How to Brand for Technical People

Branding is important. While you need to get it right so you attract the right users to your application, you do not need it to be perfect!

As developers or technical founders, we’re not often gifted with the ability to produce something that is visually appealing. What we do know is how to build amazing products that DO amazing things. Unfortunately, to build an App or software product that will gain traction, it also needs to look good and be easy to use!

Seems we may have a problem here. So, you're great at making the product but not making it look good? In that case, I propose that you follow the steps I’ve outlined to make sure your amazing product gets the recognition it deserves.

It is startup ‘legend’ that:

"A good brand is worth more than a good project"

"You need to be specific, deliberate and concise with your branding, you have one go at getting your launch right"

I agree that branding is important. However, I disagree that you only have one chance at it. Ultimately, the reality is that companies 'pivot' all the time. This can be either a pivot on the product offering or a pivot in the branding.

When you are first starting, you need to understand that you are not a big deal to many people.  A lot of people don't know you exist and they won't know you exist for a long time. With that in mind, stressing about what your product initially looks like is not worth the extra time. I propose developing both your product and brand with the Pareto Principle (or the 80/20 rule as it is sometimes known) in mind.

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule, states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the cause. In other words 20% of your time will result in 80% of the outcome and the last 20% of the outcome will take 80% of your time. Branding can have an infinite number of iterations but so long as the brand covers the main aspects of your company, just go with it and you can always pivot later (We will show you some real examples of this too).

What is branding?

A brand is a feature or set of features that differs your organisation from others. It is made up of a variety of different aspects but is usually just attributed to the name, logo and tagline of the company. However there are many more aspects you need to consider. The aspects of an app’s brand that you will need to consider are the following:

  1. Logo
  2. Colour
  3. Name
  4. Style - image, graphics, icons, illustrations
  5. Font - style, UPPERCASE, lowercase, Sentence Case

The biggest influences on what type of branding you choose are; the audience, the current trends and your own personal style. At the end of the day, this business is an extension of you and your beliefs so your branding should reflect who you are.

Address your Audience

It is absolutely vital to address your audience with your branding. For example, if your app is a game aimed towards children, you would brand it with fun, vibrant colours and rely heavily on pictures and animations, rather than dull colour schemes and wordy sections of text.

To figure out who your audience is, you’ll need to do some significant research. Find out where your audience is coming from. Are they a younger demographic finding you through social media? Or are they primarily finding you through organic searches of your website?

Once you have figured out who your audience is, use psychological research to determine what branding appeals to that demographic. There are a variety of resources you can use to do this such as: 

  • Colour charts
  • Research papers 
  • Census data
  • Psychology based articles

If you fall into the same demographic as your target audience (ie. you’re building an app to solve a problem you have faced), then go with branding that you like. The chances are that like-minded people will also appreciate similar colour schemes and wording styles as you.

Define the Why

A lot of technical people who start companies fall into the bad habit of simply stating what it is they do across all of their branding. It is critical you delve deeper when finding your key message. You have to define why you exist and what your motivation is. 

Imagine if Apple used “We sell high quality tech products” as their slogan instead of the iconic “Think Different”. Their “why” was to challenge what was already on the market and create a whole new way of thinking when it came to tech products, so this is what they decided to create their brand around. 

If you would like further information on how to define your why, we recommend you should read about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory here (https://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/online-value-proposition/start-with-why-creating-a-value-proposition-with-the-golden-circle-model/) and watch his enlightening TED talk on this subject.

Visual Assets

If you find yourself struggling to determine what your visual style will be, whether it’s finding the right type of logo or what graphics to use on your app, simply follow the trends. Look to your biggest competitors and market leaders in the field, what are they doing? You can also use tools such as Google Trends and SEMrush to discover what successful companies are using for their brand.

If you’ve found that your branding is outdated or ineffective, don’t be afraid to pivot and create all new branding. This may seem daunting but it can make an immense difference in the success of your app. Some examples of effective branding pivots are:

  1. Apple’s extensive logo evolution
  2. BackRub changing to Google
  3. Brad’s drink changing to Pepsi
  4. Blue ribbon sports changing to Nike
  5. AuctionWeb changing to eBay

If all else fails and you are really stuck with your branding, hire someone! There are agencies, such as us at Digital Basis, that specialise in developing the branding of your idea and will work closely with you to bring your vision to fruition. You can contact us here(LINK) and we will partner with you to create the perfect brand for your idea. 

Final thoughts

Stop thinking of a business as a static snapshot in time. A business is in every way a living and evolving creature. Stop worrying about what the first version is going to be called or what colour the buttons should be. Just start out with what you feel is right (based on scientific evidence when possible) and make changes later.

Just go out and start creating!