5 Branding Lessons for Great SaaS Leaders
Learn how to stand out in the software-as-a-service crowd while targeting the right customers.
Every year, more people turn to the internet to solve problems and make purchases, with 2021 boasting a particularly sharp spike in online eyeballs. It's no wonder, then, that software-as-a-service has become a flooded marketplace.
With so much competition, it’s never been more important to keep the edge — and branding is the way to do it.
Herein are some of the more important things that I’ve learned when it comes to effectively letting your SaaS flag fly.
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Names boost searchability and vice versa
Everyone’s looking for a search engine optimization that will best make bank. If they can turn it into a copyrighted name? So much the better. However, keywords don’t always make the best brand names.
Just take a look at Google’s first iteration: BackRub. If they'd stuck with THAT, instead of Googling terms, we’d be "BackRubbing" them.
The name you choose for your SaaS company should be easy to pronounce and write, both of which will help with your audience’s ability to remember. Keeping it short is also a good idea, as is the uniqueness factor. If it sounds too much like the competition, it could create confusion.
But another branding lesson that stands out: using searchable, industry-related terms within your company name. Logo Design, my latest logo creator software, is a phrase that is directly related to its niche and is easy to remember.
In short, it ticks all the boxes.
Don’t follow the trends — CREATE the trends
Visuals are one of the most important parts of effective branding. The way we design our image sends a message to our audience, draws the eye, makes marketing easier and creates a divide between our brand and the competition.
It’s inevitable that, in my SaaS company — and possibly in yours — there’s going to be some overlap with the rivals. There are some needs that all demographics have in common. We can see how this gives rise to companies that offer the same basic services: I can communicate with my team through Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, and a host of other apps that provide for the same basic solution.
It isn’t the services, but the image itself, that define a successful SaaS company. What my brand looks like may be even more important than what it offers.
Different industries have different visuals, from colors to fonts to logos and for SaaS? I’ve found that it’s more effective to branch out from trends.
If you do it right, you’ll have competition trying to follow you as a trendsetter. The audience remembers who did it first.
Related: This SaaS Founder Sold His Business to Oracle for $9.3 Billion
Word of mouth marketing
The example that I most often point to when it comes to word of mouth marketing is Slack. It's the fastest growing SaaS brand of all time and this strategy is what got it there.
Not only is this the most cost-efficient technique, but it can boost a brand significantly, especially in the early days. We’re all inclined to pay more attention to a service if someone we trust has had personal experience with the company which, in turn, illustrates the importance of excellent customer service.
Happy customers will talk about your brand, but so will unhappy customers. If you can resolve complaints to the satisfaction of the client, you’ve just guaranteed yourself some great (and free) word-of-mouth marketing.
Find the emotion
SaaS communication brands aren’t all based around the same need and therefore orient around different emotions. Google Apps, for example, is based on professional teams and everyday users. It’s no less a need, but it varies widely from apps like ZenDesk, Salesforce, and Concur, which are used to bring customer support, sales and finance professionals together just as often as coworkers.
Successful branding means we have to know the needs of our audience and leverage the emotions connected to that need to motivate them to use the services we offer.
Know thyself first, audience second
Rather than assessing the competition's demographic, I’ve found value in starting from the source: myself. Analyzing what I had to offer, and how it would meet the needs of my potential audience, has been my business model from the beginning.
The only way to grow a successful SaaS brand is from the ground up. That way, you can be confident in your ability to provide for the needs of your clients — and they’ll be confident, too.
Related: The Rise of SaaS: New Syllabus for Digital Gig Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor