But is it worth it? | Software Branding

A case for branding's impact on software.

January 21, 2021

I just wanna build a good product.

You should. And you should also build something of legacy.

How?

Help your ideal users connect with you emotionally. Give them pieces of delight with every interaction of your app. Make it easy for them to remember you and recognize you. Encourage them to trust the new things you release into the world.

In short, build a brand.

More you say?

Dashlane Messaging | Software Branding

The things said by Dashlane that reinforce their positioning.

1.18.2020

See part I of this case study

In line with the position of being the premium brand for internet security, Dashlane crafted elegant messaging that vaults their product beyond being a password manager.

How? They made it about the emotional value derived from using their product. In short, they make it about the feeling of security and being cool rather than making their password creator the hero. This is evidenced in the way they discuss the benefit of their product from their home page:

Dashlane does more than create, save, and autofill your passwords. See how Dashlane can give you a safer, simpler life online.

Dashlane is a tool, that the real heroes (their users) can use to fight against security threats on line. More importantly, they can do so without have to get vicious. Adopting messaging like this is great for many reasons and there is one in particular that is fascinating:

Dashlane's messaging allows them to exceed password management.

In conjunction with a name like Dashlane, they have shown that their brand is capable of handling new product dedicated to the safety of others on the internet. There's an important part in there that I don't want to skip over because it matters: the name.

Imagine these examples from companies within this market with a new offering:

LastPass launches a new VPN service to guard your internet usage from unwanted eyes.

Dashlane launches new VPN service to guard your internet usage from unwanted eyes.

LastPass has made it difficult for themselves to be recognized as anything other than a password manager because every time you say their name you are yanked into remembering that they are a password manager.

Conversely, Dashlane is tied to an emotional value. So long as the offering doesn't conflict with that emotional value, Dashlane's customers will eat it up. Yet another stepping stone to a safer, simpler life online.

The point? The messages in the things you promise, the way you talk about your products and services, even the name you give users to identify you are rooted in an emotion, not the product. The product is a vehicle by which that emotion is experienced. Focus your messaging on reinforcing the emotion. Build the brand on something greater so that you can continue to innovate and be trusted with new products.

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Do you really need it?

Insights from a sales pitch I encountered on my run today.

12.18.2019

I go on a run in the morning every Monday-Friday. I frequently pass by a woman who always seems to be loading her kids in her car for school as I run by her house. As she got in the car, she rolled down her window and said, "you should do crossfit!"

My response, "I like to keep it minimal."

What she doesn't know is that I've been to crossfit gyms before. They are expensive and truth be told, the workouts are outrageously intense. Could I do them? Maybe. But that's beside the point. The point is that it is a step I'm not ready to take and taking it would do me more harm than good. Crossfit is designed for people who are looking to go to the extremes of human fitness. While it certainly won't take me there (yet), I've got a good routine that is affordable, keeps me in shape, and that is patiently scalable.

The same principle applies to startups and developing a brand. While your brand is always there, since it's the gut feeling someone has toward your startup, you do not need a fully-fleshed out brand from the get-go. You don't need to hire a full-time designer, you don't need a flawless identity system, and you don't even need a formalized brand strategy to get started. There are many reasons for this but here would be the top three:

  1. The definition of your brand will change with time,
    especially within the first few years of business
  2. You probably don't have the monetary resources needed
    to do it right
  3. You haven't even validated your idea

If you are getting your startup off the ground, you cannot expect that it will be perfect or that you will be successful overnight. It takes time. So when you hear people selling you services like design, SEO, digital marketing, business planning, and the like, ask yourself: "do I really need this to get started?" Chances are the answer is no. Those things are important and, if you can afford to do them, it would be worth it. But you do not need them to get started.

Caveat: this is not an excuse to release something you are morbidly embarrassed by. You should always do the best you can and be honest with yourself about the quality of what you put into the world. But do not bite off more than you can chew and have the fortitude to be patient.

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