Why Is Branding Essential for a Tech Startup in 2019? 7 important steps

tech startups

In 2018, there where 8671 digital product launches by tech startups on Product Hunt alone. We know that branding your tech company is low down on the agenda when you’re starting out but hopefully in this article, we can convince you that, when the time is right, investing in a brand is a worthwhile decision.

If you’re unfamiliar with what Product Hunt is, it’s a platform for developers and teams to share their latest digfital tech product. Other users can “Upvote” or comment with support or questions on that product. Creators can hope that they receive enough upvotes on their product to hit the top of that day’s leaderboard. To give you an idea of the success of Product Hunt and its importance in the market, Google regularly shares their releases as well as highly influential product-makers.

Standing out as a tech startup is a big problem in this ever-expanding market. Although Product Hunt gives a product the glitz and glamour of being top of a leaderboard, there is very little to suggest that this will ever mean that the product will reach mass-appeal. Product Hunt is by developers for developers and there’s little room for creative expression other than that of the logo and app imagery.

Standing out is where branding comes in. Branding is, in most cases, under the umbrella of marketing. We believe it’s a blend of business strategy and creativity. Branding can not only enhance and improve your tech experience but it can grow your customer base while also driving effective company culture. Tech company branding is a lot more than just your logo, which we’ll get into below.

  1. What is brand in a nutshell?
  2. Why is branding important?
    1. Position in the market
    2. Perceived value
    3. Recognition
    4. More customers and referrals
    5. Engaged employees
    6. Stand out and build trust
    7. Clear direction

What is “brand” in a nutshell?

At its core, branding is a marketing tactic that helps identify you amongst your competitors. This can be done in a variety of ways. With tech branding, you want to leave the potential customer with a clear idea of the promise that you are making to them. That promise can be physical things like – we will make your life easier with our product – or it can be something slightly more intangible.

Take Coke for instance. Instead of selling the drink, Coke promises to sell you the idea of happiness, family or sharing. You want to be the sole provider to a clear solution to your customers problem and your brand gives you a voice to be able to achieve that.

Whatever your promise is, it should be consistent in everything you do. It should be a guiding light to all your marketing efforts but this doesn’t need to be just a fake marketing effort.

Tech company branding is often deeply rooted in the values and ideas of its founders so is often born from genuine beliefs. This should be enough to set you aside from your competitors because although your product might be similar to another tech product, you’re able to eke out the USP (‘Unique Selling Point’) and promise something deeper from these values. It’s important that your customer should feel that promise in the entire customer experience and this can only be achieved through a well-defined brand strategy.

A final point to make is that for your tech brand, and the following points to work, you must understand your customer. Who are you talking to and why? What are their pain points and how do you solve them? Only then, can you build something effective in your efforts.

We have a post on how to develop your tech brand strategy here.

So why is branding important for my tech startup?

Tech branding is so important for many reasons (both internal and external). From an internal perspective, it can help align key stakeholders in the business on why you are building your product or service. It highlights everyone’s understanding and it will mean you are all speaking the same language. The business should be geared towards the same objective so by going through the motions of developing your tech brand, this becomes clear. A great consequence of this is improved company culture – something that is integral to the success of any tech startup.

Position in the market

As mentioned, going through the motions of your brand strategy should identify your position in the market. Shouting about it is your way of standing out and setting yourself apart from the competition. Positioning is integral to standing out so we hold this process highly in a brand strategy workshop. Positioning is a huge topic in itself and when it comes to tech company branding, this is so important.

Perceived value

 A brand with a higher value (from investors etc.) is perceived to be a bigger market player. This allows you more leverage and increased investment opportunities as your brand should represent establishment, confidence and success. If your tech startup can be perceived as valuable, you’re likely to become attractive to investors.

Recognition

As a tech startup, in a sea of competition, recognition is also important. Having an attractive and engaging tech brand is one way to stand out. It’s also another way to remain in the minds of the consumer. Launching a new product becomes easier as the customer will be familiar with your brand. Everyone can recognise Google products when they see them. They all use similar colours and illustration style. It’s important to remember though the visual appeal that Google has is rooted in a powerful branding strategy.

Building tech brand recognition also builds brand equity and so improves the chances that if you seek investment, you’re more likely to appeal to investors. This is because your brand equity is strong and this builds on the value we spoke of previously.

More Customers and referrals

When you engage with your customers (either physically or digitally) you should give them a great service, and believe it or not, by having your tech branding consistently play a part in that process, it’s a way to drive up customer satisfaction. Their impression of your tech startup’s branding is further imprinted in their mind with every successful engagement.

Happy customers also mean you’re likely to get referred as that customer seeks to recruit more into the brand ecosystem (tribe).

Note: A concept called “brand tribalism” also contributes to the fact that raving fans will want to refer their friends. We won’t go into brand tribalism now but it essentially means that customers buy into the feeling it gives them. Sometimes they buy that more than the product itself and this is an important thing to remember with regard to your tech startup branding.

Engaged employees

From the offset, if your tech brand is strong you’re likely to attract a specific kind of employee -hopefully one that aligns with the values you are trying to convey in your branding. When your employees believe in the values themselves and are encouraged they are likely to be proud and become a raving fan of their employer. They will also have a greater sense of belonging which is what we all pine for. They will feel like they are part of something bigger! We know that culture is a huge part of a positive atmosphere so if you have everyone believing in the same thing, you’re going to have a good atmosphere. Happy employees are more engaged, more involved, harder working and stay dedicated to the business for longer than one that isn’t engaged.

Stand out and build trust

Having strong tech branding is a sure-fire way of looking professional, established and legitimate. As a growing tech startup brand, you’re likely to feel a bit of imposter syndrome sometimes and taking on tech giants can be a daunting task. With a strong product paired with a great technology brand, you’ll stand out and build trust within the market. People will be more likely to engage and purchase from you if they trust you and a well-put-together tech brand looks like a well-put-together business. This will lead on to gaining loyal followers and subsequently repeat purchases.

Clear and easy direction

Finally, having a set of brand guidelines and a clear idea of the message your tech startup branding wants to convey is a huge weight off your shoulders. A lot of the heavy lifting has already been done for you allowing you to focus on more important things (the product). Getting the right emotional and visual direction nailed means you can forget about wondering if you’re conveying the right message and trust in the brand working its magic. This in itself is worth thousands in terms of cash as the time saved is phenominal.

So as you can see, having effective branding for tech companies matters so much more than just the appearance of your website or the design of your logo. There are clear benefits to it both internally and externally that you can leverage and utilise so we suggest this being one of the first thing your tech startup addresses early and often. It’s also really important to keep revisiting your tech company’s branding every 6 months not only from a visual perspective but from a business alignment perspective.

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