With today’s highly competitive and overcrowded tech business landscape, it’s getting increasingly difficult to stand out from the competition and build a unique and trustworthy brand image. Branding has become a challenge for many technology companies and if you’re reading this, chances are you’re also struggling to establish your brand identity, image, and voice.
Why has branding become such a hot topic?
Figures are indicative. The majority of customers would opt for buying from a familiar brand and 77% prefer buying from brands that share their values. Eight in ten customers point at their ability to trust a brand as the main factor determining their buying decision, and almost half of them would even spend more purchasing from such a company.
And a strong and distinct identity is key to brand awareness and recognition, and ultimately, to building trust. Reportedly, 77% of B2B marketers consider building a strong brand as key to business growth.
With all these figures in mind, we're perfectly aware that branding is not a matter of choice. But why is it so hard for tech businesses to build a consistent and recognizable brand appealing to consumers? Read on to find out the most common branding challenges technology companies experience nowadays.
Let’s get started by answering the fundamental question…
What is technology branding?
Tech branding is the process of developing an appealing and recognizable brand identity for a company. It can also refer to the process of building a specific identity for an individual product or service within an existing brand. Branding comes to embrace all digital products of a tech business, such as its website and app.
It involves analyzing the target audience and developing a visual language that can be used across all platforms and channels. So, when people see your brand anywhere – on a billboard, in an Instagram post, or on their phone – they immediately recognize it. Tech branding includes:
- A logo, which is the most effective brand identifier recognized by three-quarters of consumers.
- A color palette, which is an essential element of brand identity. You may be surprised that 78% of consumers would remember the primary color of a company’s logo, and only almost half of this percentage would remember the name of the brand.
- A branding slogan, which is a short phrase that concentrates the essence of a brand, its values, and its mission.
- A set of fonts, which is another vital element of a brand’s visual identity. Choice of text style is essential for the way a brand is perceived by consumers.
- Typography, which involves arranging the text in an easy-to-digest, appealing, and compelling way.
When selected and blended properly, all these facets create a consistent and impactful visual identity that speaks for the brand and sticks in consumers’ minds. Think of the tech giants Apple, for instance. The simple and stylish iconic logo evokes a whole myriad of associations and is easily recognizable.
Visual consistency prevails with the color scheme and font selection. Clear, with no excess and overindulgence, the visual identity of Apple stands for style, reliability, sheer luxury, and credibility.
The same goes for their slogan “Think different.” It’s straightforward, clear, and catchy and expresses the essence of the company’s values, resonating with the eternal quest for uniqueness and individuality.
Why is branding important for tech companies?
Gone are the days of faceless impersonal brands that just offer products. Therefore, branding is vital. It is giving your business a face, a voice, and a personality. It determines what your brand will mean to consumers. It’s a way to communicate your message – who you are, what you believe in, what you do, and how you do it. What makes you different and unique? Branding should reflect all these aspects and details and help people remember you.
Let’s summarize the major benefits of branding for your tech company:
- You can establish your visual image, voice, and identity and set yourself apart from all other competitors in your niche.
- It boosts brand awareness and makes your business recognizable to more people.
- Branding sets the right expectations in your customers.
- It can enhance transparency and thus build trust and loyalty with your customers.
- Your business gains exposure, which ultimately translates into improved advertising efforts.
- Branding builds value within your organization as well, making your employees feel part of a team.
Now that you have a clearer picture of what branding is and why it’s essential for every technology brand, let’s look at the common pitfalls you’re likely to run into.
Why is tech branding challenging?
We’ll focus on the challenges experienced by B2C tech companies targeting consumers instead of other businesses or organizations.
1. It's all about the look
First impressions are everything. It only takes a visitor 50 milliseconds, or 0.05 seconds, to form an opinion about your website. It's important to get your branding right because it helps people understand what your business is about and what you stand for. The look of a brand is the first thing people see when they visit your website or business card and it can make or break the deal.
2. Branding for tech companies is hard because it's so technical
As a tech brand, you already know that your products are technical in nature. But what you may not realize is that this technicality can make it difficult to articulate your message and build a brand strategy.
How can you translate all highly technical information about your products, features, and operations into a language that will be understood by consumers? How can you make your points compelling and impactful through design, typology, and colors? These questions are vital for every technology brand.
Another challenge is the constant evolution and updating typical for tech products. Branding for new technologies isn't easy because it has to figure out how people feel about something they don't know well yet. It’s highly demanding for you, and it's hard for consumers to keep up with all of the different features and functions. If they have trouble understanding what your product does, they're less likely to become loyal customers.
This calls for the joint efforts of creatives, such as writers and graphic designers on one hand, and techies, on the other hand. They’ll be able to dress your unique value proposition in the visual and verbal expression that will work best for your target audiences. Combining their knowledge, skills, and approaches, all these professionals will be able to craft your message in an understandable and effective way.
3. Tech branding needs to be very visual, which is a potential obstacle for a lot of technical people
As a tech person, you are an outstanding expert in solving problems. However, communicating your ideas and solutions to non-tech-savvy audiences is another cup of tea. The best way I've found is presenting data visually. And knowing what visual elements and fonts work better for your target audience and why is still another level of communication.
So, communication is not just about understanding each other. It's also about being able to explain what we do in a way that makes sense to people outside our field of expertise. When we're writing copy for our websites or creating collateral for new products, we have to translate what we do into terms that make sense outside of our industry. And, if you have tried doing it yourself too, you know it can be difficult, which brings us to the next point.
4. Visualizing data requires a combination of skills from both tech professionals and creatives
Data visualization blends art and science into one unified product. From the tech side, you need to be able to visualize data and think about it in terms of images, charts, and graphs. Visualizations that require complex mapping of data can be more easily done by designers because they have more experience with artistic elements like color, texture, and typography. However, tech experts may be able to manipulate the data better in order to create better visualizations based on what they know about their customers' needs as well as trends in their industry.
On the creative side, you need to understand how to make people feel emotionally connected to your brand. You need to be able to tell stories that resonate with your audience so that they connect with what you're trying to say.
Conceptualization of ideas around visuals should ideally come from both sides – creatives and techies. Designers need input on what kind of visualizations will work best for their brands while techies need feedback on how their products fit into those concepts. But it's not always easy for them to collaborate effectively due to the different skill sets required for each role.
5. Tech companies need a unique, innovative, and authentic brand to stand out from the pack
Whether a start-up or an established company, a technology brand needs to differentiate itself from the crowd of competitors. This is where superior branding comes into play, focusing on four key areas to create a prominent and memorable brand image:
- Innovation: Branding that brings something new and different into the marketplace, be it a feature/product or an experience/service.
- Creativity: Building a unique and appealing visual image is one of the most effective ways to captivate your audiences. Thinking outside of the box and coming up with original brave visual ideas can go a long way in helping technology brands stand out, attract new audiences, and connect with potential customers.
- Authenticity and honesty: The vast majority of consumers identify authenticity and honesty as key for forming an attitude and relationships with a brand. An effective brand strategy is about determining a company's values, mission, and identity, and communicating them through the brand’s image and personality. This will help develop meaningful and true relationships with customers based on trust, understanding, shared values, and experiences.
- Consistency: Brand consistency relates to communicating a uniform image, values, and visions across all channels. This helps your customers remember your brand and is perceived as trustworthiness and reliability.
6. Branding takes up resources that most tech startups lack
Opting for hiring a creative digital agency to do the work of branding and marketing is a strategy we highly recommend as it will streamline your efforts and help you get away with much fewer headaches. However, for many startups, hiring an agency exceeds budget limitations. In this case, there are two alternatives: figure out how to build their brand on your own or hire a freelancer who already knows how to do it.
Whatever strategy you opt for, building a brand takes time and money. And most startups are short of these two resources and have a short runway before they have to show progress. Startups don't have time. Because branding is a distraction from getting their product to the market, startups tend to put it off until they can afford it. They often operate on a tight budget and need to focus on getting their product out as soon as possible, which makes branding particularly challenging.
7. Many tech companies are often reluctant to invest in branding until they're more established
The tech industry is a competitive one, and many companies don't want to invest in branding in the early stages of a company's life while they're still building their product. However, branding later down the road can become even more challenging.
First of all, if your company doesn't have a strong brand identity, it's difficult to attract talent and investors to secure the growth of your ideas and the development of your products. Also, it will be difficult for customers to remember what you do or why they should choose you over another company offering similar products or services.
Branding is important because it helps you stand out from the crowd and connect with your customers. It can also provide an emotional appeal. So, the earlier you start branding, the greater your chances to achieve your business goals.
Time to build your brand identity
Tech brands are more than just online stores. They’re a community. They’re personalities. They’re a way of life. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to create something that resonates in people's hearts and minds to the point where they become loyal fans who will be around for years to come. But it can be done!
Here are some things you should think about when you're creating your tech brand:
- Tell a story. People love good stories, so why not tell them yours? What was your business journey like? What obstacles did you face along the way? How did those experiences shape who you are today? Being transparent and human will help you build genuine relationships with your customers.
- Create a consistent identity. Be you on every platform you present your brand. To stick in your customers’ minds, you have to identify your brand self and stick to it. Build your brand image, select your color pallet, branding fonts, visual style, voice, and tone. These are the identifiers that your audience will recognize wherever they come across you, your message, or your products.
- Leverage the power of professional expertise and experience. Having a professional on your side will allow you to build your branding strategy and avoid dealing with your branding blindfolded. A little help on time can save you from lots of stress, hassles, and overspending down the road.
It's not easy to create a successful brand for tech companies. It takes time, money, and a lot of people with different skills working together. But if you want to stand out in today's crowded market, it's worth the effort.