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Tech companies have cropped up from everywhere. Even traditionally non-digital enterprises like Nike and Starbucks have ridden the technological game, or else they vanish. But it’s the constant rise and expansion of digital solutions that make tech companies, especially startups, toil to rise up from the crowd.
What can potentially forecast the success of a tech startup other than money and technology? We’ve seen it in Google and Apple, whose brands have successfully penetrated every inch of the globe. What could be so special about these companies other than fame and c-suite smarties?
Turns out, well-established branding is the key. A brand is partly the tangible things and more about the experience. More than the logo, websites, and slogans, good branding is the reason behind people anticipating a product release year after year. Or despite major revamps in company policies, customers stick to using the service. Whatever that is, it's branding. Branding is an experience. Perhaps so vast and so huge that only big companies have the resources to comprehend. In fact, it might be the opposite, the reason they’re big and resource-laden is because they understanding deep-seated branding.
Here are some of the best ways you jumpstart your branding as soon as you start your tech business:
The most successful tech businesses like Apple and Google know the reason why they exist. For Apple, it’s evident in their mission statement:
“Apple is dedicated to the empowerment of man—to making personal computing accessible to each and every individual so as to help change the way we think, work, learn, and communicate.”
For Google: “Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Asking the “why,” according to Simone Sinek, the proponent of the “Start With Why” narrative, enables whatever business to penetrate a saturated market. Businesses who know their whys often have very tone-accurate marketing and advertising strategies leading to better customer acquisition and retention. A smart and well-outlined core answers as to the existence of a business helps them target a specific pool of customers and stakeholders.
Before you think through the tangible aspects of a brand such as the logo, websites, and typography, consider asking specific questions about the reason of the company’s founding. What do you seek to solve? Who do you wish to help? How do you wish to aid the problem? What will keep the company existing? Answers to these questions might change over time, but they are the foundation of a focused and sensible tech enterprise.
After you form this foundation, that’s when it’s right to obsess over the brand name, and the logo design. It would be easier by then to create the shapes, the image, and the color that you want. Whether you run them through a logo maker or have your logo professionally designed, you will have created a wonderful visual identity that sits right at your branding core.
What differentiates you from the competition? The tech industry is just so varied, so big, that for whatever problems, google can point you to a solution. So, it’s vital that a tech business knows its edge. Research the industry. Know what lacks, what is loose, and what is the void that only you can provide.
Industry research makes up the perspectives of the whole industry. There should be more analyst and stakeholder outlooks, industry trends, and brand differentiation. Apart from qualitative research, you must quantify data and industry projections.
If a B2B brand, for instance, has researched about the client’s fear of spoilage and downtimes over incapacitated temperature monitoring solutions, you can strategically position your brand as something that not only acknowledges but also allay those fears. Say words like “downtimes cost a huge sum of money, even the loss of life. Hence, our services aim to eradicate those problems with high-precision and sustainable digital monitors.”
Competitive industry research allows you to humanize your brand. When you know, through firsthand experience or network research, what bothers your potential customers and stakeholders, you can then create your brand identity posed as a solution and an ally.
Tech businesses would often rely on product-focused branding. And that’s fine only if all people are rational, but they’re not. We’re all emotional beings. We love a good story. That’s what a budding tech business should capitalize on. And you might be wondering what kind of story does B2B or SaaS services can give?
You see, the kind of stories that sell are those that are neither unique nor inspiring but vulnerable and honest. And I think all tech businesses have that. From the experience of the founder on miscalculated payslips to the wrong custom designs from a freelance agency, stories are inherent and natural. As long as they touch all points of a narrative arc, it’s a good branding essential.
The best thing about stories is that they penetrate even the most untrusting business stakeholder, ultimately leading to better investments. Also, it’s a wonderful touching point where employees can probably relate to — an excellent way to promote inter-agency branding.
Employees are the first steward of your brand. Every successful branding strategy must sit right with those involved in the company’s operations. Especially for small businesses, it’s imperative to incorporate the branding image and persona in the employees’ everyday transactions. Like Googleyness, a term that the Google company derived from their employees being out of the box.
Employees must live the brand. That means incorporating the brand in their creative process from the product creation to the development stage to client use. Imagine if your employees have a good sense of your brand core, image, and story, these will translate in their email messages, flyers, website copies, and customer services. Employees are your own brand ambassadors. Even freelancers or agencies can conceive better-suited marketing materials as your employees communicate the brand message well.
If a tech business prioritizes market penetration, it will result in a good short-term bottom line. Yet a brand that pervades the business operations, market penetration will outlast intergenerational transfers. It’s no accident why some brands remain valuable after decades of changing executives and owners. While that might be a bit of a challenge for technology businesses due to incremental tech evolution, it still pays to build the foundations right so you reap a satisfying reward, something that sustains the brand for years to come.
Voice and tones are two different things. Brand voice is the kind of message or perspective you share with your customers. A B2B tech company, for instance, may choose to highlight how easy it is to use its services. Another one might constantly share how inexpensive their products are relative to their counterpart’s solutions. Your brand voice is the content of your message.
Brand tone, on the other hand, is the way the company chooses to spread the message. It’s the “how” of disseminating information. The way you communicate with a senior high schooler is different from how you speak with a grandmother. Or that you will have to differentiate professional designers from coding experts so you craft an accurate tone. Still, you don’t want to bore the average consumers with high-brow jargon. Not only it excludes lay readers, but also shows pomposity to even the seasoned audience.
Any tech business must always highlight a branding message of innovation. No one wants to work with companies that are stuck with tradition and specificity. As much as possible, you want to cover all existing problems of your clients, even if that means establishing newer products every quarter. Your customers and their problems are your concerns and not your products and services. Brands that are customer-centric tend to develop better and last longer.
Part of a good branding message is showing that the company listens. The product evolves out of the plight of your customers and that constant innovation is underway. Innovation has to seep through the core, the “why”, of your business process. It has to project that the company is always open to changes if that’s for the betterment of your stakeholders.
An innovative brand positioning is a good way to make marketing and advertising revamp easier. For example, if you wish to add customer experience stories in your newer campaigns or incorporate the essence of your business ventures along the way, It’s easier for people to see it as your company’s innovation tactics — one that is in line with your branding. This means they shouldn’t get surprised over little changes. If they’re tied to the inner branding mission and goals, stakeholders see them as something worthwhile and expected.
People every so often associate branding with marketing. And they’re right, it is associated. But to think they’re the same can breed potential problems that neither branding nor marketing can salvage.
It pays to know that branding comes first and foremost before marketing. That marketing can only succeed when business owners establish the brand message, voice, and goals in the first place. Even small changes can unease customers when they are not rooted in the brand experience. It would be the opposite if they love your brand, whatever the changes might be, they’ll find themselves sticking to the solutions you give.