Why To Communicate Your ‘Software Is For People’
This article is part 3 of our series on how to improve your product brand. Be sure to read part 1 and part 2 to learn what it takes to push the boundaries of product brand in today’s design environment and how brand can connect the dots of your overall product.
If you’re working in digital products today, it’s highly likely you’ll be interacting with software products.
Around the world, thousands of SaaS companies are in flight or about to take off, and there’s no sign of slowing down. That means if you’re working with a product in the SaaS space, getting your brand right and avoiding the trap of using the same old SaaS story can be a challenge.
But there are paths to a greener pasture, and getting on the right track is as simple as remembering the people you serve through your brand.
“Brand is what humanizes your product and connects with people beyond the screen, and far beyond a single interaction,” says Innovatemap Brand Strategy & Design Principal Andy Kennedy. “When the right opportunity calls, that’s why you shouldn’t fear letting your ‘software be a little softer.’”
Perhaps especially in B2B SaaS, tone shouldn’t sound the same from product to product. Tone matters to your brand because it needs to be a reflection of your audience.
Tone can go in many different directions, but once you make a decision (hopefully based on your product’s positioning) you should stick with it. Otherwise, you risk confusing your audience or breaking trust.
Let’s take a look at this in process. Lemon.io connects companies with ready-to-work developers, and it speaks directly to the people making those hiring decisions (startup & scale-up executives). The tone is direct, with phrases that are specific to the industry (“you find yourself dangerously close to the valley of product death”). But it works because the product serves founders who will get the references and connect with the way it’s said. The brand sounds like them. The tone helps the intended audience connect to the brand.
Tell A Story
When it comes to branding your software, stories are one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience. This is true for several reasons:
Stories are memorable. It’s how humans have communicated for generations. People of all backgrounds understand, and delight, in storytelling because it’s a familiar medium.
Stories illustrate your product’s value. They show, rather than tell, how your product is different from competitors, and what the product contributes to the landscape.
Stories showcase your product’s impact. They describe how a life is changed for the better, in relatable terms that your audience should connect with and understand from personal experience.
One of our favorite examples of this in practice comes from Ready, which provides calendar software for meetings and scheduling. Ready positioned itself as a company that won’t settle for the status quo, and they explain why through storytelling in their brand. The story, which becomes most clear on the company’s website, is so powerful because it describes:
- Actors: “For some reason, someone decided calendars should be designed to jam our day full of meetings…” refers to an antagonist (the source of a problem), and sets a scene that’s in need of a hero (the product, Ready).
- Tension: The message is nuanced; the story recognizes the potential in scheduling, without neglecting what’s broken. The story shows Ready is not only aware of the problems; it creates a space where Ready can describe their solution while empathizing with users in need.
Software Can Be Soft
As you work through your software product’s features, remember who you are speaking to at the end of the day: other people.
Many software products are NOT soft in their brands, and usually for the sake of being/feeling premium. The language used to describe the product is formal, technical, or so focused on the product that it neglects the person on the other side.
But software products big and small have much to gain by communicating with a soft strategy in brand for the sake of connecting with their audience. Doing so is how you make your brand approachable, and your product easy to understand & support.
If you’re a B2B brand especially, you need to convince your audience that your product is worth the investment. Using your brand to set a tone that empathizes with your audience, and to tell a story that illustrates the softer parts of your software, is a powerful way to connect with the people who need your product.