Meeting the Challenge of Tech Branding

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Meeting the Challenge of Tech Branding

When you’re competing in a crowded marketplace, you need a strong brand to cut through the noise. This is foundational marketing truth, as universally accepted as Newton’s third law of gravity or the Golden Rule. But many technology companies seem to believe it doesn’t apply to them.

One explanation is that the founders put so much time and energy into perfecting their product that they have little left over for so-called non-core priorities, like branding and marketing. “When I first started my career in high-tech B2B marketing, I didn’t know what branding was,” says Juliette Rizkallah, CMO at Kong, a cloud connectivity company. “I was trained in product management and product marketing, and in my mind if the product was good, that was all the company needed.”

That misperception can keep a promising product from ever finding its audience. To be sure, differentiation isn’t a guarantee—even a strong brand can fall prey to the whims of the marketplace. But there are steps a tech company can take to lessen the risk of drowning in a sea of sameness:

Break windows. Splash some paint. Presumably you built your product by flouting convention, getting inside your customers’ heads, and creating something truly different. Now apply that same aptitude for disruption and perceptiveness to your brand. Know exactly what your brand stands for and convey it clearly, truthfully and memorably.

Make sure you have a crystal clear value proposition. A value proposition is the explicit expression of your brand promise—the reason why consumers should choose your brand above all others in the category.  Consider Dropbox’s value prop: “Tools you need to keep everything organized, secure, easy to access and in sync.” Or Uber’s: “The smartest way to get around. One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.” Whether B2B or B2C, your audiences want to know how your technology offerings can add value to their business and make a difference in their lives.

Eschew obfuscation. While tech-based products can simplify our lives, making them understandable can be a challenge. Keeping your brand relatable and free of technical or industry-specific jargon will enhance its clarity and impact. Behavox is a security software company built around AI and highly complex algorithms, but its brand is straightforward and benefit-driven: “Software that protects companies and their employees from bad actors engaged in illegal and malicious activities.”

Get emotional. Don’t just hype your product and its amazing features. Tell a story and make your target consumer the hero; show how your brand relates to their customers’ lives. And make no mistake: This applies to B2B tech branding no less than to B2C. According to a CEB-Google study, emotions figure much more importantly than logic, reason and product specs in B2B buying decisions. “[B2B] buyers may try to make rational decisions,” the study notes, “but they are often influenced by gut feelings and emotions … whether consciously or not.”

Don’t go it alone. Building a strong tech brand isn’t a DIY project. Consider hiring a strategic marketing consultancy—one with experience helping tech companies expand their reach and convey their brand across all communications channels.

Technology firms today compete in a noisy arena. But you don’t need to shout to be heard above the din. The key is to know your audience, speak to them with a compelling value proposition and reach them where they are.