When I was at Marqui, we transformed a technology-centric brand to a prospect-centric brand quite successfully. I inherited a technical software company look in Maestro CMS, a regional Canadian software company looking to reinvent itself.
The goal of the new executive team was to create the “salesforce.com” for marketers in Marqui. Our product would help marketers manage their web site, launch their own email campaigns; anything it took to help marketers communicate online with customers and prospects and measure the results.
We needed a different degree of brand engagement with our prospects as we broke into the United States. We were in an incredibly fractious market, and needed to quickly stand out from the rest of the software companies fighting for marketers’ attention. But first, we needed to figure out who we were, given our daunting objectives and the new team in place.
Marqui, Meet Your Brand Promise
First we went through a series of exercises to profile ourselves as an organization, and our promise to the world. Some interesting findings emerged. Our newly formed executive team’s attributes were largely dominated by the following:
- Take a stand
These “Explorer” tendencies resolved into the following brand and (product or company) attributes:
- To help people feel free (Marqui freed marketers from relying on others)
- Marqui was rugged and sturdy (Had all the features marketers needed)
- To help people express their individuality (Marqui helped enforce a company’s brand, which is their individuality)
- Can be purchased for ‘on the go’ (Software as a Service – could access Marqui from anywhere)
- Wants to differentiate from a successful ‘regular guy’ brand (Our vision - develop a Center for Marketing Excellence to support that “salesforce.com for marketers” vision - which became the raison d’etre of our blog)
- Our explorer culture created a new and exciting product or experience (our company was distributed in three states; as such, it was important that our virtual teams worked well in creating the vision)
Examples of other “Explorer” brands are Starbucks, Virgin Airlines, Levis, and Patagonia. We felt we were in good company - that there was a good fit between our brand attributes, our vision and our team.
Marqui, Meet Rachel
Step two was to profile our prospect for the entire organization to understand. From a sales, marketing, engineering and support perspective, it was imperative to have a deep understanding of Rachel.
According to the AMA in 2004, Rachel:
- Was 42 years old
- Was a marketing communications director leading outbound marketing efforts for a mid-size organization
- Made approximately $80K
- Worked 50+ hours a week
- Was likely divorced, with no children
- Led a team of 4-6 marketing specialists
She enjoyed running a marketing organization, but was coming under increasing pressure. Rachel had lost her control of her marketing domain as it moved increasingly online. Dependent on her IT team (if she was lucky enough to have one) or outside resources, she longed for the simpler days when she felt the freedom of control of her own destiny.
Marqui, Meet your New Heart, Soul and Face to the World:
Marqui’s brand promise - quite literally - was to restore Rachel’s ability (that freedom and control) to manage her own domain. Once we had a good understanding of Rachel’s persona and her challenges, our brand needed to support our promise. We looked back to a simple time - the 50’s and early 60’s - when technology held the promise to simplify our lives.
First we came up with “Jack” - the delightfully simple logo that elegantly payed off the Marqui name. Jack was certainly capable of leading people to new places, in a friendly, safe manner, illuminating the way. He fit our explorer brand. Armed with Jack and our explorer brand attributes, Rachel’s needs for freedom and (at the same time) control, we were able to be very specific in guiding our creative agency in giving Marqui a heart, soul and face to the world.
Here are some of the files associated with the updated Marqui brand:
The 50’s road trip theme was complete with stamps (for our paper communications with prospects), postcards for direct marketing and brand awareness, and the tiny touches that made our brand completely engaging. We created little artifacts to play with our brand - we had a dog, “Buster;” a vintage airplane (which later found its place in Aviation Gin); and “Jimmy,” complete with his Ray Gun - to use in illustrating our brand’s promise, the ease of our products and the company itself.
Our prospects adored the brand. At trade shows, on the speaking tour and online, we were constantly complimented for our vibrant, fun, engaging brand. “You don’t look like other software companies…” The brand itself pulled people in.
This is probably the brand work that’s made me the most proud in my career in marketing. We had a ton of fun with the process, and - although it feels today as if the brand manifested itself exactly as it was meant to be - we did go through a deliberate internal reflection and a creative process that illuminated our final choices.
The brand lived on until the company, after two years of trying to hit the US market, retrenched in 2006 and remains a regional software company today.