3 Lessons for IT Pros to Boost their Company’s Brand

During one episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley, the show’s protagonists find themselves handling the fallout of a disastrous product launch when their Nucleus compression software bungles a UFC livestream.

“How bad is this, be honest? Is this Windows Vista bad? Is it Zune bad? It’s not iPhone 4 bad, is it?”
“I’m sorry Gavin. It’s Apple Maps bad.”

Four years after the launch of Maps, the product has become a pop culture punch-line that’s done lingering damage to what is otherwise one of the world’s most trusted brands. While the Cupertino based tech giant tried to counter the fallout with a more aggressive PR strategy, the debacle was an important teachable moment; that the job of building brand loyalty ultimately rest with the teams creating a company’s products. Here are a few lessons for those very people:

Choose your friends (and partners) wisely.

Prospective vendors and suppliers should be held to the same standards you hold for your company. “Every third-party provider or service that your company uses is a reflection of your brand,” says marketing guru Scott Stratten.His words ring true in the colocation space, where carriers, cloud-providers and others can be customers, partners and competitors simultaneously. That’s why at ROOT, prospective partnerships must provide more than immediate financial gain – specifically, will they benefit our existing customers and reflect well on us?

And it’s not just client facing partners that must meet these standards. Companies whose work is buried deep in your software’s back-end or supply chain do to, even when they’re on the other side of the world. Nothing illustrates this more dramatically than the 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1129 people, where Loblaw’s Joe Fresh clothing line was produced. The grocery giant quickly found itself answering for the contractor’s abysmal safety conditions and now faces a $2 billion class-action lawsuit.

Engineer trust.

Trust is a critical strategic asset, writes the Harvard Business Review. Why then does the job of earning it so often fall to the sales and marketing teams, rather than the developers, product managers and engineers? “Sometimes, the most important trust you can develop doesn’t start with corporate transparency, but with smaller-scale design decisions,” says e-commerce CEO Himanshu Sareen.He’s right, and it’s a perspective technology teams must embrace. That means making brand reliability a driving factor in decision making from project conception to execution and close. For fintech start-up Wealthsimple, that meant developers building an interface that was easy to understand and shook lingering fears about robo-advisors. The reward has been slicing a half billion dollar market share from Canada’s big banks.

Amazon has become the most trusted tech brand in the US, while almost entirely eliminating their traditional advertising budget, instead focusing on developing a military-grade algorithm responsible for low cost and same day delivery. Similarly, they also deployed data centers in Montreal, taking advantage of the region’s low energy rates, to further support its low-cost business model. Which takes us to our next point:

Build sustainability into your business model.

All too often, marketing departments will slap the label “green” on a product before launch and call it a day. Instead, organizations should start much further back at a product – or their company’s – conception. The manufacturing teams at BMW have long understood the value proposition of sustainability, using almost entirely recyclable materials for the cars, as part of one of the most sustainable supply chains in the world.We opened ROOT Data Center in Montreal because of Quebec’s cool climate and clean energy. Sustainability, rather than a cost center, is one our competitive advantages. It’s a move that’s been validated by some of the biggest companies in the world. While Facebook was once panned for using coal powered data centers, they have since invested in facilities in Forth Worth, Texas and near the Arctic Circle in Sweden. Google is not far behind, with a pledge to have their data centers running on 100 per cent renewables at some time this year.

The bottom line: Good IT pros believe in their organization’s brand. Great ones believe in their ability to improve that brand.