I am currently reading Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, an excellent book detailing the history of the multi-billion dollar company that revolutionized SaaS (Software as a Service) into mainstream business. It is exciting and inspiring to read how Marc grew one of the most successful companies to date amidst the dotcom-bomb that engulfed so many online startups. Salesforce.com has transformed the way that millions of businesses operate by introducing an alternative from expensive and quickly outdated enterprise software with affordable and scalable cloud computing services.
One particular lesson I learned from Marc that I want to share today is on the importance of branding and the delivery of your company message. Marc eloquently writes,
“Whether or not you engage a PR firm, always ask yourself, ‘What is my message?’ Position yourself either as the leader or against the leader in your industry. Every experience you give a journalist or potential customer must explain why you are different and incorporate a clear call to action. This does not require a large team or a big budget; it just requires your time and focus.”
This is a very important lesson that every business and online store owner should take note of. There are hundreds of thousands of online stores available to consumers today, how does yours stand out? What is your message and how are you delivering it to your customers and potential customers?
Salesforce.com differianted themselves with a branding message that implied the end of software. Bruce Campbell, now Chief Creative Officer at Salesforce.com, developed the No-Software logo below to illustrate this message. Believe it or not, the logo was ill received by almost everyone within the Salesforce.com organization and PR agency’s working with them. But Marc stood by the logo because it delivered the most important rule in marketing – the necessity to differentiate your brand.
The logo is still used today in Salesforce.com branding and I am sure will become an iconic logo that will be remembered by marketing professionals for generations to come. But as Bruce Campbell says, “A logo is simply a graphic representation of a company. A brand is more. It has to be a collective set of memories.”
The logo is an important piece to a companies brand, but the company must use its people, products and messaging to consistently reinforce the same positive points they desire to demonstrate. A companies brand that sends an emotional message beyond product or service facts is any companies most important asset.
As Marc writes, “If the company’s facts (speed, price, quality) are superior to the competition, any good competitor will duplicate them, or worse improve upon them, as soon as possible. What a company can own, however, is a personality.” Salesforce.com owns the No-Software branding not because they are the only ones utilizing SaaS and cloud computing, but because they were the first to think it was important to customers. They created a a powerful branded personality by “consistently delivering an attitude that is future focused and pioneering.”
Take note of the importance of creating an emotional branded message and spend time developing your own. The branding and messaging your company delivers will allow you to stand out from the competition.
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