Brand Cuts Through Cluttered, Competitive Spaces

Despite a limited budget and a "simple" software, this company was able to find its place in the market. Get the lowdown on this success story and take away some tips. 

For years, we worked with a software company in the HRIS space. Our budgets were microscopic in comparison to the competition. Our software was very limited (we called it “simple”). The site’s content was thin and didn’t offer any unique value. 

Eventually, we were able to convince the company to go all-in with a rebrand. We replaced the organizational name with the primary product (similar to what 37signals did with Basecamp), and started from scratch with brand strategy. 

We knew that we couldn’t compete head to head with the massive organizations and their gigantic budgets. We knew their weaknesses were not always our strengths. We set out to find the ground where we could win. And the search paid off; here’s what happened (and how it happened). 

Your Brand in Two Parts

We have two phases in our strategic brand framework: EGO (internal) and GAPPPS (external: your market opportunity). We’d worked together long enough to have a good sense of EGO. But we had to find a new opportunity in our market if we were going to continue to grow, so we focused on the more external factors. 

Side Note: One of the reasons it was clear acquiring New Unity was a good idea was the tagline Micah Jones (now our VP Brand and Creative) developed, “align and conquer.” If you’re not looking inside and out when evaluating your brand and defining your strategy, you’re not poised to fully realize your opportunity. 

We used a series of workshops across departments in the organization. We leveraged real customer data and intel to ensure those workshops weren’t just lip service. We used those opportunities to really get to know who our audience was at a very deep level. We zeroed in on influencers, decision makers, specific use-cases, and pain points. In short, we engaged in brand strategy. 

Know Thyself (and Thy Opportunity), Then Leverage

We reframed everything about our presentation to focus on the audience, their pain points, and our unique ability to speak to those pains. Thankfully, all the workshops paid off. We had identified specific types of businesses who genuinely would be better off working with our software than the big plug and play shops. And we leaned in hard. 

Identity Design

We needed a new look. We believe in both ‘love’ and ‘science’ over here (surprise!). In other words, we know that people react immediately and emotionally before getting into their rational brains. We also know that if we can get them to take action after their immediate reaction, we don’t have to slog through their analysis mode before we can convince them to take the next step. 

We transitioned (very carefully, responsibly, and backed by tomes of data) from the company name to the chief product name. This helped clarify our offer immediately in the eyes of the consumer and provided a friction free path to a new logo. Based on what we knew about our new target audiences, we carefully chose a suite of colors, fonts, animation style, etc. that would appeal to our buyers. 

Website and Materials Rebuild

Armed with our new, robust brand guide and UI toolkit, we went to work. We reorganized and rewrote content, developed new assets, and used this medium to reposition the brand. 

Review Solicitation and Case Studies

We needed support for this new face. Developing case studies was fast and easy – we had done so much research and client review in the first phase that choosing key accounts and pulling data was relatively painless.

We launched a campaign to extract testimonials and reviews from happy customers and got those online. We leveraged the customer service team to identify clients with specific needs and pain points so we could offer real, legitimate support and social proof to our promises. 

Video Content

HRIS software is complicated. Even buyers can be bogged down by all the detail required to make a purchase. We knew if we could get the potential buyer to reach out, our super strong sales team would do an excellent job closing the deal and walking through the nuances. Our goal then needed to be to provide just enough information (wrapped in excitement and emotion) to get a prospect to request a demo. 

We worked with the team to identify the highlights (with a heavy emphasis on the headache-free integration and very little emphasis on what that integration really looked like) in a colorful, friendly, short animation.

And of course, being who we are, we also made sure we had 6s, 15s, 30s cuts for advertising. 

Campaign Development

We leveraged our new assets and developed value props tuned for rapid resonance. Again, we had the pieces we needed, so we made short work of this effort. 

We leveraged Google Ads, Bing Ads, proprietary systems like Capterra and Business.com and relaunched campaigns. 

Feverish Optimization

An optimizer’s work is never done. We continued to fine-tune and follow the data post launch to optimize advertising, organic, email, review solicitation language, etc. 

Resulting ROAS, Revenue, and Sale

Leads were the key metric we sought to improve. And we didn’t have any more budget to work with. The brand strategy and alignment process provided us with the pieces we needed to get more from the spend. And we got a lot more…

  • ROAS increased by an average of 700%
  • Revenue grew over the next 18 months by 2MM (which was considerable for the size of this org)
  • Conversion Rate increased by 54% essentially over night, and we knew it was working because lead quality (closed leads) increased by 99% – letting us know what those new leads were right in the sweet spot

Within the next two years, the organization sold to one of its largest global competitors. And the founder enjoyed a killer exit thanks to the new trajectory of growth we dug out of this oversaturated market. 

You Can Do It

Brand strategy is common sense. And everyone has the capacity for common sense. What’s more difficult is looking with fresh eyes at your own business and breaking it down into those component parts. Get a professional to help, but don’t let go. Your org, your clients, your data, and your vision can make all the difference between success and a waste of time and money. 

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