How your product brand strategy shapes your overall brand reputation
In enterprise B2B tech companies, it’s expected for product teams to singularly focus on the success of their specific offering or solution.
They’re responsible for the revenue the product creates. They’re subject matter experts who know the technology best. They own the product’s story and messaging, as expressed in white papers, demos, and sales sheets.
That product is their baby.
Having product experts at the helm of your offerings is an amazing—and necessary—thing. They evangelize the technology, educate your community, and help you deliver the best customer and user experience possible.
But here’s the inevitable truth all growing tech companies must face.
The more products you have, the more wrangling you’ll need to do to keep them tidy. We recently wrote about the challenge of scale when it comes to messaging—the same applies to your product experience.
We’ve seen it countless times. As product portfolios grow and offerings expand, once-simple product architectures—with clear naming conventions, consistent messaging frameworks, and parallel content structures—easily turn into messes of mish-mashed names, wordy descriptions, and overly technical features and functions.
Without oversight or enforced standards, product brands can sprawl. Particularly when use cases cross verticals, geographies, or functional areas. Soon each product starts to feel like its own mini “brand.” Taking on its own visual and verbal identity. Siloed from the parent brand.
We’re not advocating for a world where the creativity of product teams gets stifled by the “brand police.”
We simply know the most effective product names, messages, and visual systems result from teams working together through open collaboration. A combination of strategy + guidance (from the brand team who knows the organization’s story best) and passion + subject matter expertise (from the specialists who know the products best).
We’ve helped enterprise B2B tech companies navigate the sometimes-challenging relationship between their company and product brands.
Here are a few things we’ve learned along the way—and a few reasons why it’s so important for your product and brand strategies to play nicely with each other.
1. Unified products create a better customer experience
Disjointed product and brand architectures undermine your company’s position as a leader. This lack of cohesion suggests your products aren’t as refined as they could be. It sends a message—willingly or not—that your products operate independently, not bound by a unifying experience.
In an age where every touchpoint is an opportunity to convert prospects into customers, it’s valuable to position your products as part of a greater whole. A holistic system, solution, or platform your customers can buy into.
Even when selling individual SKUs, a platform approach makes it easy for customers to discover the other products or services you offer. And continuity across all of your products makes future upsells that much easier.
Visually, when the UX / UI varies greatly across your product lineup, it creates jarring experiences for your customers. And early in the sales cycle, this can lead to confusion—causing prospects to skip out before they ever convert.
Consistency in your product names can also play a major role in helping your customers understand not only what each product does, but also the value it delivers. Following a systematic naming convention helps customers and prospects navigate your website, sales materials, and ultimately—your user platform or portal. A few brands who do this really well are Zendesk, ServiceNow, and Google.
Consistency in your brand voice is also crucial to earning customer loyalty. In most cases, customers don’t differentiate between your brand and its products. So even if a customer only uses one product from your full suite, they are likely to tell their peers that they use <your company name>. For example, you’re less likely to hear someone say “I use Service Cloud to track my sales.” Instead, they’d probably say “I use Salesforce.” The bottom-line: whatever experience your customers have with one product will most likely influence their overall perception of who you are as an organization.
2. Cohesion across your products makes you look like an expert
Aligning your product messaging and visual strategy to your brand messaging and visual strategy not only improves how your customers interact with your brand. It also improves the products themselves.
It helps ensure that every release, marketing asset, and campaign message is in line with your company’s positioning and purpose. And when your products feel like they’re part of a broader story—the story of your organization and the outcomes it’s helping to create—it becomes easier to see each product (and team of people behind it) as an essential part of the whole.
Creating a brand strategy in which your products play an integral role in your selling power also ups the ante for your product teams. It forces them to step back and see the bigger picture. If all goes well, it strengthens your brand and its reputation as a leader. And it shows the world that you’re a group of strategic thinkers who really have their sh*t together.
When your customers, partners, employees (and even your competitors) see that you’re thinking at this high level—not just focusing on the individual SKUs or products you’re trying to sell, but seeing them as part of a full system—their perception shifts. They start to see you not only as a vendor, but as an expert practitioner. You’re no longer the person they call on to solve a small problem in one small part of their business. You become the partner they work with when they’re facing a big challenge that requires a multi-faceted solution.
Not only does this holistic approach bode well for your bottom line (selling a full solution usually means more money in your pocket), it can also increase morale inside your organization. Breaking down silos or tension, creating a culture where your brand team isn’t at odds with your product teams. Working not only as individual entities, but as part of a larger whole.
3. A clear product architecture today creates a clear path for growth tomorrow
A clear understanding of how your products work together now directly impacts how and where you’ll be able to evolve in the future.
Particularly in high-growth technology companies—where acquisitions, mergers, and scale are the name of the game—staying focused on the problems you’re helping your customers solve is crucial. It’s a powerful grounding force in times of rapid change. Ensuring you don’t dilute your positioning or stray from your purpose.
Verbally, a consistent and clear naming system for your products, offerings, and solutions makes expansion simple. When you know the parameters your new product name must fit into, your paths for exploration are already laid out before for you. AKA no random Wikipedia brainstorm black holes. And no glazed-over-deer-in-the-headlights-oh-my-god-where-do-I-even-start moments of panic.
As your product suite grows, enforcing this consistency further strengthens your positioning and your message. It creates a clear trajectory for customers who may be looking to you to solve even more of their most pressing business challenges.
New names that fit into an existing structure—one your customers are already familiar with—make adoption easier. And consistency in your naming strategy makes it easy for your customers to see how any new products or offerings work alongside those they’re already using.
Visually, consistency and cohesiveness across all your products make any new offerings feel like a natural extension of existing solutions. It makes absorbing existing brands or products simpler, because you already know the visual criteria they need to meet to fit within your brand ecosystem.
The same is true for your customers’ experience of those products. Continuity across the UX / UI of your existing and new products helps with onboarding. And it ensures that your customers will see your new products as welcome extensions of the services they already love.
We believe the strongest organizations are created when product and brand teams work collaboratively. As your company expands, evolves, and shifts, keeping your product messaging and visual strategy aligned with your brand’s overarching strategy can help ensure your customers (and employees) feel like their experiences are part of your story.
Need help getting your product brands in order? Navigating a recent merger or acquisition and looking for guidance to bring them together? Give us a shout. We’d love to chat.