SaaS is booming. In 2022, the SaaS industry had a market size of $186.6 billion. By 2030, it’s projected to grow to $700 billion. (Source)
I’m no economist, but that’s a lot of tech products, a lot of brands, and a lot of competition. So how do you make sure your brand doesn’t suck?
It’s easy to think that building a great brand equates to generating leads and therefore demand. More traffic and more sign-ups = more successful brand, right?
But these metrics, while important, are short-sighted when it comes to establishing a place in the hearts and minds of consumers.
To achieve long-term success, the biggest players, not just in SaaS, make the critical distinction between their brand and their product.
Think of it this way:
- Your product creates value in functional ways based on the use case it was made for, whether it’s streamlining tasks, organising calendars, or booking a restaurant.
- Your brand creates value in emotional ways based on how distinctive and memorable it is. It might evoke feelings of freedom, excitement, or wanderlust.
Jason Lemkin, CEO of SaaStr, put the importance of brand like this:
“Is Hubspot the best CRM for SMBs? You know what? It doesn’t matter. It truly does not matter for 80% of customers.”
In other words:
Your product can be fundamentally better than the competition. But if your competitors build a more compelling brand, it doesn’t matter. People will choose the one that feels the most trustworthy.
The key word there is feels. Successful brands create a feeling, an emotional relationship with their customers.
This can only happen when you apply brand thinking to your product.
In my mind, three key components need to work in harmony if you want to emulate HubSpot.
- Are people aware that the problem you solve is even worth solving? In other words, If you spend time and money saying you fix a problem that doesn’t even exist in the minds of your audience, how can you expect them to respond to it?
- Are people familiar with the category of products that you are part of? If yes, make sure you’re using the language people already use and understand. If you’re defining a new category, how will you educate people and invite them in?
- Are people familiar with our product and its use cases? This is how you describe your product on a practical level, its unique features, and the benefits they offer.
Many B2Bs fixate on the tiny group of people that are in the market, actively looking for a solution. Brand marketing is how you hit the 95% of buyers who are out of the market – not looking for a solution.
By considering the three stages of awareness, you can identify gaps in knowledge and perception at each level – and tailor your brand-building and marketing efforts accordingly.
What about the logo?
Your visual identity is the last piece of the puzzle. This is your opportunity to cement your strategy in something tangible – the things people think of when you say ‘brand’.
Stand out visually by going against the grain.
Show up in the same way time and time again.
Appeal to an emotion
Memory leans more towards emotion than logic.
Have a strong POV
You should have a clear, unique point of view. For years, Hubspot communicated the idea that inbound marketing is where brands grow, and outbound tactics are negative and dated. True or not, this narrative helped them gain status.
Put simply; there is no secret sauce to building a successful SaaS brand.
Like any brand, being distinctive and memorable boils down to building fame, knowing your audience, and reaching them consistently. This is how you become the default choice.