Launch Your LMS With A Touch Of SaaS (And A Hint Of Ed Sheeran)

SaaS Branding Tips With A Hint Of Ed Sheeran
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Summary: Let's embark on a quest to uncover the winning strategies of SaaS companies from beyond the education sector. Buckle up and get ready to take your platform to the next level.

5 Successful SaaS-Powered Marketing Tips: The Winner Takes It All

Masterclasses, Brain Busters, Gold Medal Mindsets, boot camps —eLearning has become a high-stakes showdown. But what if your corporate eLearning platform has developed stage fright and is stuck waiting in the wings? What can leading SaaS companies in other sectors teach eLearning organizations about amping up their style — getting noticed, remembered, and considered for the lead role? Just when you thought your dreaded singledom days were finally over, huh? So you're currently a nerd, in a sea of other nerds. Here we go again, pick me, pick me!

Just Another Face In The Crowd

All LMS providers promise solutions to a client's every learning need, via sleek, easy-to-navigate interfaces with 24/7 support. It's the equivalent of the guys whose mom allowed them to dye their hair in sixth grade and whose grandma bought them the latest iPhone for Christmas. They're now on the radar.

Full range of competencies covered? Yep. Pathway options, gamification, personalized recommendations, employees with half a brain? Of course (well, OK, no promises on the final one). And they have the gift of the gab. Bad boy charmers. So how do you, an LMS provider, let potential buyers know you're a rock star in the making? That you offer the missing X-factor to help catapult your clients onto the center stage? Want to become hot property with a waiting list desiring your attention?

Let's get ready to rock...

1. You Are Always On My Mind

Building a strong, impactful brand should not only get businesses noticed but also remembered. There are thousands of SaaS brands, so why is it that only a handful immediately spring to mind? Beautifully crafted, cleverly designed logos consisting of a series of (invariably blue) minimalist lines and other assorted squiggles are great but can do little to distinguish your brand from every other B2B brand out there. Ditch your school uniform (well OK, customize it then).

Our unconscious minds are becoming increasingly good at cutting through media clutter (banner blindness) and focusing only on what we're interested in or whatever catches our attention. Remember, you're still just a nerd. Your mom and grandma and all your buddies know how amazing you are. But, for her, you don't exist. Yet.

The SaaS solution? Be bold, be daring, be unforgettable — loosen the tight B2B corset, and let your brand power exhale. Throw your blazer off and show off your to-be-honed-at-some-point (after-A-Levels) physique.

  • Start by considering SaaS brand logos that spring to mind.
  • Try to replicate what well-recognized brands, such as Slack, Datadog, or Hubspot, are doing differently from their competitors (hint, vibrant "unexpected" colors, graphical multicolor emblems or symbols, cleanly contoured logotypes, etc.)

Shout, shout, let it all out!

Didn't work? We've all been there buddy, don't despair, let's give this a little more thought.

2. Can't Take My Eyes Off You

Successful SaaS platforms share common logo elements to gain attention and strike a chord with users — color, simplicity, and imagery. Brand mascots (cheeky chimps are popular) not only humanize a brand but, through word association, allow users to attach unique attributes to an organization. These help to retain it in their long-term memories.

You're in a classroom, I know. Teachers have a way of suppressing your fun side. But a smile, a joke in her direction now and again should be possible. Even being goofy can show aspects of who you really are.

Heck, Salesforce has a whole cast of characters representing a wide range of positive company values. Mascots help buyers build an emotional bond and enable them to correctly identify your brand. Like personalities, mascots can also develop over time acquiring favorable attributes along the way. Visual imagery is even more eye-catching when bright or contrasting colors are used (Hubspot's orange/grey and Mailchimp's cavendish yellow/black combinations spring to mind).

Easily-remembered brand names tend to be concise, with one or two syllables—Slack, Zoom, Teem, Salesforce, Mailchimp, SurveyMonkey, Hootsuite, etc. (SurveyMonkey only counts as two syllables because it rhymes). Your mom and grandma insist on calling you by your full name (Thomas William). But thankfully your buddies have always referred to you as Tom or Will. So you're on the right track here. At least she'll not have to wrack her brain for your name.

  • An appealing LMS needs to consider its color palette and what the use of color conveys about the brand. Will you dare to move away from the blue? Can your brand be easily recalled?
  • Does your brand name have a literal (or conceptual) association with an object, animal, avatar, or cartoon character that helps to provide a visual reminder for potential customers?

So you want to avoid a school suspension for your rainbow-hued hair or the discreet tattoo depicting something or someone dear to your heart?

Dynamic visuals can be incorporated, including a mascot, across all learner touchpoints. (The obvious eLearning symbols such as spectacles or graduation caps have already been claimed, get creative!). Mascots can appear on landing pages, within customer communications, and—well why not—within virtual classrooms! Characters can become communicators. How about designing cool, avatar virtual instructors? Perhaps unique characters and looks for different courses to appeal to targeted segments. Or, thematic interpretations to ensure consistency across a range of touchpoints, thereby harmonizing the brand message.

3. Let's Move It, Move It

Movement is another primary way to catch viewers' attention; therefore, it is no surprise that many company mascots and logos are animated (and flirtatiously wink at us). Think Hootsuite's owl GIFs or Mailchimps "Freddie" icon. We instinctively observe and connect with faces, yes even non-human ones. I know, but, c'mon if AI girlfriends are now a thing…right?

  • Go beyond animation into cartoon explainer videos, webinars, and social media clips. Who can fail to notice the newest kid on the block, "breakout clips", where images and video seemingly pop out of the screen towards the viewer? These can help express positive brand personality characteristics (e.g. fun, innovative, quirky, etc.)
  • Consider if your logo or content can be animated in any way. How can you stop the scroll? Simplistic, clean fonts contrast well with cartoon/avatar elements.

Time to dance like everybody's watching!

So your club dance moves leave a lot to be desired and are probably best confined to your home. You've tried to mimic the Bad Boy swagger and your buddy asked you if you had a problem. But you can still wink when she walks past, right?

4. Talk To Me (Like Lovers Do…?)

Branding is about more than just a logo or visual identity; it should provide an indication of brand personality. Cultivating a unique brand voice through copywriting is one way to hit all the right notes with potential customers. Leading SaaS brands have adopted a concise, user-centric, optimistic, and goal-oriented tone. They emphasize solutions in a language that harmonizes with customers' own use of vocabulary.

Offer to help her with subjects she's having difficulty with. Remind her you got top grades. Finally, you've got one up on the Bad Boys. Hallelujah!

A casual, informal approach denotes a positive and friendly personality.  The central goal is crystal clear on Pipedrive's landing page (which boldly states "the CRM platform to grow your business" in easily legible text). No lengthy explanations are required, get straight to the point. A reassuring copywriting tone, fun cartoon imagery, and Barbie-style hot pink CTAs make Drip seem lively and approachable.

An impactful brand voice not only reflects corporate personality but is also appropriate for the audience segment targeted, ensuring users eventually become fans. The trend is towards jargon-free, straightforward language with a supportive tone (think more Ed Sheeran than Eminem).

  • What does your platform's visual content (text and imagery) tell your customers about your product and service?
  • Your organization might come across as capable and knowledgeable but is it also helpful and approachable?

You're a tech geek but you don't want to scare her off. Find out the areas she is struggling in and try to reassure her that those are your favorite topics and you would be delighted to help her out.

Oh, wait, her STEM grades were higher than yours last term. Now what?

  • If a new learner is apprehensive about taking an online course, would they feel comfortable reaching out for help based on your existing copywriting style?
  • Does your copy reassure learners that your modules can build on their existing knowledge?
  • If appealing to younger age groups, could a fun, witty, slightly irreverent Timon-in-Lion-King tone be adopted?

Speak her language, make her smile. Who cares if she's laughing at you or with you, it's a connection you're after at this point.

5. Sound And Vision

Audio (or sonic branding), traditionally associated with B2C, is becoming increasingly important in B2B contexts (tune in to those introductory or concluding notes on audio eBooks, podcasts, webinars, social media clips, etc.). Auditory stimuli are strongly related to memory, so proprietary sounds can trigger associations with certain products or brands. We are all familiar with B2C jingles (e.g. McDonald's "Lovin' it") through their simplicity, repetition, and because they strike an emotional chord.

  • Can your eLearning platform create unique, consistent sounds across a series of touchpoints (paired with a visual, animated logo or mascot)? Ideally, your brand's essence could encapsulate primary aspects of its values and attributes in a few notes.

Unless you happen to be musically talented and can impress her with a stunning Ed Sheeran rendition, maybe stick to personalized ringtones that have some significance for you.

  • Consider an appropriate auditory theme—inspiration, happiness, achievement, fun, ambition, relaxation, etc. The list is as endless as the portfolio of courses you provide.

Time to pump up the volume!

Much More Than This

Your pitch-perfect, suitably embellished corporate eLearning platform is now lurking backstage but what else can you do to be in the limelight? She now knows you exist but still (secretly) thinks you're a dork! But you're confident that once she gets to know and trust you more, she is going to plainly see that you are not like all the rest.

In part 2 of this series, we will consider how leading SaaS organizations top the charts by increasing visibility and building authority. Part 3 will highlight ways to differentiate a corporate eLearning brand from those of competitors, based on successful SaaS strategies.

Does she pick you in the end? Will you be stealing the show? You’ll have to wait and see…