Branding for tech start-ups. Luxury or a must?
“In the digital world, companies without
branding have no future.”
Andy Stalman, brand strategist, author BrandOffOn
One of the biggest, yet totally comprehensible mistakes, in early start-up building is a flawed or no work on the brand strategy. The result is that many start-up projects (especially those by the tech guys with out-of-the box ideas that can potentially change the future), often end up overlooked and cannot get their idea off the ground, due to hollow branding, home-made graphics and above all, inconsistency in brand presentation and messaging.
Brand strategy is not something you derive from your product “later“ - it must be the foundation of your business strategy and your product value, communication and company culture. You should always stick to the values you define at the start.
This is very important especially for tech start-ups. You must be absolutely clear on all your strategic landmarks, before you actually spend money on development.
This can be achieved by a solid preparatory strategic work that will help shaping the company product, culture and communication in a long run. At this stage, competition and consumer data analysis, customer journey research and brand positioning strategy, brand purpose and core values must be explored and defined.
All this will establish a firm navigation for the business creators along their path to creating meaningful products and brands.
“14% of start-up businesses fail due to not
having the right marketing and brand image.”
- CB Insights, 2019
Why do you need a branding strategy?
Many tech company founders and CEOs rely on a detailed list of their product features and benefits, but forget one important step: Distilling their brand proposition to a single, compelling one sentence concept. This „elevator pitch proposal“ should be at the core of the business strategy since it shapes the decisions regarding product design and development, business policies, marketing communication, targeting and the consumer experience.
A business with clear branding strategy incorporating the brand DNA and its marketing effort will always have a far greater pull factor as compared to a pure push sales-driven organization. The creation of a strong brand identity and its implementation across all touchpoints is an absolute priority. It should be treated as the most necessary activity, as important as the next CEO hiring effort.
Brand strategy should be treated
as a core foundation activity.
So, no, brand is really NOT a logo. Consistent branding establishes the very core of your brand strategy, the tone, the communication strategy, the goals. It embodies your unique characteristics and differentiation your customers will recognize at every step of interaction with your brand. And that contact comes long before they first try your products or even start considering it. User experience is brand experience. Emotional connection of your brand with the customers is a key element for earning their trust and loyalty.
Branding based on well defined brand strategy helps your company to
- attract investors
- help building customer's trust
- Make your business more memorable and recognizable for customers
- Improves your advertising and content consistency
- Makes your employees happier (and saves hiring and salary cost)
- Creates loyal customers (and increases profitability)
43% of customers spend more
money on brands they feel loyal to.
It seems natural that big brands like Apple have a firm place in the consumer's mind. And it now seems obvious how they have etched their brand image and the company values into your brain with every piece of communication, advertising, packaging, and service. Yes, they have great products. But their success was secured by their long-term commitment to a strategy with a clearly defined corporate purpose, defined values and company culture that guide all their market-facing activities.
Take for example much younger companies like Uber or Airbnb. From the outset, each of these companies clearly defined their vision and mission (or their goal and the road to it), identified their target customers’ unmet needs, and made sure every single consumer touchpoint supported and communicated their brand promise and values. In just a few years, the brands became iconic from the point of view of brand recognition. And what is more important, the brand values are clearly recognized by the consumers. Of course, they also provide a great service, but when they have faced adversity, the strong brand values helped them through difficult times.
Maintaining the brand equity and trust of the customers and investors during hard times is one of the pay-backs of strong brand strategy and consistent branding.
Check how we incorporated the brand values into the visual identity and branding for the hottest Czech start-up, topite.cz and a year later rebranded it to service platform Woltair targeting all European countries. The brand has taken several rounds of seed investment and the growth is unstoppable.
The covid era made a sharp slash and sifted the companies with and without established branding in a digital world. It also pushed enormously fast growth in innovation of products and services. But it also overwhelmed customers by the new variety of choices. That is why the new digital „supermarkets“ offering and categorizing the consumer products into comprehensible chunks are so successful. This underlines the necessity to have a strong brand for consumer products even more.
Many start-up owners concentrate
their efforts on developing their product,
but postpone the decision to work with
professionals on branding and communication.
How important is branding when it comes to digital tech solutions in a B2B setting? Every start-up believes they have the best solution, so the potential customers must clearly recognize the value. Wrong! Your potential client does not want to go through a 1500-page presentation of spreadsheets demonstrating the benefits your solution delivers. The simplicity and clarity of your idea's presentation, that's the brand identity - the shopping window into your product. A company with a defined brand and strategy is perceived to be more professional, efficient and trustworthy.
First impression matters.
This is how our brain works. We need quick solutions. We love or we hate or (worse) we remain untouched. The power of your branding is the key element that wins or loses you clients, investors and… money. The branding effort that consistently delivers your values, your message and your benefits, compressed in a multisensory user experience is what makes or breaks companies, wins investors and keeps clients engaged.
Here is an example of how we helped create a strong brand identity and shaped the image of a start-up to be fit for international competition. The successful Czech start-up GuideVision.eu attracted the IT giant Infosys one year after rebranding, selling for 30 mil EUR.
If you feel overwhelmed, give us a call. We build brands from the scratch 24/7.
Founder & Creative Director