Tech Start-ups: Don’t Push Disruption at the Cost of Your B2B Brand

b2b tech startup disruption growthshift phoenix austin

Early-stage B2B tech companies exist in a noisy world due to the current market’s race for disruption over creating sustainable brands. This can lead startups to believing 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 a risk your disruption will be replaced by a newer disruptive idea and your opportunity goes away — as does your brand. 

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 disrupt 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. 

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Differentiate your B2B tech startup
(before your competition does it for you):

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:

  1. Describe where you fit in the market and their business
  2. Solve the customer need with your unique value proposition
  3. Differentiate from your most logical competitors 

Answer these questions for your business. Remember, in tech you’re either replacing an existing piece of software or an existing process, and Microsoft is a formidable competitor! You must overcome both the client’s reluctance to spend and to change. Here are three strong ways to accomplish that:

Always Come Back to the Customer

 “A brand is not owned by the company, but by the customers who draw meaning from it,” — Marty Neumeier Brand Flip

Customers create your brand. Connect with them by helping them solve their biggest pain point, and earn their trust to solve other problems.  Connect everything to your customer, the people that keep your lights on. They matter most.

Salesforce bought Slack for $27 billion in 2020 . . .

. . . a strong argument for brand clarity.

Tech Solves Human Problems First

Tech, especially B2B tech startups, often focus on their technology rather than their mission.

If you’re solving a technical problem (example: we make it easier to integrate your CRM and sales orders) then your target is a process, not the people running it. This messaging is dangerous -  your product/service becomes only as valuable as anything else that solves the same technical problem. 

But, if you focus on what your tech solves for the customers (example: simplify your sales process, connect with customers faster and increase sales), you have a better chance of standing out and seeing velocity in your sales cycles. 

Remember, buyers make purchase decisions fundamentally based on trust - trust that your solution solves their problem. Get there faster, and make it easy for them to buy!

For B2B, Brand Counts, Not a Clever Name 

Search Google for task-management solutions, and you’ll find a lot of clever names, and quirky ways to spell related terms. Companies can spend a lot of time and money on these names, but they don’t pay off without a strong brand behind it:

b2b tech branding disruption growthshift phoenix austin

Tools with clever, quirky names, but does their branding pay off?

By contrast, Slack is a dominant messaging application. It promises a new way to communicate, faster than email, more focused than chat. Clear, easy, and affordable (free). Those three attributes are about the brand, not just the name, and they all come back to the emotional connection. And yea — Salesforce bought Slack for $27 billion in 2020 — a strong argument for brand clarity. 

That’s what brand does. Brand (and its promise) is what encourages people to adopt you initially. Brand is what B2B tech start-ups must build to fully capitalize on their disruption. 

The tech is merely an enabler for your brand promise & disruption . . . 

. . .  but what does it mean to your customers? Start there, and make it easy to understand, trust and therefore buy. 

Get Your Competitive Positioning Audit

Differentiate your B2B tech startup
(before your competition does it for you):