but then coming up with a new name in today’s climate.
Finding a domain, finding the social handles. Making sure that there’s no, there are no trademarks or any of that other stuff. And then coming up with a color palette. Font choices. There are thousands of nuanced decisions that are baked into this, that folks that haven’t been through it.
But of course, they’ve never really known that, all this stuff exists, it’s worth it. And I can tell you it’s worth it, because of what you had with Jumpstart, and what you have with Canvas is beautiful. And, and it’s well-articulated, it’s well-positioned.
But that being said, what do you what did you, you know, how did you do your research? How’d you go through the process that you had to go through for, you know, the thousands of decisions that had to be made? You know, what was it like for you?
Yeah, well, I would definitely agree, this is not my first time rebranding a company. And there’s so much more that goes into it than anyone can imagine. And just thousands of small decisions you have to make every day. I would say that in this case, it was probably easier than some of the experiences I’ve had before.
Because our founders had a very clear vision of where they want to go and who we want to be. And we also already had really great relationships with our customers. So we were able to bring them into that process, not showing them, you know, mock-ups and asking for their opinion.
Rather asking them, what is the value that you’re getting from the platform? Why did you choose to use it? How is this helping you be a better recruiter, and just having those conversations. And while it’s hard to do that at scale, we also used one of my favorite tools gone to listen to dozens of dozens of conversations, and even do keyword research to really see what comes up when we talk about value when we talk about success.
And that really helped inform the direction that we want to go. So we knew kind of the vision, but we wanted to use our customer’s descriptions and even how we’re positioned in their mind already. To really build this narrative that’s going to resonate with them.
Hardest part of, and doesn’t have to be Canvas. The hardest part of a rebrand for you?
Probably, underestimating how much work is going to go into it, that’s not marketing-related. It was fairly easy to know what we’re going to need to do on the marketing side. And then you know, you have to have product and customer success and engineering working, and probably underestimated the efforts there. So, the last couple of weeks, we’re, you know, working 24/7 to make sure that everything happens on time.
So the, you know, the adage of double the time it takes, double or triple the amount of cost, and all that other stuff. I that was definitely my anxiety as well. I also had anxiety the night before. It was kind of the week before and the week of. Of any rebrand. From the standpoint of questioning myself. Or other people. Questioning decisions that were made, you know, should we have done this? Should we not have done that? Why did we say this? Why did we use that iconography?
You know, things like that, like is, it is, for as much as we’d like to make it scientific. There’s so much of it. It’s an art and very subjective. And so, you know, I can live with a decision and have lived with many decisions, some of those rebrands better than others. But I can tell you my anxiety wasn’t just about the time and cost, which of course, I think is baked into damn near every product project. You do. But it was the anxiety of did I make the right decisions?
Yeah, I can definitely relate. I’ve, yeah, the week before the day of that was definitely stressful. But here’s the thing. So we had a couple of different milestones that I think really helped relieve some of that anxiety. So we, we build a lot of the like visual identity. And then we didn’t exactly test it. To your point, there’s a little bit of an art to it. And we didn’t just want to ask people, hey, what do you want, and then go create it. This is how you become a little bit different.
You kind of follow your own vision. But we also didn’t want to crash and burn. So we had quite a few of our friends, whether it’s our advisory board or some influencers in this industry, and we just shared it with them, we shared the almost final mock-ups just to see, you know, that we’re not completely off. And their reactions were super positive.
So that was one thing that kind of made me feel a little bit better. And then you have the details. And it’s hard because you really want everything to be perfect. But I continuously remind myself, and I remind everyone else, this rebrand, and this launch is not a day in time. This is a process. It’s something that we’re going to keep working on for the next six months, if not a year until we get to this place where we have this identity and brand.
So it’s okay if it’s not perfect, because we’re gonna make tweaks and changes anyway, we needed to work, right? The biggest thing you want your website, you know, to be up and running. And, and I think the focus was more on the messaging, let’s nail the messaging, let’s make sure that we’re in a good place. And you know, we can add more pages later. We can. Yeah, you know, different designs later. But let’s get the basics right.
Well, what’s funny, I mean, first of all, is what’s great about that is you focus on the if the rebrand is not a destination, it’s a journey. So yes, there’s gonna be an inflection point. And yes, we’ll turn on a new website and launch new demand generation campaigns. All this other stuff that needs to be done. Switch over social accounts, whatever. Those things will kind of happen as a part of the project plan. But then there’s the six 9, 12 months after that of other things we’re going to be learning along the way. Because we’re going to be learning things along the way. And because I know you well enough to say this. You’re not quite a perfectionist, but you’re really close.
I appreciate that.
Dangerously close. No, I’m just kidding. I’m the same way. So I mean, that’s why my beard is so gray. Is because of questioning all those little bitty tiny decisions that now years later, I look back at, and I’m like no one would have cared if the logo was round or square. Like what? Why was I so wrapped around the axle about that?
Oh, that’s so true. You need to focus on the big things and the things that drive impact. And funny enough, it’s actually something I’m working on. Because we were able to grow the team recently, we have more people. So I can kind of take a step back and think more strategically. So I don’t need to look at every color. That and it doesn’t matter, as long as we get the big things, right. And we follow the vision for who we want to be. And the message that we want to deliver. The font and like, yeah, a small pixel somewhere is not gonna make a difference.
Now, I used to tell people, and again I ran an agency, so it’s a little bit different, but, but like, when an email goes out, and it has an error in it, you know, a dolphin doesn’t die. So like you know, it’s okay.
If there’s a broken link, of course, I’d like for there never to be a broken link or for there to be a grammatical error. However, no one died. And it took me a long time to get to that place. I would tell you, but I want to because you brought up such a wonderful kind of analogy of thinking about this as a journey. That, yes, has milestones and inflection points.
What’s your take on gathering feedback from customers, employees, and partners, investors, you know, all kinds of other folks as well. But just kind of making sure that you’re, especially with customers, I mean, not that I would prioritize them over all those other folks. But just to make sure that you’re on that journey, that you learn things along the way.
Yeah, that’s another thing that is a journey. I think a mistake that sometimes marketers do is, Hey, I’m gonna work on positioning and messaging this quarter. So I’m going to talk to customers and then in six months to a year, I’m going to forget about them. And it’s something we really focus on internally. Every all-hands, we have a segment that is the voice of customers.
So we have a customer, whether it’s on the business side, or some of our candidates, share their thoughts about the company, about the product. And we also have regular cadences for meeting with customers, whether it’s the CST marketing, or product, we have some sort of round-robin. And we figure out you know, who’s turn is it to have another conversation. So we’re always somewhat in the loop.
But surprisingly, or not surprisingly, actually, when we did the rebrand because the difference from especially from a visual perspective from Jumpstart, to Canvas was so big, that we didn’t even have to ask for feedback. We got dozens of emails from customers from people in our industry, a lot of colleagues who reached out to ask questions, and some of our candidates who replied back and just told us, you know, this is, this is really cool.
We like this new messaging and positioning, it feels like the right, like the right direction. And it’s something that I can relate to. And when you get that without even asking, I think that’s definitely a positive reaction. But we can’t stop here. So like I said, we have regular cadences to make sure that we’re moving in the right direction. And we also have a small group internally, our advisory board, and we run a lot of our bigger ideas, campaigns, and even our messaging and positioning. We run it through them to get some initial feedback before we test it with customers.
Well, it’s a wonderful way to use advisors too. Just again, it’s advice, and it’s just a great way to soundboard pressure tests, certain things, I love that, and I love that you’re mainlining feedback. So essentially you’ve got a finger on the pulse. If you’re talking about it daily, weekly. You’ve got assemblance, you’re gonna wake up six months later, nine months later, two years later, go oh my god, we’re way off message.
So you know, if you’re paying attention and aware and you’ve got mechanisms and processes in place so that you can be aware. Then there’s less of that chance of that happening. So, a couple of questions left. One is and again, you don’t have to get out of the weeds with this. But is there anything that you’d do differently? Now knowing what you know? Going back to the entire process or is there anything that you’d do differently?
Might have started the, just might have started the more focused rebrand work a little bit earlier. So, again, this was a process. We worked with a wonderful agency, their name is Pentagram. And it took about six months to go from Jumpstart to a fully designed executed website. But we only started really working on the day-to-day execution, about a month and a half or two months before launch.
I would have added another month there just to make sure that we are, we don’t have to rush. The last couple of weeks were rushed and, it just put a lot of pressure on the team. So that’s the only thing I would do differently. Honestly, I love the result. And I think with a small team like we have that we were able to deliver it relatively quickly. I’m very proud of everything we achieved.
Yeah, you have to be. I think my regret there one time on a rebrand is I got the board involved. And really, yeah, absolute mistake, because it became you know, and I got, I got him involved too early, though. So first of all, your board of directors should always be involved in some of this important. But once it’s baked.
And I made the mistake of getting him involved too early, and it became an art project. And, you know, again, everybody has an opinion on everything. And so it stymied the process and really took something that should have been maybe a six to nine month process. And it made it two years.
It was a complete failure on my part, just, I thought it was a good idea because it was a bunch of really smart men and women that were on the board. And I shouldn’t have. Now I know, right?
Yeah, you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen anyway.
100% 100%. But which we’re getting to kind of the thing that I wanted to ask him as advice you’d give other marketers? Well, what we’ll start with the not enough, or too many, too many chefs in the kitchen. Got it? Yeah, cuz that was, that would be one of mine, check.
All right. I mean, the first thing will be to make sure you actually need to rebrand
Oh very good.
This is not an easy process. It takes a lot of time and effort that you can invest in other things. So you really want to make sure it’s necessary. Sometimes you can hit the same goals with a smaller change, or just by changing your messaging a little bit. You don’t always have to completely change your brand from end to end. So double down on that one first.
And then make sure that you have a tiger team, you know exactly who’s going to be making decisions and need to be involved in every step. And make sure it’s a very small team. I would say up to five people. But that’s it.
I love that. The other advice I give usually with folks like this is like. I’ll have marketers come to me and say, hey, my CEO wants to be to build out a user conference or build out a build on a pretty large-scale event. And you know, what do you think the first thing I say? No, don’t do it. The second part is, I say, if you’re just hell-bent on doing it, A. You’re, you’re going to need more money.
Personally. Just go ask for a raise. So they want you to do a user conference, just go ahead, flat out, ask for a raise. The second is to ask for headcount. Because whenever you go into something like that, like an event, building out a user conference, and the same thing with the rebrand.
My advice to marketers, when they go through that is the first thing to do is go back and revisit your budget completely. And first of all, revisit the budget that you’re getting paid yourself and get more money. Because it takes years off your life. Which, you know, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but maybe days off your life.
Well, we can settle on weeks, but actually, yes. One of the smartest things we did. So we have a fairly small marketing team. At the time, we were three people, we grew to four during the rebrand. And we actually ended up hiring a project manager full-time to just own the rebrand.
Best decision we’ve ever made. Not just because she is wonderful, but because it allowed us to actually think like marketers and not just focus on the logistics. And yeah, 100% have a dedicated person to own it from end to end.
Great, great advice. Thank you so much. The last question, what’s the rest of 2021 to look for look like for Canvas?
It is probably going to be centered around this messaging that we currently have about the importance of diversity in hiring and recruiting. I will, however, say that my tendency is to do things differently. I like to challenge the status quo. And if everyone is going to be doing webinars then I want to do something else, if everyone is going to do videos, then let’s try to do something different.
And with an incredible and super creative team, we have a couple of surprises coming up. I can just give you an example of something we did for the rebrand and actually haven’t shared it yet. So you’re getting an exclusive. So we started thinking, okay, how are we going to get more eyeballs on our new brand, and make sure that it’s also the right people that are seeing it.
Because we didn’t actually have a huge budget, and we didn’t want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars. And we know that our target audience, most of our customers are probably going to be on LinkedIn. So we focused on that platform. And we did two things to kind of hack the LinkedIn algorithm. The first was, on the day of the launch the entire company, 70 plus people changed their recent job on LinkedIn.
And when you do that, when you delete one, and you add a new one, LinkedIn automatically sends a notification to every single one of your contacts. So 70 people, let’s say 1000 people on average, as connections. That’s 70,000 people who are exposed to our message, zero budget.
Well, first of all, I remember that because I said, I congratulated the first that did that.
We all got congratulations.
You all got sent congratulations from me because I loved it. I mean, first of all, it’s just a great tactic. It’s also it’s, it’s using money in a very wise way. And, you know, I need to get you on to your next meeting. Maya, thank you for taking us behind the veil and talking a little bit about this. I know it.
First of all, I love the outcome. I absolutely love the outcome. I wouldn’t change a thing. And, and I just appreciate you and appreciate you talking about this.
Of course. Thank you so much for having me.
100% and thanks to everyone for listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.