Welcome back to the 3 Colours Rule blog! This week, I want to focus on something that I feel gets overlooked when discussions on tech branding are held: tech startup brand positioning.
It probably won’t shock you when I tell you that the tech market is crowded. Like, really crowded. In fact, an estimated 1.35 million tech startups are created every year. That’s an intimidating statistic for any budding tech entrepreneur. Even more intimidating is that, for a variety of reasons, 90% of those startups will fail.
With the market is constantly changing, with new tech startups constantly entering and failed tech startups constantly exiting, it can be really difficult for tech startups to stand out and get noticed by their prospective audience, regardless of which tech space they’re in. When standing out is the name of the game, knowing how to do it better than your competitors can be the difference between graduating from startup to success or joining the 90% that failed to make an impact.
Tech Startup Brand Positioning
Brand positioning is all about creating value by differentiating yourself from competitors. It defines how you’ll be perceived in your customer’s minds, which means that you need to decide how you want to be perceived before you start positioning your brand.
How well your brand is positioned will determine the value that customers place on you, which means before anything else, you need to know your audience and the expectations they have for you. Your brand value ‘sweet spot’ is between what your customers expect from you, and what you do that your competitors don’t.
Lets take a look at a couple of famous examples of competitors who have positioned themselves differently to increase their perceived value:
A great example here is how Apple and Samsung, although they sell very similar products, differ massively in how they position themselves in the market. Where Samsung focuses on appearing trendy and user friendly, Apple’s focus is on the way in which their products will allow their customers to unleash their creative potential. As a result, consumers view these two companies and what their brand represents to them in very different ways.
Another classic example, Nike vs Adidas. In Nike’s case, they want their products to be associated with sports and exercise, with pushing yourself to the limit and ultimately achieving athletic excellence. You can see this reflected in their advertising campaigns:
Now take a look at some of Adidas’ ads for comparison:
Adidas focuses much more on appearing ‘cool’, trendy and fashionable, filling an entirely different niche than Nike.
Sources of Differentiation
Now you’ve got a good idea of the importance of your brand positioning, the next step is understanding the ways in which you can position your brand to stand out from the rest. Differentiation comes from a whole range of places, but the main ones you’ll see in the market are these:
Let’s take a closer look at these sources of differentiation:
An obvious one, but coming into the market with lower prices is an easy way to turn heads. Most startups will be hesitant to go down this road however, as it cuts into their already thin margins.
What do you know that your competitors don’t? What can you do for consumers that they can’t? If you can work that out, you can capitalise on it and draw in customers with your specialities.
Does your product or service have some new and exciting technology? if it does, don’t be afraid to show it off. As the saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it!
Value & Purpose
Going back to the learnings from last weeks blog, do your values and purpose align with your customers’ values in a way that your competitor’s don’t? People love to align themselves with movements and causes, so if you care about the same things as your audience, it can make you seem a lot more attractive.
Offering a unique brand experience, something memorable or never before seen, will immediately set you apart from your competitors. Customers are always on the lookout for something new and different, so why not give it to them!
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but offering even minor improvements to existing products will hugely increase the value of your brand in the eyes of consumers and make your competitors’ products look relatively antiquated.
Opportunities for Differentiation
Positioning and differentiation opportunities can come from a whole range of places so you should be constantly on the lookout for new ways to set yourself apart:
- Complaints and reviews – listen to your feedback, both good and bad, and see if your customers have identified any positioning opportunities for you!
- Market changes – If a competitor drops out of the market, capitalise on it and see if you can fit your brand into their niche to acquire some of their customers.
- Regulatory change – Presenting yourself as fully compliant to government regulation is a great way of standing out as trustworthy.
- Innovation – Keep an eye on your industry and the advancements in technology going on around you. If you can be the first to integrate an exciting new bit of tech into your product, your perceived value will skyrocket.
The important disclaimer with all of this is that you shouldn’t strive to be different just for the sake of being different. It’s important that everything you do to improve your tech startup brand positioning is targeted at providing benefits to your audience and meeting their expectations and desires. Remember, it’s them who define your brand value, not you.
Functional Benefits Vs Emotional Benefits
The benefits you can offer to customers can be broken down into two categories: functional benefits and emotional benefits.
Functional benefits are the tangible things, the look, the feel, the utilities, something you can point to as a positive aspect of a businesses offerings. A technological innovation exclusive to your product would be an example of a functional benefit.
On the other hand, emotional benefits are entirely intangible. they’re the feelings, the inner responses and reactions that you have with a product. The feeling of secureness that a mobile banking app might provide would be an emotional benefit.
As an example, here’s a Nike trainer:
The functional benefits are that it’s a high-technology shoe that will improve athletic performance and provide comfort.
The emotional benefits are that it provides an exhilarating feeling of enhanced athletic performance, and makes you feel engaged, active and healthy.
Nike has met consumers wants and desires with their product and so in turn, consumers have placed a high value on their brand. This has allowed Nike to dominate a large portion of their market, and charge a premium price.
Helping you Develop your Brand Positioning
If you’re unsure where to start with your tech startup brand positioning, fill in the form below and we’ll get in touch to see how we can help you on your tech startup journey.
Next week on the blog, we’re going to look at how brand soul searching can help you create a strong brand foundation. See you then!
3 Colours Rule is a branding and marketing agency specialising in growing tech companies and start-ups. Beyond our brand strategy, design and marketing services; we also have a podcast: Tech Brains Talk where our founder has conversations with experts and entrepreneurs in tech. We also have a branding and marketing academy to support marketers expand their skills and entrepreneurs too. We also run our non-profit organisation, TLA Black Women In Tech, one of the fastest-growing communities for black female professionals and entrepreneurs in tech.