Marketing High Tech by Finding Your Brand’s Soul

Three ways to breathe meaning into your high-tech company’s communications

Over a decade ago, Adweek interviewed Laurence Knight, Unilever brand consultant, who said brands that want to thrive—especially in a more digital world—must be able to define their soul. Remarkably, that advice is as relevant today as it was then.

While the article focused mainly on retail brands, one of Knight’s examples of a brand with soul was Google, which positions itself as a helper in the digital universe. Two decades of world-changing successes are reason enough for high-tech brands to follow Google’s lead.

Here are three ways to find your high-tech brand’s soul and improve your approach to marketing:

  1. Stop Being Brand-centric

If your company’s marketing communications all revolve around what’s great about your brand, you’re missing the boat on soulful selling. High tech brands with soul remove themselves from the center of their own attention and instead align with their customers’ interests and values.

Brand-centric companies often (and usually inadvertently) shoulder their way into people’s lives to promote their products and services without considering whether or not they are welcome. Companies that act with soul are connected to their customers on a daily basis, so they have something to add to the conversations that customers want to hear. There is no need for soulful brands to hijack a platform or network in order to get people’s attention. Soulful brands are not just welcome, they are invited. Often, they are even the host.

  1. Have a Purpose

Purposeful brands work towards something greater than their own bottom line. They define themselves by their internal culture and values, not by the products and services they provide. This gives those outside of the company something to relate to, and it gives those inside of the company something to be proud of.

In this video about the IBM brand, Jon Iwata, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications says, “We don’t try to manage the IBM brand. We try to manage our character as a business. And we’ve never defined IBM by what we’re selling.”

That is marketing with soul.

  1. Connect with Your Community

Coca-Cola offers a great example of a brand that connects to the community in all the right ways. The soul of Coca-Cola is making the world a happier place, so the company focuses on sponsoring events that make people happy. Coca-Cola has had sponsorships with American Idol, iTunes, BET Network, NASCAR, NBA, NCAA and the Olympic Games, to name a few.

High-tech brands that want to fit seamlessly into people’s lives should also engage in events and movements that have nothing to do with what they sell and everything to do with their company’s values. Whether that means celebrating cultural diversity in technology or encouraging innovation in all of its forms, sharing your internal values with the community gives like-minded people a reason to embrace your brand.

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