Driving Drupal Forward: Suzanne Dergacheva on the Strategic Rebranding of Drupal

Driving Drupal Forward Suzanne Dergacheva on the Strategic Rebranding of Drupal

Suzanne Dergacheva, co-founder and strategist at Evolving Web, is a pivotal figure in the Drupal community. As the lead of the Promote Drupal Initiative and a member of the Drupal Branding Panel, she brings extensive experience and passion for helping organizations adopt and excel with Drupal. Suzanne's commitment to Drupal is evident through her numerous training sessions for teams across North America and her active participation as an elected member of the Drupal Association Board.

Our founder and lead, Anoop John funnily notes that,

"At this rate, she will hold the record for the most number of Drupal events (DrupalCamps and DrupalCons) attended by a person of a given age. Appreciate the commitment of the Dergachevs to the Drupal community."

In this interview with Alka Elizabeth, Sub-editor at The DropTimes, Suzanne discusses the ongoing Drupal rebranding efforts. She shares insights into the key factors that prompted the rebranding, the collaborative contributions from the community, and the challenges faced in a competitive landscape. Suzanne also highlights how the new branding strategy aligns with Drupal’s commitment to the open web and the significance of community feedback in shaping the final decisions.

Additionally, Suzanne elaborates on the design thinking behind the new visual identity, the strategies to engage diverse audiences globally, and the educational outreach efforts to increase Drupal adoption. This conversation provides a comprehensive overview of the exciting changes underway for Drupal, complementing our earlier interview with Shawn Perritt, about the brand refresh.

Suzanne is excited to be keynoting Drupal Dev Days Burgas 2024 on June 26 in Bulgaria! 

"It’s my first time going to the event, and I’ve always wanted to go. Looking forward to three days of nerding out about the Drupal Starshot initiative and making progress on Drupal marketing efforts."

Join us as Suzanne Dergacheva provides an in-depth look at the exciting changes underway for Drupal and the collaborative efforts driving its rebranding initiative.

TDT [1]: What were the key factors that sparked the decision to refresh the Drupal brand at this particular time? Were there specific challenges or opportunities that prompted this evolution? and what specific goals did you set out to achieve?

Suzanne Dergacheva: We’ve long recognized that Drupal needs a more external-facing brand and marketing that speaks to evaluators selecting a platform. But creating a few marketing materials isn’t enough. It’s obvious that a brand evolution is needed to get folks' attention and for the brand to reflect the innovation of the product.

TDT [2]: As a collaborative effort, this rebranding involved contributions from various community members and external consultants. Could you elaborate on your role and the unique perspectives you brought to the table?

Suzanne Dergacheva: Open marketing is a challenge and not many brands have to do it! I hope we can learn from Drupal’s open-source model for code contribution.

Suzanne Dergacheva at DrupalCon portland
Suzanne Dergacheva at DrupalCon Portland 2024 presenting Drupal Branding session

TDT [3]: What were some of the most valuable insights or feedback from the Drupal community that influenced the final branding decisions?

Suzanne Dergacheva: Drupal’s differentiator is the community. It’s diverse and that’s a key element to the brand.

TDT [4]: Drupal is a powerful free and open-source platform, but it competes in a landscape with platforms (often SaaS and other Proprietary platforms) that have significant marketing resources, established brand recognition, and dedicated sales teams. Could you paint a picture of the unique challenges Drupal faces in this competitive environment?

Suzanne Dergacheva: Proprietary systems invest a lot in sales and marketing, and Drupal’s investment comes from the many agencies that build and support it. We have to join forces to create a consolidated marketing strategy together.

Suzanne Dergacheva
Suzanne Dergacheva

TDT [5]: WordPress, while also Free and Open Source, has become the dominant CMS with a massive user base and extensive ecosystem. How do you approach differentiating Drupal from platforms like WordPress, particularly in terms of market perception and user adoption, when they may seem like easier or more accessible options to some?

Suzanne Dergacheva: Both systems were developed around the same time, but they have a different focus and approach to innovating new features. Drupal is squarely in the enterprise space, but I think it can also be accessible to site builders using it for the first time. That’s what the Starshot initiative is all about.

TDT [6]: Drupal's commitment to the open web is a fundamental aspect of its identity. How does the new brand strategy tangibly express this value, both visually and through messaging? Can you provide specific examples of how you're showcasing the benefits of an open web to potential users who may not be familiar with its significance?

Suzanne Dergacheva: The brand narrative borrows directly from the Open Web Manifesto that Dries unveiled last year. That’s the key to Drupal’s value as a digital public good.

TDT [7]: The visual aspects of the new brand, including the logo, color palette, and design elements, are striking and modern. Could you explain the design thinking process behind these choices and how they represent the essence of Drupal?

Suzanne Dergacheva: The diverse color palette represents the diversity of the community, and the logo adjustments make it literally more open, as well as more modern.

Suzanne Dergacheva and others at EvolveDrupalNYC
Suzanne Dergacheva and others at EvolveDrupal New York City

TDT [8]: As a global community, Drupal caters to diverse audiences with varying needs and preferences. How have you ensured that the new branding resonates across different cultures and languages? 

Suzanne Dergacheva: The typeface for body text accommodates a large array of character sets and we’re excited about using the brand to get marketing materials into more languages and new markets.

TDT [9]: With Drupal being both a CMS and a DXP, how do you plan to reflect this dual identity in the content on Drupal.org and the marketing toolkit?

Suzanne Dergacheva: The fact that Drupal is a strong CMS makes it a natural starting point for building an open DXP. I don’t think these ideas are separate, and helping people see the strengths of a strong CMS core is essential to Drupal’s differentiation.    

Suzanne Dergacheva with her child
Suzanne Dergacheva with her child at DrupalCon Portland 2024| Source: Anoop John| LinkedIn

TDT [10]: Educational outreach seems to be a significant focus for the Drupal community. Could you elaborate on the specific ways you are engaging students, new developers, agencies, and internal advocates to raise awareness and increase adoption of Drupal?

Suzanne Dergacheva: At Evolving Web, we’ve long invested in our training program and making training accessible. I think that DrupalCamps and Local Associations are also essential to making Drupal training more widely available. Personally, I’ve given guest lectures at local schools in Canada about Drupal. Building relationships with institutions will help get Drupal on the curriculum. That said, having a strong brand will also encourage newcomers to learn Drupal.

TDT [11]: Coming out of DrupalCon Portland, there's a palpable sense of motivation and excitement about the new Drupal brand. During the presentation, the importance of amplifying the brand using open marketing tactics and inviting marketers and end users to contribute was emphasized. Can you elaborate on the specific types of contributions you are looking for from volunteers? How can both small and large contributions make an impact, and what are the immediate priorities for those who want to get involved?

Suzanne Dergacheva: We need agencies and individuals to take ownership of certain marketing deliverables. There are opportunities to help with copywriting, design, project management, and general marketing. I encourage you to go to drupal.org/marketing to learn more about available opportunities.



TDT [12]: What immediate impacts have you observed since the introduction of the new brand? Have there been any notable reactions from the community or other stakeholders?

Suzanne Dergacheva: I think folks have been incredibly positive about the new brand, and everyone recognizes the value of presenting a strong brand that appeals to evaluators. I pitched Drupal this morning using slides from the new pitch deck and I think it makes for a more confident presentation of Drupal as an innovative product.

TDT [13]: Looking ahead, what are the key priorities and milestones for the brand evolution? How do you envision the Drupal brand evolving in the years to come to continue meeting the needs of its diverse and growing community?

Suzanne Dergacheva: Once the brand has been implemented on Drupal.org and at DrupalCon, it will really push it to the forefront. We need folks to support the Drupal Association (with contribution effort and also funding) to make this a reality.

Disclaimer: The information provided about the interviewee has been gathered from publicly available resources. The responsibility for the responses shared in the interview solely rests with the featured individual.

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