Be the siren


Be the siren

Has IT become a commodity? What is a commodity? Useful. Valuable. Essential. The good news is that clients’ see IT – whether it’s software development, BPO, AI, surveillance or even cybersecurity – as must-haves. Essential. Normal. If this is the case, how can IT companies differentiate themselves?

How then do you shift from what will become ‘same old’ to ‘distinct’?

One way is to pretend you’re marketing water, the ultimate commodity.

Water is both useful and essential but how does one brand outperform another?

Here’s a couple of thoughts about how to differentiate your brand, whether you’re in IT or any other area where the offer has become both essential and useful.

  • Target clients. As we all know, you cannot be all things to all people. Be very clear on who will benefit the most from your service.
  • Bundling services. Look for ways to bundle services which fit together. Or find other vendors (e.g., BPO’s) who could improve their offer by including your services.
  • Make life easier. When it comes to reporting, how do you make life easier for your client? Craft (yes, craft) concise but powerful reports. And do a better job on layout. Think about how easy or difficult it is to do business with you and make life easier for your clients.
  • Grow your client. You’re there to provide an essential service, but you’re also there to make your client look smart with his or her boss. Help your client to get their next big promotion. Partnering with you must say something about them. Create an aura around your brand.
  • Choose your words carefully. Whether you’re writing copy for your website or your sales pitch, choose your words carefully. The words that you choose will attract, repel, or attract no emotion. Neuroscience can help you to choose the right words and phrases but simplistically, what emotions do your words invoke? This is important because everybody in IT says the same things.
  • Refresh your brand. What was good 5 years ago is old today. The millennials and the pandemic have changed attitudes and behaviour forever. The Ukraine situation will also change the way that people think. Straplines must ideally connect with audience psychographics instead of telling how good you are, or what you offer.
  • Dive deep. Work hard to find what differentiates you. It might not be the intrinsic features of your offer. It might be the excellence of your people, the way that you do business, your exceptional insight, the brightness of your R&D team, the way that you optimise your client’s position. Look beyond the product. If you can’t find anything, innovate and invent.
  • Break the mould. For many IT companies, just marketing gives them an edge. In a sector that is losing intrigue, create an aura around your brand.

As far as case studies go, ooba springs to mind for me. Nothing to do with IT but a good example. The South African mortgage origination market had grown rapidly, matured and soon became the norm. A commodity. Useful. Essential. Ooba innovated (and even distanced themselves from the norm by changing their name), emerging as a fresh and bright siren in a market that had become same-old. Become the siren!

Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa Brand & Design



Sherpa is a Brand & Design company which helps clients to differentiate their brand, with a promise to Stand Out and Be Found, through brand strategy and digital platforms.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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