Your self help guide to rebranding a startup. Made possible by the brand team at Box.
Infusing B2B with Emotion
Is there a place for emotion in business?
Most business people will tell you 'Never let emotion to get in the way." Yet it's strange how many deals get done after an emotional pitch. Jim Herjovik on Shark Tank sheds tears whenever he hears a story about an immigrant struggle.
When handled properly, emotion can make the jump to making a B2B pitch actionable.
Make the subject the hero
The first instinct in B2B is to bring up your product almost immediately. But is that how you open a conversation with a stranger? Wouldn't they want to hear a story about a successful project or an interesting anecdote? It's easier to hold the viewers attention when you start with a good story and then talk about how the product enabled it in some way.
The subject of the Dam Keeper project—a short animation side project between animators at Pixar—was about personal passion between animators. They wanted to tell the story of friendship between a pig who was bullied at school and a fox, the new popular kid. A story of triumph over adversity.
The analogy here was the two directors also had to fight the odds against tiny budgets, a full time day job and the challenges of working with 85 film makers and animators from all over the world.
Box made it possible.
Make inspiration your goal
The inspiration here was that if other film makers had a project they wanted to do, then they should go make it. Here's proof that It's possible, it's doable. With a product like Box the speed at which you execute is fast.
Extend the conversation
The product doesn't have to be all in the video. We worked with the Dam Keeper team to give out some out some the assets on Box. A campaign on Facebook for giving away high rez wallpapers and a character tagging game. Other ideas were to set up a Box film fund to inspire other film makers to work on their side projects.
Once the audience is emotionally invested in the story, there's always room for extensions.
The effort led to more visibility for Box in the Media and Entertainment space.
And winning the Pixar account.
Collaborators: Box Brand Team, Box Media and Entertainment. Pixar Studios, KesslesKramer Los Angeles
Damkeeper making of video
Two directors from pixars inspire legions of animators to go out and try their own thing
The power of the product demo
When it's time to do a product demo, the first thought is, "Here's an opportunity to show off all our product features."
Stop right there.
Your product can stand for something.
Before you jump to features, start with the WHY. In the case of Box Notes, a notes app for the businesses, the insight was that a lot of ideas that come up at work are lost. They're never jotted down. They're scribbled on a board. Erased. Suddenly there's this waste of intellect from people your business is paying good money for.
Never let the best ideas get away
The mission for Box Notes was to capture those ideas in real time with the rest of your team. If you were on the beach, you shouldn't have to dig up your laptop or find an internet connection, you could edit an idea document or a speech on your phone or any mobile device. That's how everyone will work five years from now. This insight from CEO Aaron Levie gave Notes a strong reason to exist and gave the product development team a path to build features for the foreseeable future.
Once your product stands for something, it's more likely to inspire your audience, your employees, existing customers and heck, even tech reporters to embed it in their blogs. The Notes video was featured in TechCrunch, Mashable, NYT Tech, Venture Beat, and many other business publications thanks to the efforts of product marketing and PR teams.
Farhad Manjoo of WSJ called it one of the best product demos he's seen all year. And he sees a lot of these.
Most enterprise companies fail to realize the difference in brand equity a simple insight can make.
Setting up a conference is like a wedding, except instead of 100 guests you have 3000 attendees who have paid $600 to attend. They'll be very vocal if they're disappointed.
The events team at Box does a fantastic job of planning the event. So imagine the impact with the right branding.
Here's what's working in your favor at events. You have a captive audience. They have plenty of down time to mull about between keynotes and breakout sessions. It's time to indulge them a little.
Set up a strong theme
The theme for Boxworks was there's to possible. We could say it because we could back it up with case studies around how different industries were changing their approach to work and speeding up productivity by using the product.
Make it interactive
One of the ways the theme was brought to life was with an interactive device wall where people could create an infinite combination of animations on 100 devices. People have a thing for interactivity. That's just how we are wired. Museums are falling behind because they are failing to capitalize on that.
Go beyond the Wallpaper
Every wall space or floor space is an opportunity to introduce attendees to a new thought. A new idea about your business. For Boxworks we covered every pillar and even the tiles at the lobby of the Hilton. Don't miss that opportunity to drive home your message.
Give people things they can share
The entire content for Boxworks was distributed on Box. What a no-brainer. But they are also given snackables like clips from the keynotes and short blurbs they could share on their twitter feed. Prior to the conference, we had a Q&A called "What if?" that focused on questions around possibilities in business. The best answers we given Box Bucks (better than Bitcoins) to buy shwag at Boxworks.
Create the conditions for networking
The mobile app also had features where people could connect and network based on their industry (which was registered while signing up). That way attendees could find like minded people easily.
Collaborators: Box Marketing, Star Events
Breaking the Laws of Business Writing
Pick any company brand guideline and go to the section that talks about voice. 100% of the time, it will include a sentence like "don't use cliches or jargon."
100% of the time, that rule will be broken.
No one ever enforces it. Or takes it seriously. So we hear words like 'cross-siloed' and 'value added' repeated all the time. They give people a license to be non-committal and ambiguous. It was time to create Jargonil, an app that replaced jargon with natural language.
There's a business reason to write like human.
Higher return on messaging
People respond better to natural language, which means the message will be more impactful. This means more returns on investment. We did A/B testing on banner ads and found this to be true. It puts a check on jargon creep and forces people to find more inventive language.
Forces new thinking
It gives the freedom to coin new terms which others will adopt and may hopefully become industry jargon in the future.
Complements good design
Recently, there's been a huge emphasis on design. Even design challenged companies like Paypal are making some good headway in decent design. The next wave will be about rethinking the writing. The combination of good design and writing is powerful.
Collaborators: Brand team, Writers at Box, Halley Youn
A corporate new year message rewritten with Jargonil
Creating Predatory Brand Awareness
There are two ways to make your brand visible. Spend money and buy all the media. Or find a few high impact areas where people can spread your message. Guess what approach is more surprising?
Without Walls Campaign, Atlanta
At the Atlanta airport atrium, we built a wall of 100 mobile devices. They told the Box story of going from idea to the final product. Bees represented workers. People could move the bees around with their fingers and make patterns between devices. Here's a heat map of clicks. Over one million.
Charm, Don't Stalk
You can annoy everyone with a message they clearly don't to hear. Or you can personalize it. Mobile trucks were stationed near different companies that the sales team was targeting. Coke has it's headquarters in Atlanta. So does Home Depot. And Cox. These trucks staked them out in a nice way. The CIO of Home Depot saw the truck circling around the company and decided to call the sales team for a 30 min meeting. Mission accomplished.
Play with some B2B humor
The great thing about billboards in some of the smaller cities is that they are cheap. The idea was to take a bulk and make some noise.
The campaign ran for a month in Atlanta. Results from the brand survey showed awareness grew by 92%. These are the kinds of stories that make interesting.
Collaborators: Box Brand, Box Lead Gen
Work Without Walls
Installation at the atrium in Atlanta
Arming the Sales Team
No part of the organization is under more scrutiny than sales. Sales shows up on the balance sheet. Sales is at the frontlines.
Marketing can set up the right conditions for battle.
Plenty of war analogies in here. And here's one more.
There is a job in marketing and brand to give the right ammunition for the sales team to start talks, carry out the conversation and close the deal.
The most awkward part of sales is the cold call.
The plan with the Dragon Boy project was to provide the sales team with a video they could use to impress upon the value of Box in marketing departments. Now imagine if they could customize the video for every customer they reach out to.
The original video is a story of a toy company launching a new product.
The plan is the sales team would be able to switch out certain elements of the video like comments and products with those of the customer.
If the sales team wanted to reach out to the soccer division of Nike, they insert the Nike logo and images of Mercurial Vapors kicks to the video. Generate it and insert it in the email to the VP of marketing.
Facebook's thought leadership angle is 'Women in Leadership with Sheryl Sandberg'. Intel is about 'Creativity' : Creators Project. American Express is about Entreprenuership aka Amex Open. Every company has something unique in their DNA that they can yak about for years.
What Really Gets Your Fired Up?
At Box, the topic everyone is most passionate about is the information economy. That information will drive business decisions. Which means the productivity and profit will be hugely influenced by the ability to source the right information to the right employees. The role of IT is about to change forever.
Pick a Topic, but Don't Bet the Company on it
Before you start finding a strong format for your ideas to live on forever, you have to test whether people will truly understand what it is you are talking about. Aaron's first article was in Fortune magazine. It was a good way to test the whether anyone was biting on information economy.
If you put a lot of money and time into something, it's hard to pull back because you have a lot of emotional investment. The first step was to do a few tests and pilots around the topic under the theme Destination Next: Where the information economy is headed. All we needed was a GoPro and a few favors.
Thought leadership is an ongoing program that will be unveiled through the next few quarters but the foundations are in place,
The breadth of stuff you can cover with illustration, exceeds photography by leaps in terms of costs and turnaround time. For an enterprise brand, you also get to expand the playground. The Department of Transport (you can't get any more bureaucratic than that) made 'Funny ways to die' with illlustrations.
"I'm surprised how much conceptual freedom I get when I draw stuff instead of comping it with pictures", says Koray Ekremoglu who art director a lot of the Box posters.
How do you approach illustration
Start with the product elements
"Strip down and check out the bare essentials, which are elements that make up the product" says designer Sunjin Kim. These elements are relatively simple to create and can lay the groundwork for the rest of the illustrative styles. People interact with illustrations in three different situations.
This is what goes into the product. That's the first layer of illustration.. It includes iconography, buttons, drop downs, thumbnails and other product design elements,
Then add the second layer. The illustration that shows up on your marketing site. These do the job of explaining a new product feature or a landing page or campaign. These could be pretty simple vector illustrations.
The final layer, is the most flexible. The illustration that covers all marketing promotions. Billboards, email headers, and more.
"We spent weeks looking at everything else and then realized it wasn't the right way to go about it."
Ir creates an artificial style of illustration that doesn't have the longevity or flexibilty you need. The ability to wear fresh things that have a brand language keeps things fresh. It makes the brand more personable.
It has redeeming properties.
Designing For An Unfair Advantage
Branding is about courting your audience. And great design can dramatically speed up that process.
Take product management software. Asana and both SAP Business BYDesign both want to genuinely solve the same problem. The reason Asana is killing it with user growth is because it is understands the unfair advantage design can offer.
SAP believes design is a fringe element. Although their product works, they are totally out of shape and disheveled when it's time to present themselves. Asana has UX and designers on their team. As the audience gets pickier, they will be better prepared to get that first date.
In business (or dating), first impressions count. The good news for any enterprise is, it is never too late to start
Do a design audit
"The first step is to find inconsistencies" says brand inspector Sunjin Kim, "and there are plenty of them even in the best designed sites." The reason could be because of several designers have worked on a brand and slipped in their own ideas. "While doing the Box brand audit, we found a lot of inconsistencies, not just within the marketing site, but also between marketing and product down to the various platforms Android and iOS. It felt like two different companies, " says Sunjin.
Do a competitive review
There's several colors enterprises trust to tell their story. Those colors are blue. The color should emerge from your brand personality. If you do the same thing everyone else is setting out to do then you lose competitive advantage. Do a check on what everyone is doing and zag.
"You must also stay away from trends," says Creative Director Karishma Mehta.
Create a system
There's chance the current design was made years ago. At that time the objective may have been to build, release, iterate and gain users. And design may have taken a backseat. Or you may not have had enough resources to pay for professional help. Now that you do create a look and feel that suits the next phase of your vision.
The hierarchy of consistency should be in the following order: