As an organization, who are you? What is your internal and external story?”
Russ goes on to say:
IT organizations typically are not oriented around branding and when pushed to think about it realize they have many disparate, confused, and mixed identities, each shaped by recent events with their customers. From a brand perspective, there will be no clear message which the IT customers can positively associate with.”
The IT-Marketing Disconnect
Hallelujah! And I’d go further to say that IT organizations typically have little to no sense of marketing, the core set of disciplines within which branding belongs. Many years ago, as an intern, I did a stint in both the sales and marketing organizations of a British computer manufacturer and quickly learned some of the key differences between these disciplines and how they play off against each other. As a marketing executive defined it to me back then, “Marketing is about ensuring an environment in which your products (or services) sell!” As such, marketing has much to do with understanding the market needs and dynamics, then shaping perceptions in that market so that your product’s (or service’s) ability to meet those needs is known and compelling.
Against that background, you can imagine the many shortcomings in how IT organizations:
- Create deep understanding about their markets, segments, problems their customers want solved
- Position their products and services in ways that can help solve those problems
- Make it easy to find and engage in the IT organization’s available services
- Price their services in ways that make sense to their customers and are “easy to do business with”
- Communicate in powerful and positive ways to shape perceptions about how they are solving business problems and creating value
The Power of Branding
If IT organizations were automobiles, what make would your organization most closely equate to? Would you be a Ferrari – extreme high performance, lots of pizazz, reserved for the enlightened few with the means to drive it? Or perhaps a Mercedes – high quality, superbly engineered, high technology, style, and within reach of (some) mere mortals? Or a Mazda – quality at an affordable price, with lots of innovation, to boot! Or a Chevy truck – great value, solid dependable performance for going beyond the normal needs of a family saloon?
If you don’t like the automobile analogy (which I use somewhat tongue-in-cheek) pick something closer to home – perhaps a retail store chain, or consumer service provider, or a hotel chain. Do you want to be known for breadth of service, with all the bells and whistles? Or tightly focused on some core competencies? Are you an innovator? Or more about the nuts and bolts services needed in day to day operations? This kind of branding analysis and execution may lead you to recognize that you have more than one brand to your IT organization (think FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Office!) With different types of services, different value propositions, and different ways of engaging.
The key, I believe, is to be thoughtful, as Russ suggests, about your value proposition(s) – how you want them to be seen and felt. This is not only “good marketing” – it’s also a great way to build alignment among your leadership team as you work through the definition of your organization’s mission, vision, values and brand messages.
Image courtesy of Lauren Fernandez