On Tuesday, Mail.ru Group, a Russian Internet major , announced that it would be rebranding to VK. This will unify most of its online activities around Vkontakte, its abbreviated name.
“While market analysts and professionals know us as Mail.ru Group, the connection between our projects was not always obvious to users,” explains the group, and “it is time to change that.”
Unlike ‘Mail.ru Group,’ this new single brand “will be used not only at the corporate level but also in our products.”
“We have conducted a variety of research and experiments and saw that the VK brand has a positive effect on people’s desire to use almost any new product: for example after we renamed Worki to VK Jobs, the service’s recognition increased by 37%, and the intention to use it by 50%,” noted Anna Artamonova, Vice President for Ecosystem Products.
As part of a transition which “will take time,” some of the group’s services have already received or will receive the VK prefix — for example, ‘Boom’ rebranded to ‘VK Music,’ ‘Lovina’ to ‘VK Dating,’ or ‘Youla’ to ‘VK Classifieds.’
This C2C service “will be presented both as a separate application and website and as a section within VKontakte, [which] will expand Youla’s audience and fully integrate social commerce into the product.”
Even some B2B services will be rebranded “in the near future,” such as VK Cloud Solutions.
The new brand will be used for all future products.
There are notable exceptions in this rebranding, however:
- The VKontakte social network itself (which was so far abbreviated as ‘VK’) will keep its product brand.
- The emailing service Mail.ru and the social network Odnoklassniki (OK), which are leaders in their segments, will retain their recognizable brands — even though they will also “become an integral part of the VK ecosystem and be linked to it by unified technologies, communications and HR-brand.”
- The group’s international gaming brand ‘My.Games’ will not change; however, there are “plans to create a ‘VK Games’ platform, closely integrated with social networks and focused on the Russian audience.”
- The brands of the O2O joint venture (co-owned by Sber), including CityMobil and Delivery Club, will not change either.
As for the potential renaming of assets acquired by the group in the future, the decisions will be “made by the brand team based on analytics and research.”
From “trash holding” to VK-centric company
There is some irony in seeing Mail.ru Group rebranding to VK, an asset which it took control of in 2014 as a result of a painful financial, legal and political saga. The group expressed an interest in taking control of the social network as early as 2011 as it owned only a minority stake in it at that time.
“It would be strategic for us to control the social network, or, even more importantly, to acquire all of its shares,” said Dmitry Grishin, the CEO of Vkontakte.
He was rebuffed by Vkontakte founder Pavel Durov, who said: “We rule out, and consider to be utopian, the full integration of Vkontakte into Mail.ru Group.”
Durov left Russia in 2014 soon after Mail.ru Group finally took control of his brainchild.
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