Tech start-ups: Don’t push disruption at the cost of your B2B brand
Early-stage tech companies, especially in the B2B space, exist in a world with lots of noise, because of the current market’s race for disruption over creating sustainable brands. This can lead startups to believe disruption is their market position and value proposition.
Before you became a thing, did you define a sustainable market position and value proposition that was meaningful and defensible? If not, there is risk that your disruption is replaced by a newer disruptive idea and your opportunity goes away, together with your brand. What then?
What is B2B branding in early stage tech?
Branding might be more important in B2B tech than any other industry because you’re working with complex products that offer fresh – sometimes radical – unfamiliar solutions. You’re trying to shake up the world your customers know. They need to know you understand their business so they can begin to trust. And it is rarely about tech! They need to relate your solution to their business pain/need. Therefore, complex, innovative solutions demand clarity. That clarity explains your business as much as it does your brand.
To deliver, define your brand with three goals in mind:
- Describe where you fit in the market and their business
- Solve the customer need with your unique value proposition
- Differentiate from your most logical competitors
Remember, in tech you’re either replacing an existing piece of software or an existing process. You must overcome both customer reluctance to spend and their reluctance to change. So, engage in a thoughtful branding exercise which tackles each of those 3 pillars. Promote innovation, but keep it adaptive to allow for flexibility in solving tomorrow’s problems too.
Always come back to the customer
Connect everything to your customer, the people that keep the lights on. They matter most. We want to reiterate what Marty Neumeier said: “A brand is not owned by the company, but by the customers who draw meaning from it.” Customers create your brand. Connect with them by helping them where they need it first and foremost, and in so doing earn their trust to solve other problems they may have.
Tech solves human problems first
Tech, especially B2B startups, can sometimes subordinate mission or purpose, because they’re focused on the technology.
If you’re solving a technical problem—we make it easier to integrate your CRM and sales orders—then your target is a process, not the people running it. You’re talking just about a % gain, not what it means to the customer. This positioning means that your company and service is as valuable as anything else that delivers the same % gain. Now, it’s you versus numerous other would-be competitors.
But, if you focus on what your tech solves for the people involved, you have a better chance of standing out and seeing velocity in your sales cycles. Buyers, whether it’s a new mobile application or a multi-million dollar cloud platform, make a purchase based on trust, safety, and reliability. These are emotions masquerading as reasoned, practical elements. They’re gut feelings.
For B2B brand counts, not a clever name
If you jump over to Google and look for tech like task management services that have launched since Q2 2019, you’ll find a lot of clever names, puns, and quirky ways to spell related terms. Companies can spend a lot of time and money on these names, but they don’t mean a thing if there’s not a strong brand behind it. Slack is a dominant workforce chat solution because it works with a wide range of other options, it’s very user-friendly, and it starts off free. Easy. Useful. Affordable. Those three attributes are about the brand, not just the name, and they all come back to the emotional connection.
That’s what brand does. Brand and its promise is what gets people to adopt you initially. The tech is an enabler for your brand promise and disruption, but what does it mean to your customers?
Brand is what B2B tech start-ups must build to fully capitalize on their disruption. It’s some of the most important work that tech startups often overlook. So, give yourself a competitive advantage by having a winning brand that builds traction from the word “go” and to get started with GrowthShift, experts in the B2B tech branding space.
GrowthShift is a boutique marketing and strategy consultancy focused on positioning and launching growth-phase technology companies. Experts at launching new and re-imagined brands, GrowthShift executes and delivers a marketing and brand strategy unique to your company’s market, product, competition and customers and fundamental to your capital and growth strategy. Unlike traditional agencies or marketing/brand strategy providers, GrowthShift focuses on the launch and provides a tightly integrated execution of the marketing & brand strategy required for long-term growth. Visit https://growthshift.com to learn more about positioning your company for growth.
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