FlipMyFunnel Post

How Drift Uses Branding and Category Design to Drive Growth

The times, they are a-changin’.

In the old days, you might have gotten away with promoting the best feature of your product, making a transaction, and sending the customer on their merry way.

Try that today and you’ll go out of business.

Why don’t consumers care as much about the product as they used to?

FMF guest-host John Rougeux asks CEO of Drift and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business, David Cancel, what he thinks about the current SaaS market disruption. This #TakeoverTuesday explores effective branding.

We mean really effective branding.

Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • The current SaaS marketing landscape
  • Why great branding is crucial
  • How to achieve great branding

This post is based on a podcast with David Cancel and John Rougeux. You can listen to the full episode here and below.

The new world of SaaS marketing

When software as a service was still somewhat of a novelty, the seller held all of the information.

The company possessed all of the power to dictate the sales process because there were few – if any – alternatives for the consumer. This scene dominated all SaaS industries, not just B2B.

Nowadays, the prospect holds the ultimate choice. Information is free and widespread, making it possible for consumers to shop around. There are numerous alternatives for B2B software and niches continue to develop.

The new landscape seems great, right?

Unfortunately, there is an astonishing amount of B2B companies still living in what David calls the “Ford era.”

To David, it seems like 99% of SaaS companies are still using their old marketing tactics. Each organization is acting like they alone control the market still. It’s simply not realistic.

Many of these B2B companies see that their processes are waning, but they’re still kind of working.

Yet, David sees a massive disruption developing in the B2B world. The old ways are on their way out.

Why you need great branding

David and the founding team at Drift literally built the enterprise on the foundation of exceptional branding.

What’s more, they did this when great branding was scoffed at. The old way of SaaS marketing was still hanging on. Why change what was working?

Drift’s path to extraordinary branding is rooted in:

  • Necessity. When Drift was in its infancy, they searched for the best marketing agency to help mold their brand. To their dismay, no agency met the storytelling standards the team required. Subsequently, they opted for building their brand 100% internally.
  • Intuition. As a young man, David was infatuated with human behavior and psychology. He studied how people’s decision-making related to their personality types. David found that words bridged the consumer to the purchase.

Because Drift was forging its own category in the market, the team used metaphors and stories to demonstrate what their software provides. This led prospects to focus on the outcome, not the features. 

They didn’t care what the features were.

Ultimately, they didn’t care what the product was.

They cared about the outcome Drift could give them. And this was communicated through the stories and metaphors David and the team used. The storytelling was what made Drift’s category creation successful.

Your branding is what will lead prospects to realize what your product helps them achieve. If you’re carving out a new category in the market, storytelling will be especially effective in your branding strategy.

How to achieve great branding

David emphasizes three concepts that help him and the team at Drift continually achieve extraordinary branding.

  1. Observe human behavior.

By taking special notice in how people make decisions, you’ll start to better understand how they view your product and brand. 

Different people have different decision-making tendencies. The majority of these tendencies are rooted in personality and past experiences. Researching personality types can prove to be helpful in gaining insight into consumer buying habits.

  1. Reverse-engineer marketing materials.

The next time you notice an advertisement or another piece of branding, try to understand why it works. David recognizes that many marketers see when an advertisement works, but not necessarily why it does.

Having a deeper understanding of why some marketing materials work and why others don’t will help you achieve more effective branding.

  1. Focus on telling the story.

To produce great branding like Drift, telling a story is crucial.

The story of what your product helps to achieve should be woven throughout your entire organization. Don’t focus on the features or even the software itself. Pinpoint the outcome.

If you’re attempting to create a new category, be prepared to use metaphors and storytelling to help prospects understand what they’re missing without your product.

It doesn’t matter what your product is

David stresses that it doesn’t matter what your product is. It matters what it helps to achieve. You can communicate the outcome through great branding.

Don’t get stuck on discussing features or even software. The new landscape of SaaS marketing calls you to create a narrative that customers can see themselves in. This narrative should be interwoven into everything your company does.

Whichever category you’re entering or creating, the product is only the means to a greater end.

Make sure that’s something people care about.