Graphic Design | Website Design | Brochure Design | Identity Design | Infographics | Brand Love | Brand Strategy | Accelerate | Campaigns | Software Marketing
Software marketing and brand-building is one of the things we love doing most at the loft. We love the excitement of something new, the challenge of winning over new customers/clients – sometimes for the first time, the variety of communication ideas required to win hearts and minds with different stakeholders, the creation and eventually the renewal of different marketing materials and finally working in a high-tempo environment with people that are managing a great deal of change in short periods of time.
Over the best part of a decade, we’ve worked closely with an organisation called Altia-ABM. Formerly know as separate companies, Altia Solutions and ABM Intelligence, they are a fast-growing international group which develops smart investigation software to support criminal investigations and manage covert operations.
They are an exceptional organisation with an incredibly capable team and several strong product/service offerings. We’re delighted to have played a small part in helping them increase turnover, improve profitability and build a recognisable worldwide brand. However, we are even more proud to have been true creative partners, to have had the opportunity to try some new things, to have learned so much and have a lot of fun along the way. A software marketing case study with a difference, this is our ‘Creative Partnership’ with Altia-ABM.
Creating a brand that is strong, impactful and consistent is the goal of any company and this is no different with software brands. One of the most significant parts of our creative collaboration was the creation of product sub-brands for Toolkit, Insight, Toolbar and Digital Manager. They were produced almost at the beginning of our relationship and as can be seen, these data-inspired logos were beautiful to look at, had an underlying message tied-in and most importantly they were used in just about every brand or marketing communication for 3-4 years as well as on the software itself. They gave every marketing activity created, an initial level of quality and also more importantly something to fall back on when quick ideas were required for a campaign or a launch, etc. They have been updated twice since our collaboration began, most recently in 2019 and are still used today.
Full Company Buy-In
Harnessing the potential of different groups of people is critical for successful software companies that are growing quickly. Getting buy-in from every part of the team and as many members of staff as possible, is important. A lot of the time, people will be asked to go above, beyond and then some in so many different ways. With Altia and ABM, we believed there was a tremendous opportunity to use branding and other creative exercises as a way to bring people together, to have their ideas listened too, considered and used in some occasions too. During a number of different branding exercises with both Altia Solutions and ABM Intelligence (who merged in 2016) throughout the years, we interviewed and spent quality time with every single person in the company – from the management teams to the sales teams to the technical people to the admin staff. Important presentations such as re-brands, values exercises, etc were taken out of the security of the board-room and presented to everybody in the entire company in their offices in both Glasgow and Nottingham. At the loft we pitch ideas all day long in the studio and are used to being uncomfortable, however this was a step beyond that, and great fun too. Finally, there can be no substitute for true collaboration between organisations – we lost count of the number of times a creative idea or solution to a particular problem would come from an unexpected source. Our favourite example is during a Christmas campaign, when we mailed out promotional materials with a Christmas theme to all of Altia’s customers – the tagline for the card itself came from the Managing Director Ian Watson, ‘There is no time like the present, there is no present like time.’ A great little nod to the key benefit of Altia’s software solutions – the giving back of ‘time’ to investigators.
‘Building on what you already have’ is a big loft principle and one we’re glad we shared with Altia. In some circumstances, you have to ask yourself, why go out and invest more energy/time/money on winning new customers, building new relationships, etc when there are plenty of ways to serve existing customers in a better way and build on existing successes? What’s more, while working with Altia, we found that most of their customers were only using around 20-30% of their software’s overall functionality. There was more of their software that they could access and benefit from. With that information in mind – we were delighted to be given the opportunity to work with the Altia development and training teams to co-produce a simple newsletter system, one which would introduce a new feature of the software to Altia’s user-base each week. The communication would consist of a simple digital graphic of the software feature leading to a short blog/video-log with more information. This was tremendously received as it was short, fast, un-obtrusive and more in the interests of improving service rather than selling. Finally, the company also re-doubled efforts with activities such as training seminars which allowed customers to not only learn about the software but to also become co-creators with future versions. All actions which were brilliant for building even further customer retention.
Serving The Greater Good
Companies with a purpose, a mission, a cause, those which serve the greater good are those which tend to most easily win hearts and minds in the sectors that they operate. In 2015, Altia’s Managing Director, Ian Watson, had a wonderful idea to set-up a national forum bringing together some of the most influential people in the law-enforcement community. ‘The Serious & Organised Crime Exchange’ (SOCEX) was born. It was the largest law-enforcement event of its type in the UK and possibly the world, at that time, with the first event being attended by the Rt Hon Theresa May MP, the UK’s then Home Secretary. We were delighted to work closely with the Altia management team to develop the initial brand, conference communications and continue with the partnership for another 5 years afterwards. SOCEX was a tremendous success and has burned firstly Altia Solutions and now Altia-ABM into the hearts and minds of everybody involved with law-enforcement.
We’re All Human-Beings
With the intelligence and sophistication of the technology being developed – it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that our customers, staff and other stakeholders are all still human-beings. For the activities we worked on – we wanted to make everything the company did as people-friendly as possible, for the service to be invisible, unobtrusive and to go one step further from a marketing communication into something quite pleasurable and enjoyable. Some of the most effective ideas that we developed together included fun stuff like mugs with word-searches, coasters like jigsaws and even a bespoke newspaper designed like an actual broadsheet – complete with fun cartoons of messages relevant to the audience. Each of these little ideas helping to give pleasure to the people that Altia-ABM software was serving – everybody from the most influential decision-makers in law-enforcement to procurement managers to the analysts using the software themselves.
Hand Drawn Sketches
Practical Communications. One of the little quirks of our partnership was the creating and presenting of hand-drawn sketches. These were a brilliant way to quickly present ideas for new launches, campaigns and other marketing activities. We presented ideas for everything from websites to explainer videos to company gift boxes. Each of them a response to a tight deadline, produced in a few hours and presented to Altia in short spaces of time by different members of our team. These sketch and idea sheets – of which there were many – were usually presented alongside costed proposals of activities where we would highlight prioritised software marketing activities that would make the maximum impact in the shortest period of time possible. Brilliant for rapid-decision making.
The Power of Values
Values make a difference in so many ways and our work with Altia and ABM, when both companies were merging, demonstrated this to tremendous effect. The creation of strong practical values helped the organisation communicate their culture to new employees, helped with the winning of competitive tenders with customers (as prestigious as international governments) and in a number of other small ways too. Even the research exercises themselves were tremendously effective in showing the staff that the organisation cared and wanted to co-develop the culture with them as stakeholders. What was so effective with the values we created was that they were based on what both organisations were already doing and doing well, they talked a lot about behaviours activities which were practical. We even surpassed traditional terminology – moving from ‘values, vision and mission,’ to the more human ‘Who We Are and What We Do.’
Pictures Which Cut Through
The importance of powerful imagery can never be under-estimated – nothing communicates an idea like a powerful picture. With all of the brands we worked with throughout the years – Altia Solutions, ABM Intelligence, Altia-ABM, SOCEX, The Keith Hughes Awards, etc – some exceptional images were used – sometimes complex, sometime sophisticated and at other times – quite simple.
‘Into Alignment’ used in the 2015 SOCEX identity, brochure and every communication afterwards was one such idea – one of the main talking points of the first conference was the connecting of decision-makers from three tiers of law-enforcement – local, regional and national. We took 3 inter-connecting network spheres of difference sizes to represent the 3 tiers of law-enforcement and connected them with an X for ‘Exchange.’ Tremendously effective and as mentioned – beautifully forming the first SOCEX logo and introducing the main conference theme ‘Into Alignment.’
There were many additional examples, particularly with SOCEX, throughout the years.
The importance of numbers – how many hours of an investigator’s time saved, how much budget can be re-deployed, how many more documents can be scanned, etc were all still incredibly important despite the efforts to humanise all of the communications. We created a number of infographics and visual representations communicating the most important of these statistics and presented them in a number of different ways from postcards sent as part of marketing campaigns to website infographics to one-page PDFs that a sales person could use to present to a prospective client on their I-Pads. We were always looking to communicate them in a visually-friendly way with our software marketing.
Greater professionalisation with software marketing becomes more important, the bigger a company becomes and we were delighted that we were able to build real consistency into the Altia Solutions, ABM Intelligence, Altia-ABM and also the SOCEX brands over multiple cycles over the years. This helped give the company a truly professional appearance over many years to a wide variety of different audiences.
It is important to manage the beginning and ending of various cycles in the least dirusative ways possible. Growing organisations will go through more periods of renewal in a shorter spaces of time than other companies. This is where properly practical activities are more important than ever before to ensure a smooth handover from one decision maker to another. One document that we particularly enjoyed creating and believed served this purpose very well was these ‘user-friendly’ brand guidelines for SOCEX. Big, bold statements which communicates instructions in a common-sense, practical and user-friendly way as opposed to more authoritative and traditional brand guidelines – there is an emphasis on common-sense backed up with the information required. Whilst speaking of succession, we also carried out work with Altia-ABM after they completely re-branded with another provider and continue to help them shape their brand to this day.
Great Company, Great Product, Great Results
When all is said and done, as much as we enjoyed creating different software marketing materials, learning so much and on many occasions delivering great work to tight time schedules. None of the success of this creative partnership would have been possible without working with a company that had an outstanding product offering, exceptional service and some great people at its heart.
We are delighted to have collaborated with such a wonderful company as Altia-ABM and to see their continued success.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are thinking about software marketing or branding.
Thanks for reading, the loft team.
For more information on software marketing check out ‘Marketing for Software Companies: 3 Software Marketing Strategies to Use’ or ‘7 Key Marketing Strategies for Technology Companies.’