Branding in simple words is connecting a name with a product. Companies take various approaches to attain this task. One of the most fascinating approaches is to go for subtle branding. To put it simply, subtle branding is to take on a bigger issue and go after it with your brand in the background. The intent is to identify a purpose and make your brand the driving force behind it which would lead people to associate your brand, consciously or sub-consciously, with that larger-than-product purpose.
Using a creative approach, you can make almost any product to fit the bill. If you are in business of selling bags, broaden the horizon and link it to tourism. If your product is nicotine tablets, make anti-smoking as your purpose. If you are a retail bank, subtle brand it by picking up money management initiative. The basic idea is to expand the canvas. Every product has a purpose…it is there to solve a problem.
A necessary ingredient for this kind of branding effort is persistence. The idea here is to develop trust. You cannot expect people to instantly link a brand to a purpose. Like in any other case, building that trust requires time and a continuous effort.
What’s the most important thing to keep in mind while doing subtle branding? It’s the authenticity. If you are associating your brand with a purpose, make sure you put the purpose before your product. Faking purpose-driven branding is not possible in the long run. Your customers are too smart to identify the fake and such attempts can lead to a permanent dent in the brand image. An authentic subtle branding has a strong impact in developing your brand image, and above all, it will help you as an organization fill in for your social responsibility.
Any organization goes for a software solution in one of three ways: build it in-house, buy from a vendor or use Software-as-a-Service from an expert service provider. Here’s an analysis of each one of these options:
- Build it in-house: If you are in business of software development, this is the route you should choose. When you are building a software in-house, you will need to develop, maintain and upgrade software as required. If you are not in the business of software development, why create a back office to build this software solution? Software applications are continuously evolving. Technology gets better every year. So if you go for the in-house option, you will have to carry additional overhead of maintaining and upgrading the software throughout its lifetime.
Now let’s talk about the hardware side. If you decide to build the software in-house, you will have to go through the IT hurdles to get it hosted and maintained in-house. The Moore’s law of computing (which states that the processing power of hardware will double every 18 months) is still true and is expected to be true at least in the visible future. So if you choose to go for the in-house option, you will have to mess with IT department for upgrading the hardware every other year in order to keep your system up-to-date and state-of-the-art.
- Buy from a vendor: If you buy from a vendor you successfully avoid creating a back office for developing the software, but what about maintenance and upgrades? You can manage maintenance by giving contract to the vendor who built the software for you. As for upgrades, you will require an in-house experts to know when to get upgrades and whom to court to do that. Along with this, dealing with the vendors can be an expensive and distractive process. Even further, the issues of data security and persistence, bandwidth and performance still exists.
As far as the hardware end is concerned, all the problems that are in building it in-house persists in this option as well.
- Software-as-a-Service: If you go for Software-as-a-Service, you are off-loading your software and hardware problems to an expert service provider. In other words, the back office that you might have otherwise created is replaced by the front office of this service provider. So what are you left with here? That’s your core competencies, your front office. With the software and hardware hurdles out of the way, you can completely focus on your core competencies.
SaaS is the only option where you can completely concentrate on your core competencies. So for software solutions, go SaaS!