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Overcoming brand image barriers: a network security example

Security technology companies tend to talk a lot about boundaries and containment. It’s the nature of the business. But to thrive as technology vendors, the same companies need to cross boundaries, to expand their customer base, increase revenues, and grow.

When a security technology company decides to extend its brand to related solutions, it falls to the marketing team to connect the existing brand with the new solution in the customers’ minds. And image barriers can be mighty tough. Especially when the new solution area has already been claimed by other technology vendors with more logically related brands.

Take software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN), for example. It’s an application of software-defined networking technology that aims to provide more flexibility in how WAN connections are utilized and managed. Most customers exploring the possibilities of SD-WAN would probably look to their best-known networking technology vendors. Indeed, the leading networking vendors already offer a variety of SD-WAN solutions.

But in technology, as in life, everything is connected, meaning SD-WAN is not just a networking issue. Deploying SD-WAN affects network security. Enterprise network teams must ensure that SD-WAN traffic is as secure as it was when they used dedicated MPLS links and backhauled all their WAN traffic through the data center.

Psychology comes into play

Network security vendors have an opportunity to help customers solve their SD-WAN challenges. But how do they convince network managers to trust a security company with a networking issue? Simply asserting that your company can provide an SD-WAN solution would create what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance” in customers’ minds. This is a feeling of discomfort that arises when a new piece of information conflicts with existing beliefs. And you must address it at the outset. Otherwise, your audience will likely resolve its cognitive dissonance by ignoring your message.

The way to address the problem is to create a logical bridge for the target audience to cross. Building that bridge begins with helping the target audience see their problem in a new light. In other words, you should reframe the issue in a way that makes sense and will most likely lead customers to explore your brand-extended solution.

Here is one of the ways we helped one of our network security clients reframe the SD-WAN challenge. This blog post was part of an ongoing stream of marketing content (including webinars, web content, collateral, and more). After all, marketers need to be persistent when trying to change entrenched brand perceptions. As the technology evolves and the competitive landscape changes, it is important to refine the issue-reframing strategy and update posted content, so it will resonate with audiences at every stage.


Tami Demayo


July 15, 2020
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