Branding is vital for any business — especially for companies in tech.
Complex technology, fast product lifecycles and major competition all mean it’s not just about what you sell — it’s also about what your customers feel when they see your business. Your brand values and what your company stands for can be just as important as the quality of your company’s offerings.
These six tips are some of the most important for tech businesses wanting to build a strong brand.
1) Start With Your Brand Definition
To successfully build your brand, you need to really understand your business. That’s not just the basic facts, like what you sell or which problem you want to solve. You also need to know the values you want your company to embody and what you want to stand for.
If you can establish your branding basics, you’ll have an easier time figuring out the rest. This includes your company’s aesthetics, logo or colors.
2) Know Your Audience
If you’ve already been in business for some time, you probably have some idea of what your brand is. Your customers also have their own ideas. Market research and surveys can show you the values people associate with your brand — whether that’s something like commitment to service, vitality and agility, sustainability or professionalism.
Your ideal and actual audiences may not line up — just like your personal idea of the company and how your customers really see you don’t always mesh.
Research is essential to building a strong brand because you can’t appeal to an audience you don’t know.
Flexibility is important here. You’ll want to use the information you gather to strike a balance between targeting new audiences and appealing to your current customer base. This will be the best way to build a brand without alienating your established clientele.
3) Know When to Adapt
Big tech companies have some major advantages over smaller businesses and startups when it comes to branding. They typically have a lot more money to spend on advertising, and their marketing departments are often well-equipped. They usually have years of experience working with a particular audience and line of products.
However, younger brands have one big advantage — adaptability. The fewer employees you have, the more tightly knit your marketing team. The less-developed your brand identity, the easier it will be to stay agile in your marketing.
You can adjust your brand’s look on the fly and rapidly integrate new information about how your audience is responding. You can also tweak branding to reflect partnerships with other businesses or show off a new product launch.
In general, larger companies can’t do this — or, at least, will be a lot more reluctant to do so. These businesses have spent years and millions of dollars building a consistent brand image. They’re naturally going to be a lot more cautious. Therefore, you can outmaneuver them with clever marketing and a willingness to adapt to shifting customer preferences.
The fast-moving nature of the tech world means that “adapt or die” also applies to your marketing. Your products may be experimental or cutting-edge. There may not be a clear path forward for how you sell your offerings, even if you’re sure there’s a market for them.
Being ready to rapidly iterate and rethink your marketing approach is a good plan for smaller businesses in general. For those in tech, regardless of size, it’s even better advice. This is one of the best ways to figure out how you can sell those products.
4) Take Advantage of New Advertising Tech
Cutting-edge advertising technology can be a major advantage when building your brand.
Billboards and static signage, for example, are effective advertising tools, even for tech companies. However, LED or digital signs with animation or interactive elements are even better. They may beat out digital ads, too.
One study found that an extra 17% of customers who saw digital signs went on to engage with a brand, compared to those who saw ads on their mobile device.
Integrating advanced tech, like digital signs, can help you take advantage of offline channels, which some tech companies neglect. Striking a balance between online and offline marketing strategies can also ensure you reach your audience through all available channels. Coordinating both digital and physical advertising can also help keep a multichannel marketing approach consistent.
5) Break Down Complex Topics
Depending on your tech business, there may be a fairly substantial knowledge gap between your developers, marketing team and customer base.
For example, you could be selling a fully automated platform or solution with features like AI, natural language processing and big data analytics. Technical audiences may get what these terms mean right away. They may know you’re offering improved data analysis and a UI that can work with requests written in plain English.
The average customer, on the other hand, may just get lost. While American tech knowledge is improving overall, many consumers still don’t understand common tech concepts — like how two-factor authentication works or the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.
Emphasizing benefits like speed, convenience and ease of use can be just as important as specifying the tech and tools you offer. These can also be easier to represent in the abstract, such as with colors, shapes and word choice.
6) Always Be Moving
Your company’s identity will never be completely static. In the same way you always want to be striving to capture new audiences and offer better products, your branding also must evolve.
It’s a good practice to make soliciting feedback and branding research a normal part of your marketing workflows. If possible, you can also invest in technology that makes it easy to understand what people think about your brand and the values they associate with your work.
If you keep moving and updating your brand, you’re less likely to get stuck or find that your idea of what your company stands for has become outdated over time.
How Tech Businesses Can Brand for Success
Good branding can help your tech company stand out from the crowd. Tweaks to brand colors, logos and word choices help you communicate what your company stands for and may even make it simpler to break down the complicated tech behind your products.
These branding tips can provide a strong foundation for any company, no matter what kind of tech it’s trying to sell.
Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, DesignRoast.org, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.