Emotional brand building for enterprise software

The attentive visitor of via fCh has seen how much fun the Q&A section of LinkedIn can be. A while back I posted the question Emotional brand building for enterprise software?

Here's a little background on the above question: During my formal days in enterprise software I used to say that if advertising sold servers then we should have hired some actress/model to sell them like shampoo. At that time, this was rather my reaction to those folks in marcom who had the budgets and seemed to have spent most (their) resources on some template or color scheme.

Not only when associated with consumer products rather than enterprise IT infrastructures, brands have an emotional component.

Even if short lived, the MS Office paper clip animated character was aimed to assist while driving emotions--alas, negative. In the enterprise space, we have an end-user component of most software, but it is seldom that the users themselves make the buy-decisions. Such decisions, in case they are still made in our time, belong to people who are several levels away from that end-user component.

Now, a few additional angles for the action & thinking types:
  1. Do the IT infrastructure-providers themselves "put" enough emotion into their products? To begin with, think of the penguin associated with open source (OS) projects! I know, one may object that mere emotion is what fuels a great deal of the OS movement.
  2. Can a regular organization support concepts like "movement," or "emotion as fuel"?
  3. Even if the organization were to foster emotionally driven working environments, will that turn into emotionally charged products?
And, for those who cannot make it to LinkedIn Q&A, here's my choice for the best answer:
There is an old saying that goes something like this: "no one was ever fired for selecting IBM."

In a prior line of work, I represented a company with about 5% market share. We competed with a company that held 50% market share.

We often competed head-to-head for business and the decision was always made by a purchasing group.

Whether we were the better choice or not in any given situation, my company ALWAYS had to battle the perception that the other company was the safe choice.

To use a boxing analogy, we always had to win by knockout; if the fight went the distance, the scorecards always favored the reigning champ.

Fear may not be the angle you are looking to exploit, but it is a very powerful emotion.

Looking at the converse, I remember an old Mac commercial about a corporation measuring employee productivity on Macs versus PCs and the character says: "But that is not fair, people LIKE the Mac."

If a provider was able to co-opt the position of achieving high levels of adoption amongst users, I imagine that emotion would be very powerful for an an enterprise solution.
NOTA BENE: The author of the above answer comes from sales. Obviously, the answer turns the initial idea/concept behind my question upside-down, while still being correct--Yes, negative emotion can be the default emotion in the brand tactics/strategy? of IT infrastructure vendors.

2 comments:

fCh on behalf of Sandra Bavasso Roffo said...

The second best answer came from Sandra Bavasso Roffo:

IMHO there is always an emotional component with any purchase and I believe is basically the same one... (we) want to believe/feel/demonstrate that we... see more have made a "good decision". Now, what a "good decision" is, varies not only in relation to the product (consumer vs. enterprise) but in relation to the price of the product, life expectancy of the product, who else is involved in some way in that decision, end users, etc. And while in some cases I just need to believe that I made a good decision in some other cases I have to be able to demonstrate that I made a good decision. Shampoo: as the POTUS would say, "I am the decider". I know what type of hair I have and what I want to accomplish. But also is a fairly 'cheap' decision (compare to a car, lets say) and in the case I made a mistake I can discard it without feeling so bad or I can alternate it with another one or I can use it everyday to get rid of it. Has short life cycle, if I made a mistake I am not stuck with it for years. And Cindy Crawford even if a basic choice is a choice with reason: beauty is directly related to the product. I buy the product to have my hair healthier or fuller or shiner or... = beautiful. Now, lets move to a more expensive consumer product, a car. If the car is going to be shared with the family you need at least to give some material to that "other" involved. Because even if I am the ultimate "decider" most people would rather have a car that pleases their spouses than one that would raise each time they use it a negative comment. Now, more things get into the equation: is not just about what I look for in a car, I need the car to have some of what (s/he, the other one) looks for. That is why so many car ads try to make the he/she point of view (powerful but comfortable, etc etc) When we arrive to an enterprise products the whole thing is more complex: you may have more than one voice involved, praising or criticizing the purchase and probably more people scrutinizing it. Is inevitable that the appeal to emotion will be more complex. You need to appeal to the emotion of the parts involved to get them to reinforce the decision maker in the feeling that XXXX brand is a "smart choice". Clearly Cindy Crawford is not enough but it doesn't mean that there is not an emotional side. The emotional component in this case Is just more 'disguised' as rational... I can continue writing forever on the subject because it is full of intricacies, but I hope these examples can illustrate more or less how I believe the approach is when it comes to branding and advertising different products.

fCh said...

Have a look at the LinkedIn conversation initiated by Martin van der Linden, CEO and owner van der Architects, round the idea of the ugliness of most workspaces:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/administration/facilities-management/ADM_FAC/177559-118113