Australia’s tech scaleups and ASX-listed tech brands are limiting their potential for success by prioritising product and function rather than building brands that connect with people.
It’s not just the brands that are in trouble. The industry-wide focus on product and function-based communications threatens to derail the growth and expansion of the Australian tech economy.
With the nation’s tech industry at a tipping point as it readies to become a key pillar in Australia’s economic future, there is a pressing need for tech companies to elevate their brands quickly to compete on a world stage.
However, in their rush to innovate and mature from startup to scaleup, many tech companies ignore a critical element in their brand and marketing strategies. And this misstep is having a real impact on business outcomes, according to new research conducted by Hotwire Australia and the University of Sydney Business School.
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Branding for business growth
The study examined the use of semiotic codes by tech brands and the patterns of branding at different stages of business growth. It revealed that scaleup and ASX tech brands are limiting their potential business success by failing to incorporate more people-focused branding and marketing strategies.
A look at the world’s most successful tech companies reveals a list of brands that are memorable, distinctive, and meaningful — all as a result of investment in brand and marketing that connects people and products.
Brands such as Apple, Amazon and Intel have built beloved brands by demonstrating the emotional and lifestyle benefits of their products on people’s lives. In doing so, they have elevated the brand in people’s minds.
From brand names to slogans, logos to colour pallets, right through to social media marketing focused on people-centric storytelling, leading brands invest in creating emotional connections with consumers to ensure their relevance and share of mind.
The value in creating emotional connections
On the contrary, the research showed scaleups and ASX listed tech brands opt for descriptive names and logos that represent the product or service, function-focused taglines or slogans, and marketing that focuses on product news, without creating a unique brand story or connecting with the consumer on a human level.
The research found that 75% of scaleups and ASX listed tech brands adopted functional brand taglines instead of more emotive slogans, furthermore no scaleup tech brands communicated any human benefits through their website content at all.
The research then showed that tech brands that employed a combination of product-focused marketing and more emotional, people-centric storytelling created a positive formula to drive growth, as consumers were more likely to seek out information on brands that create emotional connections.
The experimental phase of the study using a fictional brand, proved the most successful combination of brand assets include a descriptive name, the colour green, a curved logo, and emotive tagline, which when combined outscored the average emotional score across real scaleups by 10% and outscored the lowest combinations by 20%.
This finding emphasises that by connecting on a more emotional, human level, tech scaleups can improve their bottom line by increasing consumer intent to find out more by up to 20%.
Ensuring brand stability and longevity
Speed is both the problem and solution for many scaleups, where short-termism is a pre-requisite for growth and survival. However, as brands mature, the shift to building long term strategies – particularly for marketing – is crucial.
While justifying marketing budgets for branding can be challenging, this research has shown that brands that invest in building long-term emotional connections with consumers will ensure greater stability and longevity.
With the tech and innovation industries at the forefront of Australia’s economic future, this research should provide a wake-up call for tech scaleups, to push beyond product and function-led tech marketing with a more balanced approach that combines human stories and connections.