How to Build a B2B Technology Brand That Resonates with the C-suite
Four tips for connecting with this critical audience in cybersecurity
SailPoint, a worldwide industry leader in identity and access management, had succeeded in winning over technical buyers with its superior products. But it struggled to connect with the C-suite and business executives who were becoming increasingly involved in security and IT purchase decisions— and who did not prioritize identity management as a critical IT need. SailPoint needed a brand that would illuminate the importance of identity management and resonate with this critical audience.
Through our research we uncovered four important insights that helped us build a brand that resonated not only with technical users but also with these non-technical stakeholders.
1. Simplify the complex
As a product-focused company, SailPoint’s tendency in branding and messaging had been to lead with the full extent of its features, functionality and processes. While it was important to demonstrate to sophisticated tech buyers that SailPoint’s solutions could handle their nuanced and complicated needs, this message gave competitors ammunition to use against SailPoint — its products were often labeled as complex and cumbersome. This messaging also did not appeal to business users and C-suite executives, for whom detailed product specs were not persuasive.
Employees who participated in our branding workshops agreed that a simpler message was needed. During our “perceptual mapping” exercise, we uncovered a consensus around a desire to shift the external perception of the company from being a “messy cocktail” with lots of ingredients, to a “straightforward martini” with a clear, straightforward value proposition.
It was clear that, from a top level messaging standpoint, SailPoint needed to move away from technical speak and simplify its message for the C-suite without losing credibility with technical buyers. The conversation shouldn’t be about whether SailPoint was simple or complex. Instead, with its flexible product suite, it could shift the conversation to having the right identity solution, no matter the buyer’s needs.
2. Move beyond the “what”
The majority of SailPoint’s product-focused competitors were defining their brands around their offerings—identity and access management solutions. We saw this as an opportunity for SailPoint to stand out by telling a deeper story that would resonate with business buyers. The brand could become more aspirational, moving beyond simply stating what it offers and instead focusing on what its offerings enable clients to achieve.
This notion led to an array of messaging that shifted the story from one about certifying access, to one about the way this certified access fortifies workforces. From centralizing identity management control, to the global expansion this centralized control can afford. From a strong identity platform, to the ideas that a strong platform can generate. From meeting regulatory requirements, to securing revolutionary experiences. This messaging started to bring the business benefits of identity management to life in a relatable way for those non-technical individuals involved in the buying process. Details on features and functionality remained important, but came through in supporting messages and didn’t need to define the brand.
3. Ditch the fear
Visit any security or access management tradeshow at the time and you would have felt like you were entering a warzone. Messages and imagery centered on attacks, infiltrations, and preparing for battle saturated the marketplace.
“There are literally hundreds of security vendors all saying ‘You’ve got to have my stuff or you’re screwed’. Customers can’t separate the signal from the noise.” – Internal stakeholder interview
Due to a proliferation of cyberattacks and extensive media coverage of these attacks, most security professionals had accepted that security breaches were a matter of “when,” not “if.” But this didn’t make them afraid. Instead, it made them want an identity management partner who understood the threats but who could also bring the full potential of identity management to bear for the success of their organization.
The opportunity for SailPoint was to shift the conversation from fear and uncertainty to one of empowerment – going from “do this or you will be breached,” to “do this and you will succeed.” Emphasizing the opportunities that come from a robust and powerful approach to identity management, and the business enablement this can empower, were messages that would resonate with technical buyers and the C-suite alike.
4. Embrace the power
This research revealed that, by influencing how companies approach identity management overall, SailPoint was transforming the way these companies do business. SailPoint serves as the fabric that secures connections and allows enterprises to take advantage of major opportunities.
We ultimately landed on the brand idea of “The Power of Identity,” because SailPoint is about leveraging the power of identity and access management within organizations. It’s the power to drive businesses forward with identity management. The power to increase efficiencies and meet KPIs. The power to achieve business goals including corporate agility and operational efficiency. The power to accelerate business performance, mitigate risk, reduce IT costs and ensure compliance.
It’s the type of power that resonates with technology buyers, but also with those C-suite and business executives SailPoint most needed to reach.
They are the holy grail of B2B marketing: C-suite executives who open the doors, make the decisions and write the checks. And they are increasingly difficult to reach through conventional marketing channels. The key to getting inside is providing executives with something they need but can’t get elsewhere: relevant content.
As strategists and designers, we are always curious about the use of color in culture and business. Recently, we took a look at brand colors in the top 100 technology firms. While the range of colors and combinations is varied, we noted a few intriguing themes.
For tech company colors, blue is always true
A competitive review is an important part of any brand strategy initiative. It helps answer questions critical to a successful branding effort: How are competitors positioning themselves? What are the messages that consistently rise to the top? What is the white space that can be “owned” by a brand?
When we conducted external interviews as part of our work developing the Zelis Healthcare brand, one thing became clear: the healthcare payer and healthcare provider clients who worked with Zelis were obsessed. Not with the healthcare payments technology that got doctors and other providers paid more quickly. Not with the healthcare-claims integrity services that…