Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Blue is the new beige: Research shows Australian startup branding is a bit boring

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Shreya Christina
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Australian tech company branding is predictable and lackluster compared to global competitors, according to a first-of-its-kind study of the use of semiotic codes by local tech brands.

The report, ‘Decode technical brands‘, a collaboration between the University of Sydney Business School and market consultancy Hotwire Global, found that tech scale-ups and ASX-listed tech brands are over-reliant on functional branding and marketing strategies.

Upscaling technology brands do not stand out from the crowd, 50% adopt the color blue, while 50% use logo images to visually represent the function of their product. In our view, the combination does not provide a distinctive character in the battle for consumer attention Dr Stacey Brennanco-principal investigator and associate professor of marketing at Sydney Uni’s Business School.

dr. Brennan understanding the semiotics of a brand can deliver a range of incremental gains impacting the top and bottom lines and there is a huge opportunity for Australian scale-ups to leverage the power of brand building for their success in the long-term.

“The survey provided strong evidence that there are important lessons for technology companies at all levels, whether they are startups, scale-ups or established players, to better use and build their brands,” she said.

“It’s really valuable to forge partnerships that invest in discovering how the technology sector can interact more with marketing practices and ultimately enable stronger business decisions for one of the key growth engines of our economy.”

Function over emotion

When analyzing scale-ups and ASX-listed tech brands, the researchers found that 75% used functional brand taglines and slogans, compared to only 18% of global high-performing non-tech brands using the same approach. The other 82% use emotional slogans.

dr. Brennan said that by connecting on a more emotional, human level, tech scaleups can improve their bottom line by increasing consumer intent to learn by up to 20%.

Meanwhile, the study found that 43% of tech scale-ups in the analysis use Functional Naming constructs – these describe their product function or characteristic. In contrast, zero-tech brands have adopted Experiential Naming strategies, which emphasize human benefits over product function.

The experimental phase of the study, using a fictitious Buy Now, Pay Later brand, tested on 1,500 people, proved to be the most successful combination of brand assets, including a descriptive name, the color green, a curved logo, and a emotional slogan, which in combination exceeded the average. emotional score on real scale-ups by 10% and scored 20% higher than the lowest combinations.

Co-lead researcher and Hotwire Australia Brand Strategy Director Drew Usher said the study found that tech scaleups are focusing on traditional and rational ways to communicate their brand.

“Branding is a powerful yet underrated tool by most tech scale-ups who prioritize product over brand. Finding a balance between function and emotion in brand communication is a huge opportunity,” he said.

“For example, if a scale-up were to change certain levers within its brand toolkit, people’s interest could increase by 20%. By understanding the nuances of the brand design process and how visual and verbal cues complement each other, scaleups can positively influence perception and unlock a range of incremental gains to take advantage of long-term growth and stability along their journey.”

The companies surveyed were scale-ups (funded by Series B/C) and ASX-listed tech brands, global high-performance tech brands, and global high-performance non-tech brands.

You can download the Decoding Tech Brands Report Here


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