Bolt rebranding was a success

Who remembers Taxify any more? Rebranding from Taxify to Bolt went well regardless of some not-so-good wordplay in Russian language.

Karin Kase  Photo credit: POLINA BRZHEZINSKAYA

Interview with Karin Kase, PR manager (CEE markets) at Bolt

How big is the a role of PR play in Bolt?

A very important role, without a doubt, and we take it very seriously. Many new customers find their way to us thanks to the PR department because people trust more the information they hear from the news instead relying on commercials. There are of course some exceptional countries where all of the media is for a fee and it is not possible for enterprises to promote themselves for free.

Now, whenever we expand into a new country, we always cooperate with a local PR bureau and a local team. Because what works in one place, does not necessarily work in another. That is why we use their help to understand and adapt to the local market. For example in Ukraine the general direction would be lifestyle and softer stories but in the Baltic states and Central Europe people need more facts and data. But all in all the differences are not that noteworthy. Main interest of a customer is that the car would arrive fast and that the cost of the ride would remain low. These other things are nice to have, but are not paramount.

That is why we always try to get our operative side to run smoothly. E.g. we take less commission from our drivers. Other platforms ask about 20-25%, but we keep it at 15%.

Which means that our drivers are happy and attract more customers.

What messages get the attention of media?

Just saying that we have low fares is definitely not enough. We rely more on our main value, that no matter the city and its size, we will bring the customer to the right place quickly and comfortably. Because we do not only offer taxi service with cars but we also take in account the problems with local traffic. E.g. traffic jams in Africa are notorious and you can waste hours of your time. So we came up with motorcycle taxi which allows to move around faster there. And in Paris we introduced electrical scooters. Actually we are launching them in Estonia too, in a matter of days. So we always try to adapt to local transportation needs and offer solutions.

Is scooter a seasonal thing in Estonia?

We are not quite sure yet but it is clear than you cannot ride them in deep snow. At some point we need to gather them but they will definitely be there in summer. About 120 of them.

Can you elaborate on the differences in the Central European market? How do you gather information on what will expect you when you open your business in a new country?

As I mentioned before, cooperating with the local team is the key. They give us a good overview of clients, market and leaders. We also hire a local PR company who offers us insight into the local media. Often the differences can be crucial even inside one big country. We do not have such a problem between Tallinn and Tartu, but for example what works in Kiev, might not work in Harkov or Lviv. Journalists there often want favours in return of publishing the article.

What is the position of Bolt in the Baltic region?

I can say that things are pretty good here. People know and trust us. Especially in Estonia since this is our home market, but also in Latvia and Lithuania people feel that this is a Baltic brand. This just feels more close than Yandex from Russia or Uber from the States. So when speaking of countries, where our brand is well-known and extra advertising is not really needed, then Baltics would be at the top of this list.

We are also very popular in Africa. About half of our enterprise is there and many locals even seem to think that we are an African company. Of course there you also have completely different rules for PR.

What do you think of content marketing? How much does Bolt use it?

Let's say that in the markets where PR can be done for free, we will find a way not to pay for it. Of course we do marketing online, in FB and IG, but overall we only pay for advertisement when it is unavoidable. We always prefer objective media.

But how to get free PR?

That is why we use the local PR teams who help us to figure out what is currently topical in this given country. When there are problems with legislation and whether ride hailing in itself is even legal, than there is of course no point in promoting ourselves with fun stories of our drivers. You need to sense the public mood. E.g. in Romania we got into a tricky situation, where the government accepted a law which essentially made our activities there illegal. People reacted to the situation by collecting signatures for a petition that supported us. Last time I checked they had reached 300 000 signatures. So what I am trying to say is that there are countries where we feel that the value we offer is important to people.

How did the rebranding from Taxify to Bolt go?

Overall it went well. No indicators dropped, people used our service like before. Of course many wondered why we decided to change the name and why did we pick this one. It was even a bit difficult for myself to get used to the new name in the beginning, but now it just rolls of the tongue. There is, unfortunately, a side meaning for this word in Russian. Not a very nice word.

Did you know about it before?

We knew it but unfortunately it is near impossible to find a name that would work in more than 30 countries, would be memorable and sharp and also vacant to use. So we had to compromise.

In Ukraine, we heard, that people welcomed our new name by making memes about it. We wanted to channel it and asked our talented marketing team designer to draw a comic as a response to this wave. Our Ukrainian colleagues were sad about the memes but I assured them, that we should take it as a compliment. If people are willing to invest their time in drawing funny pictures about us than it means that our brand is important to them and we are known.

Balticbest 2019 creative festival takes place in Tallinn on August 30. The day consists of two parts: the gala of advertising prizes and the visit tours of cool Estonian businesses. REGISTER HERE

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