Tech start-ups don't follow the normal rules of branding, says VishnuPriya Mishra

Technology is a part of our lives now. We cannot talk about branding without including technology in it because it plays a major role in connecting the dots between sales, content opportunities and product teams and all of them rely on branding one way or the other.

However, planning the branding and planning the PR for a tech start-up are very different than just talking about the role of tech per se.

To explain it further, let's take the example of one of my clients: an HR Technology start-up Workex.AI. 

What's the brand about?

With Workex, companies can automate the entire sourcing, screening and onboarding processes, reducing this process to a quicker timeline. Workex can also help source, screen and filter eligible candidates directly from any digital channel like WhatsApp, Social Media or even job boards.

Over a period of time, the platform aims to provide employment security, benefits and growth to the workforce.

The brand purpose highlights the scale of operations and touch points are multiple for a brand like this, so branding and PR have to keep the following 3 basics in mind. The positioning is far beyond just talking about tech:

Role of the brand in customer experience 

Branding is no longer the “supporting system” here. It becomes the core driver of the overall customer experience. As they say, good branding doesn't guarantee a good customer experience, but there isn’t much chance of creating a good customer experience without it.

Understand the audience to customise PR strategy 

Knowing who your customers are is equally important. At Workex, our audience ranges from a CHRO to a hiring manager to job seekers (the last is mostly millennials). 

All these groups are critical in their own ways. This means reaching all of these audiences across multiple touch points which again requires a different approach. It’s no longer sufficient to have one message in one format; that doesn’t work any more. And on top of the message, you have to take into account that each of this audience segment prefers to consume content in so many different ways.

For example, a millennial would love to see a job ad popping up on his social timeline, but a recruiter would be more interested in real life use-case scenarios.

Get the brand story right

Lastly and the most critical factor is “getting the story right”. Why you bothered to get the product to the market, the change it brings around, the obstacle the product is trying to overcome and the breakthrough impact it creates. Constant attention has to be paid to deliver this story right in varied formats.

While we cannot ignore these 3 basics, one thing that I have experienced & learned over time is “Strategies can go from cool to critical at any point in time for start-ups.”

 For example, although the product deploys Machine Learning, every time we have tried using a lot of technical jargon in our communication to the users of the product ) it has not worked very well. As a brand marketer one has to constantly learn and unlearn. The whole can become less than the sum of its parts without any logical explanation as well. 

The consumers are always more interested in engaging with content that inspires them, helps them or expresses their point of view for that matter. 

The strategy becomes audience specific then. Plus as you realise this, you also go back to the fundamental rule which is to know thy audience well, understand their requirements and then deploy your strategies accordingly. As they say, you have to build the plane, understand the nuances of flying and fly at the same time.

One always has to remember big and life-changing brand stories are often best told in small and specific ways. And with time the smallest story leads to your bigger story. Interesting, right?

VishnuPriya Mishra is a brand marketing and communications consultant. Her past experience includes working with clients like Burger King, FreeCharge, Xbox India and Luminous Power Technologies.

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