Do Tech Companies Really Need Brand Building? (Spoiler Alert: They Do!)

Do Tech Companies Really Need Brand Building? (Spoiler Alert: They Do!)
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In this guest post, Drew Usher (main photo), strategy director at Hotwire, says just because you’re an exciting tech start-up, that’s still no excuse to scrimp on the PR and the marketing budgets…

When tech companies are looking to start up or grow, branding, comms, and marketing is often left at the bottom of the budgetary list in favour of other priorities.

However, when branding is abandoned, studies consistently show the bottom line suffers. So, does branding deserve a place on the ‘must have’ pile instead of ‘nice to have’ of tech companies?

‘Running lean’ doesn’t mean ‘no branding’

Ironically, branding itself suffers from a branding issue. It is left over from the days when marketing and associated activities were seen as ‘extra’ activities only undertaken when financial times were good.

Tech companies, like most companies, run lean and must make hard budgetary decisions. Tech scale ups are often focused on product versus people. It stands to reason most tech executives have grown their businesses by focusing on the product to get funding – but then when they move to scale up, they need to focus on people – i.e. customers, investors, staff – to scale the business.

Most tech companies think brand building means spending money on multiple activations. And as a result, for most tech scale ups, brand building is delayed until they raise their final rounds of funding, which is often when scale ups commit to a significant marketing push.

In most instances this to too late. Forbes reports consistent branding across all channels increases revenue by 23 per cent, while 82 per cent of investors want the companies they invest in to have a strong brand.

Experienced marketers know cutting branding, marketing and comms activities ends up making a company invisible to its target audience.

So, what is a good brand?

A strong brand has a direct impact on profitability because premium brands with a good reputation can charge a premium for their products; and customer brand loyalty is worth 10 times more than a one-off relationship.

A strong brand also attracts and retains the best talent, and can also better weather recessions and crises because first branding impressions not only create trust, they last.

An effective brand identity is one which immediately elicits positive associations and feelings in your target market and feeds into your wider marketing, communications and PR. It represents not only a product, but a personality, a connected story, and a feeling. Good branding.

First impressions last

‘First impressions last’ is a cliché for a reason. It takes one tenth of a second for humans to form a first impression, because first impressions are formed in the subconscious, not the conscious. When it comes to a brand, it takes about 50 milliseconds for customers to form an opinion about your brand. Once formed, that opinion is very difficult to change because it’s now subject to a neural pathway.

Rebranding or refining a brand after it has launched is too late in the eyes of the consumer. The single greatest negative impact of inconsistent branding is the creation of confusion in the market. Many tech start-ups never recover from this confusion and get lost in the competition noise because they never significantly differentiated their brand.

Now, 89 per cent of B2B marketers say brand awareness is their most important goal, followed by sales and lead generation, because the former informs the latter.

How to get branding right the first time

Crafting a solid brand strategy to define the core of a brand, what it stands for, why it exists, and what it promises to deliver, is often the first step for tech start-ups and scale ups, and informs the wider marketing and PR piece.

Once developed, the brand strategy is translated into a brand identity, an entire system of unique visual and verbal assets. These create a uniquely ownable language to drive connected storytelling across all channels, using consistency of visual and verbal cues to create brand recall.

Typically, it is applied to owned assets first, before building to paid and earned activity to drive traffic.

Creating a strong brand identity and then manifesting it across all owned customer touch points is a foundational must, not a ‘nice to have’, if you want to drive brand recognition and recall.

A well-considered brand strategy is the first step in brand building, and the subsequent brand identity  that follows provides the necessary kit of parts that all tech companies need to create distinctive communications people will remember.

Remember, consistently presented brands are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy excellent brand visibility than those with an inconsistent brand identity.

Discover how the technology communications consultancy of the year can help with your branding, marketing, and PR comms through connected storytelling.

 

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Drew Usher Hotwire

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