“It’s more than just name change; it represents a few major milestones for the brand,” Cheryl Goh, group VP of marketing told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “We started out as a taxi booking app in Malaysia but now offer taxis, private cars, bikes, deliveries and carpooling across Southeast Asia. It’s an umbrella brand for a bigger vision.”
Goh added that it's commonplace for startups focus on growth marketing in their early years and find disproportionately greater value in brand marketing as they scale and mature.
“We’re no different, and we’re reaching that maturation point,” she said. “The rebrand has given us a crystal clear idea of who we want to be and what our brand stands for. From now on, all of Grab’s campaigns will reflect our brand personality to be daring, positive and genuine.”
Grab currently offers services across 28 cities in 6 countries: Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The company claims that as of January 2016, the app has been downloaded onto more than 11 million devices regionally, with more than 200,000 drivers in the network.
In addition to GrabTaxi, the company’s taxi-hailing service, the product platform now includes:
- GrabCar (private car services)
- GrabBike (motorcycle taxis)
- GrabHitch (social carpooling)
- GrabExpress (last mile delivery)
Goh described the rebrand as a “celebration of our journey as a small startup that has become one of Southeast Asia’s biggest tech successes.”
“However, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” she added. “Growth has to be our only constant in a sector that’s constantly growing. “
In explaining the new branding, Goh said the company chose chose ‘freedom’ as its core message to reflect Grab’s ultimate goal to make safe and reliable transportation accessible to everyone.
“It is something so simple, yet so many people in Southeast Asia have limited mobility. It’s about making our brand stand for something meaningful in the price-elastic, cut-throat world of transport,” she added. “Grab stands for a belief that we can improve the lives and livelihoods of both passengers and drivers.”
Focus for 2016
Asked about the company’s marketing priorities for the coming year, Goh sai that the focus will be on building brand loyalty in the app transportation space.
“The big marketing hypothesis in our space is what role can brand loyalty play in a sector that operates like a commodity market—price elastic, supply-demand driven and fast-moving,” she said.
Goh added that it is the team’s belief that consumers make choices both on functionality and based on a desire for corporations to play a positive role in the society they live in.
“With transport being such a hot topic socially and politically, we believe that we can build brand preference for a transport platform that is actually solving Southeast Asia’s core problems,” she said.
“I want people to think of Grab as the choice when it comes to transport, and that we are a caring and committed brand who is there for them,” she added.
Goh declined to disclose how much the company spends on marketing annually, or how much has been invested into the rebrand.
Goh said that the rebranding campaign is an “an integrated 360 degree” regional marketing and branding campaign that will roll out in all countries the company operates in.
“We are working with various agencies to ensure a successful outcome in all the local markets,” she added. “It is important for us that we get our messages through in the right localised context and at the right time.”
According to Goh, the rebranding campaign will comprise of three key components, the first being an OOH campaign featuring Grab’s signature green lines that will be placed prominently on billboards, buildings, highway pillars and specially wrapped taxis.
“Grab will be taking visual ownership of each city’s transport routes to reaffirm who we are and what we do underneath this new umbrella brand,” she said.
The second will be a customer engagement programme, that will see the company deliver “GrabSwag” to its most loyal users.
“They will be the first few to get their hands on the new Grab merchandise,” said Goh. “It is our way of thanking them for putting their faith in a young startup and believing in what we do.”
The final component will be “Grab Freedom Day”, an extension of the company’s CSR efforts and employee outreach programme where all senior and middle management experience at least once, being a driver for a day.
“Grab Freedom Day is an extension of this initiative to remind us of what it means to be a driver,” said Goh.
“It will be our biggest region-wide on-ground activation with the Philippines to roll out first on 29 January followed by Singapore and Malaysia the next day,” Goh added. “Vietnam launches on 2 February and Thailand and Indonesia will follow suit a day after.”
Passengers will stand a chance to win free rides in vehicles driven by Grab employees, celebrities and elite drivers. The company will donate the value of the rides to local charity organisations that are progressing transport-related causes—an amount that the company estimates will be around SG$50,000 (US$34,945).