A lot of managed service providers (MSPs) don’t really understand how much can go wrong when it comes to branding. Having good products and services is not enough for a trusted brand, and MSP owners and managers can miss out on acquiring the top clients that excellent branding brings.
A great brand is what actually puts your MSP ahead of the competition and makes you stand out! Easy and straightforward solutions for MSP branding done the right way are:
- Decide whether you’re a budget, average or premium MSP
- Avoid making your brand too generic and corporate
- Add a unique angle to your identity that makes you stand out
- Add personality–be savvy, cool or funny
- Invoke emotion
- Define your promise to your clients
- Define your promise to your staff
What is a brand for MSPs?
A better question would be, “What ISN’T a brand?” For starters, a managed service provider’s brand isn’t its logo, the visual aspect of the company or a marketing style. What branding actually incorporates are the following:
- Details unique to your company that allow decision makers to trust you
- The whole personality of your business
- How people feel about your company
- Everything your staff and clients expect from you
The best way to define and create your MSP brand is to hit the sweet spot between sharing valuable information with the public and letting the character of your company shine through in a unique and genuine way.
At Support Adventure, we’ve held meetings with hundreds of MSP owners, and sadly, they all seem the same most of the time. Before speaking with them, we also look at their website and there is nothing that differentiates them.
These websites mostly highlight their features only, with little to no mention of the benefits of working with them.
To get started, you need to define what kind of service you provide. After you’ve done that, it is easier to build the rest of the components of your unique MSP brand.
Define the level of service for your managed service provider brand
Are you a budget, average (mid-range) or premium MSP?
We are a premium staffing company, which helps us acquire premium clients over our budget staffing competitors. This is the reason every service requires different branding.
Some features that make a service premium are the amount of care and resources put into its operational processes, as well as its ability to be selective about who it works with and employs. Click here for more on how to become a premium MSP.
But what if you are an average MSP just trying to provide a good service for a decent amount of money? Or maybe you’re working on a tight budget and providing a basic service for a cheap price. Budget services need the least investment in branding since it is all about the pricing for them.
However, we’ve found over the years that the clients who are penny-pinching on their service are the ones that will cause the most problems and trust you the least. So just beware of that.
It pays off faster to put in the effort to become a premium MSP. Once you’ve figured that out, it’s time to focus on upgrading your brand.
The problem with too generic MSP brands
When branding or rebranding your managed service, don’t be afraid to get creative! Too many MSPs look similar. By being original, you will surely stand out.
You can start with the name of your MSP. It is the first thing a client or a candidate gets to see about you. If it is generic, they will easily confuse you with another company, or not be able to even remember the name.
A guideline to follow when thinking about a name for your MSP is to add something extra that is unrelated to the field. A good example of this strategy is our client “Genuine Technologies.” Their name has an emotional dimension to it because the word “genuine” triggers a positive emotional association and impression.
Another naming strategy worth trying is to think of a precious stone and incorporate it into your name. The important thing is that it has to be a name that shows attributes that correlate with your vision of the company and its values.
A touch of personality is also a must. Think of some of your favorite people you’ve met or admire. What is their character like? Now think about those people’s traits and how you would like to see them in your company as well.
Do you want it to be dependable, honest, funny, responsive, communicative, good at listening or assertive? You can write down traits and use that brand identity document to govern your marketing communication style, marketing material, social media posts and everything that helps you get your message out to the world.
Make your brand personality easy to understand and clear. Create an entity that will show people what you are all about, what you stand for and why people should trust you.
If you are creative, clear and build a brand around your values, you will do great. However, there is one trap to avoid in this process…
Managed service provider brands must avoid being too corporate
Too many times, we’ve seen managed service provider branding come across as overly corporate, which often has an adverse effect for attracting the most talented techs.
Corporate managed service providers often focus solely on talking about their service’s features in a sterile and uninspiring way. They often lack the ability to truly empathize with their audience. MSPs we see flourish are more casual and fun. They’re techy, but still don’t take themselves or their workplace too seriously. If your clients are creative people in marketing, tech or art, they would love this. Even if they are not, they will get inspired for sure. Some brands also go the funny route with self deprecating marketing referring to themselves as “nerds” or “geeks.”
It will help you to look at the competition and what they are bringing to the table. They might offer insight into what not to do when branding your MSP, or inspire an idea you didn’t have before.
Whatever personality you choose for your MSP brand, make sure to add emotion.
A little emotion goes a long way for MSP brands
Even when an MSP has an overly corporate image, there still needs to be a hint of emotion. Even if it is formulated using different vocabulary, it must still be there.
Emotion is what brings your brand and your audience together. Think about what kind of emotion you want to evoke with your brand and company. Do you want it to be humor, expansion, reaching new heights, security, trust?
Just avoid overdramatizing and simply be genuine. The emotions you emit from the brand of your managed service should be part of the whole image, not something that stands out as incongruent. That will just confuse your audience and discredit your brand.
MSP staff are valuable for branding
When it comes to being genuine and evoking emotions, there are no better judges of your brand’s success than your staff–all of them.
From the receptionist to the techs to the managers, they are an inseparable part of your MSP, and as such, should be incorporated into your brand. Take good care of them and the environment they work in if you want to attract the best staff to work for you.
You must also ask yourself, “What is the promise I am making to them?” Is it a distraction-free, supportive environment where their professional development is encouraged? Is it an open communication policy style or no overtime work?
If you stick to your promise and incorporate it operationally, your employees will be happy and able to do great work, attracting more customers and keeping the old ones.
Attract MSP clients with the right branding
The same goes for your MSP clients.
Your clients need to know what to expect when working with your company. Listen to their needs and build trust by providing a consistent service.
Think about what is the promise you give to your clients and why they should choose you over another MSP.
If you are unsure where to start, we are here to help! We have provided remote technical staff, as well as consultation, for over 50 MSPs. Click here to see what services we offer to MSPs!