On the Internet, your process is your brand. Have a good process, and people will keep coming back to buy, read, interact. Have a bad process, and you need to re-think your business or communications goals. Amazon, eBay, GE, iTunes, The New York Times, Google, epicurious.com, all have time-proven advantages over their competitors.
But one of the primary keys to a finely calibrated brand is consistency of message.
Having a good site but inconsistent messaging in other mediums can fracture the long term bond between brand and customer. It’s trust and repetition of delivery-on-expectation that help one brand edge out another of similar ilk at the point of decision making.
Salesforce.com gets “it.” And specifically through its print advertising program.
Simply stated, what it gets is the real understanding of its true value proposition, and the ability to maintain unwavering consistency—of design, of message, of strategic focus.
Since they launched in 2000, they have kept the exact same look, feel, tone and manner throughout all of their efforts, without becoming stale. White background, clever yet simple graphic in the center of the page, bold header that states exactly what they want you to remember, and crisp, short copy. And the icing on the cake, their “software with a red circle and line through it” icon.
Too often, in every industry, companies change their brand identity simply for the sake of change. While we all know that agencies and clients get tired of the same old thing after a few years (and in many cases, only a few months), too often forgotten is that it’s not what they want that matters, it is what the current and potential customer wants that matters.
And customers want consistency of brand, not schizophrenic, temporal campaigns that send multiple messages that muddy up their brand image of a company. Maslowe’s hierarchy of needs puts survival at the top of the list, and inconsistency does not breed safety and security.
Think of Subway. Customers like and appreciate Jared....and he sells, which is the name of the game. But every couple of years, Subway changes agencies and the creative takes a different turn, then sales go down and Jared inevitably comes back. Customers want the consistency of Jared's persona and message and feel less comfortable with eating at Subway when he's gone. He's become a friend of sorts, but someone the customer can relate to and feel safe associating with. (Personally, I think they should find a team of Jareds and extend the campaign to different audiences, but that is a whole other topic.)
Salesforce.com has intelligently, and compellingly, stayed true to its strategic premise that software-as-a-service is easy to understand, easy to use, and is very powerful. The ad program (after 7 years, it’s not a campaign, it’s a brand communications program) is extremely effective in its ability to satisfy on multiple levels, and has obviously produced extraordinary results, because over 40,000 companies – not users, but companies – have signed on and are using their software.
I am obviously a big fan. Case in point: I just recommended it to my sales group because I know what to expect.