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By Alan E. Young

One of the most vital components of a successful company is an effective branding strategy that creates deep interest and loyalty among its targeted consumers. Although this is a clear focus in many industries, the branding of many travel technology companies speaks primarily to the functionality of products, while failing to connect with the emotional aspect of their target audience. A successful brand is a driving force that has propelled some of the world’s most game-changing billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Steve Jobs - from startup phase to the top of the food chain. Because of the rapid pace of change and innovation that is inherent to this unique space,  travel technology companies must increase their focus on branding the company, not the solutions.

The Human Experience

Human connection is at the core of all highly successful brands. While there may be rare circumstances of tech companies that manage to achieve some success with little focus on traditional branding, this possibility is becoming less likely over time as the market becomes increasingly crowded and educated.

A common mistake that can be made by tech companies is strongly prioritizing what can be quantitatively measured, such as human-computer interaction design, yet missing the essential keys to brand building that need to focus on values and positioning. Success comes from ensuring that a tech company's brand is perfectly aligned with the way that users experience their products.

The most successful technology companies harness emotion and tell human stories. Although few organizations would doubt the power of a strong narrative as an effective marketing and brand building strategy, in theory, many tech firms fail to place enough emphasis on storytelling and creative positioning to differentiate themselves from the growing field of competitors. In the end, the purpose of your brand strategy is to develop a sense of preference within your target customer segment.

Create a Clear Identity

Never fall into the trap of trying to be liked by everyone. One of the keys to successful tech branding is ensuring that the image of your company and products is properly aligned with the expectations and impressions of a distinct target audience. A valuable example of the problems that occur when failing to meet this goal can be found with the Microsoft Windows Phone. Although the company has obviously experienced massive success with many of its products, its phone was never able to gain significant traction. Why did this happen?

Microsoft branded the Windows Phone as a premium product that could compete with the iPhone, however, because it was so late to market, the company initially sold it at discount prices in an attempt to gain market share away from the very passionate tribe of Apple customers. For consumers, this resulted in a lack of product identity, which many believe to be one of the primary reasons that the Windows Phone was unable to successfully compete with either its low-priced or premium competitors.

For Apple, the massive success of the iPhone can be attributed to clear branding that focuses on the emotions of its customers. The company's refined storytelling approach has created a brand personality that is consistent across all of its products, thereby developing a deep connection with its clients around the world and solidifying its place as a market leader.

Effective branding for travel technology companies can be achieved by communicating a clear message that illustrates the experience that a person has when discovering, using and sharing its products. Consumers must feel personally connected to all aspects of the brand, which extends far beyond the technology itself to become a part of their lifestyle and identity. Today’s consumer also expect more from your brand and that is why multi-platform engagement and content marketing have become is so important. To measure your brand experience, conduct interviews with real customers.

Develop a Fascinating Story

To make a travel tech brand stand out from others, compelling storytelling is the most powerful and actionable marketing technique. Some may believe that brand storytelling is about the company, but it is actually about the customers and the value that they receive when engaging with the companies products or services. The most influential brand stories prioritize customers as the stars to develop deep human interest by being persuasive and also appealing to emotion. The way that a brand conveys its messages is just as important as the core content itself. By accurately identifying the values and style of a tech company's audience, marketers can develop a branding strategy that makes consumers genuinely care about what they have to say, thereby creating a long-lasting connection that gains traction and market share.

In the past, travel technology companies were less concerned about branding than consumer product companies. However, with commodification of technology, more and more hi-tech companies are seeing branding as a means to emotionally connect with customers. Bring the technology back to the consumer and help them discover how it fits in their life. By investing in creating customer awareness and a technology ecosystem, companies can develop a profound human link to their brand that can transcend commoditization and grow alongside new offerings as the tech landscape evolves into the future.

About Alan E. Young

Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and Co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality (nbtworld.com). Previously, Alan has held executive level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou. Alan is past Chair of The Board of Directors of The OpenTravel Alliance and been very involved with other industry associations most notably AHLA, HEDNA, and HTNG. With over two decades of experience in the travel and hospitality technology world, Alan specializes in helping innovative companies achieve winning performance and dramatic growth.

Contact: Alan E. Young

alan@puzzlepartner.ca

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