When we say the term ‘Branding,’ – what’s the first thing that pops into your head?
McDonald’s? Burger King? Facebook?
Well, primarily B2C brands.
Many B2B CEOs view branding as a B2C domain, but they can’t be further from the truth.
Branding is just as crucial to the B2B brands as it is to the consumer goods brand.
By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a clear idea of how to build a B2B brand that consumers really love!
What is a B2B Brand?
B2B stands for business-to-business and refers to organizations that sell their products and services to other organizations. Workday, for example, markets its HCM services to other organizations.
At the core, branding is a game of perceptions played over time. These perceptions really help your bottom line in making more sales for both B2C and B2B brands.
But the stark difference is that B2B has a longer sales cycle, and many decision-makers are involved since the cost of the transaction is on the heavier side.
Branding plays a crucial role as a deciding factor between two companies. That’s why it is necessary to have a crystal clear branding strategy that includes your whole organization and not just marketing.
Steps to Build a B2B Brand
1) Keep it Simple
Marketing has become too complicated, but not too effective. There’s so much clutter on the internet and the first task you have is to cut through the noise.
The best way to do that?
Keep it Simple.
Modern marketers have built complex marketing technology. And in order to serve these platforms, we are continuously creating content that matches up these complexities.
Simplicity is vague these days.
So the first step you have is to declutter your branding strategy. Well-intentioned efforts of personalizing the message and solving customer problems go awry due to complicated branding.
Forget all that you should do and focus on what you can do to make a difference.
2) Have a Distinct Brand Positioning
Clearing the clutter gives you an idea about your market positioning. For most products and services, there are thousands of other brands that are serving a similar audience. So it becomes crucial that your brands stand out from the crowd.
Most B2B brands are marginally different from each other and customers get confused as to why one brand is costlier or cheaper than the other.
Brand positioning solves this issue. Writing your unique competitive advantage is a good place to start with. Your brand positioning helps your internal team to create accurate content and your external customers to differentiate your product from other competitors.
3) Have a Brand Purpose
Consumers across the world choose to buy a product that serves some purpose. The purpose gives you uniqueness and customers can connect with your brand. Your B2B company needs to stand for something bigger than what they sell. That communicates their purpose is to change the conditions around them and demonstrates commitment.
B2B companies with a higher purpose have a distinct advantage in the market. With many products and services being similar, companies copy any new strategy that is bringing you success. But companies with a unique purpose are hard to copy at scale.
What’s more important is that purposes are agile. They are the guiding light and reflections of the society around you. So make sure you keep upgrading your purpose if possible.
4. Take Care of Your Internal Marketing
This is the thing ignored by most B2B organizations. Marketing is a team sport and is best played when everyone is involved. Branding is not just the job of marketers and advertisers, but every single employee represents your brand directly or indirectly. It doesn’t matter if you have a good purpose and distinct competitive advantage if your own organization isn’t aligned with it.
So start your branding efforts internally. Make sure every member of your organization reflects what you stand for. This automatically reflects on your customers. Since the bottom line is the first line of defense when connecting with your customers.
5) Keep Design in Mind
It is through design that your consumer experiences your brand. Whether it’s a website, an app, or social media posts. Good aesthetics send subconscious signals about your brand. The visual appearance of your brand includes logos, fonts, colors, and images.
The more consistently they are used across platforms, the more embedded they become in the minds of your customer.
As noted before, everything must be kept simple. Do not overwhelm your prospects with too much information. Your design must quickly communicate your brand values and also help the customers navigate through your digital properties. Color, fonts, logos, and design do have a crucial role in developing your B2B brand.
6) Create a Story Statement
Purpose-driven story statements are the guiding light to drive your branding efforts. The story, in simple terms, must describe what your brand does, the problems they solve, and the reason for their existence.
It sounds very simple, but most companies fail to deliver this part of communication. Your brand positioning stems from this purpose-driven story.
The story helps you craft your brand initiatives, marketing strategies, and new customer acquisition endeavors. They can also serve as disaster and reputation management tools when faced with unexpected business disruptions.
Document your purpose-driven story and make sure each new member added to your organization knows the story behind your efforts.
7) Engage Your Employees
If your employees do not believe in your business, no one will. They are the frontline members driving the bottom line. When they are inspired, it becomes easier to create a brand.
The importance of internal communication is necessary while creating a brand. If each department of your organization is carrying different brand ideas, it’s not possible to create a unifying effect that you usually expect from your branding process.
B2B branding process is more than just logos, fonts, and colors. It’s a promise you make to your customers. And the best way to fulfill that promise is to make your employees believe in them.
Of course, finding employees who are willing to engage are just as important. Hence, make sure you hire candidates through a good hiring process.
8) Turn Customers into Promoters
Your customers are your best marketing asset. Typically, the B2B transactions are titled on the costlier side and hence customers trust each other’s experience while dealing with your business.
Your brand strategy must be designed in a way that it becomes easier for your customers to brag about the brand.
But before they become your promotors they need to be treated right. So good customer experience should be the driving force behind every strategy. Find a way to reward your most loyal customers. Since they have the likelihood of turning into your brand promoters and bringing in more customers.
9) Effective Content Marketing
With the internet, the way your prospect connects with you has changed dramatically. Today, customers come to you in search of a solution. So selling hard has taken a backseat.
But thanks to content marketing, selling has become transparent for your customers. B2B marketers do not have a problem selling, but the customers have a problem in buying. They do not trust you easily. Content marketing solves this problem.
Customers do their research even before they talk to your salesperson. So your content should be about helping them solve the problem. So instead of asking yourself what you can say to sell your product, ask what you can give. Your brand’s problem-solving nature helps your customers trust the business.
10) Keep Analyzing
The boon of the digital world is that it has become easier for businesses to track their progress accurately. Depending on your process, the metrics may differ. The metrics of sales at all costs will not help you in the long run. You need to track employee satisfaction, customer retention, deals in the sales pipeline, percentage of referral customers, etc.
The metrics you track should directly affect your organization. Numbers do not always reveal the true picture and since there are several metrics you could track, it becomes important to choose the one that matters.
Also, all the relevant departments should be made aware of the metrics and how they are co-related. This will help you get a bird’s-eye view on the progress of your business.
11) Automate Wherever it’s Possible
In the era of digital tools, there’s no reason for you to not automate repetitive, manual tasks. Especially if they can improve efficiency.
Every B2B company should have some basic automation tools. At the core level, your tech stack must be able to manage your customer data safely.
Automation can really help you give a good experience to your customers. There might be several customer interactions that happen on a daily basis. You can automate such interactions and give your customers a speedy solution. This helps you be there for your customers in real-time.
Automation can also help your organization boosts productivity as you eliminate manual tasks and let your employees focus on their core job.
12) Run Experiments
Marketing and branding are all about experimentation. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. So you need to keep experimenting with different strategies till you find the suitable one. Even when you find it, there has to be a culture of experimentation because things change rapidly in the market. Every aspect of your business can be under experimentation. You can set aside an annual budget to test different ideas.
Even if you succeed, you should always push your boundaries and see what results you get.
Your brand is in constant evolution and experimentation helps you pivot your strategy when needed. Plus, experimentation adds fun to your branding efforts, and a lot of creativity is nurtured.
Benefits on B2B Branding and its Impact on ROI
To help marketers understand the importance of B2B branding, we’ve compiled a list of the four most crucial benefits:
1) A Good Brand Attracts Purpose-driven Employees
As the post explained how employees are necessary to drive bottom-line efforts, great branding helps you attract purpose-driven employees. Employees feel pride working for an organization that is working towards a mission.
2) A Good Brand Engages Customers
A good brand constantly reiterates its core values through its marketing efforts. This helps your customers to be more engaged with your brand. This is especially true in today’s age, as people tend to engage with brands based on personal values.
3) Brand Consistency Builds Reputation
In the age of digital, you need to be present on several platforms, and maintaining consistency is difficult. But successful brands across the world manage to do this. Uniformly applying one visual identity and customer experience throughout your communication makes it clear what your brand stands for.
4) A Good Brand Receives Customer Loyalty
Consumers are being influenced by B2C brands every day. Hence, they expect the same personalization from B2B companies. Purposefulness, consistency, authenticity, and experience are four driving factors of customer loyalty. These are hard to quantify, but all successful B2B brands have these traits in common.
B2B branding has become more complicated than ever. Customers today are empowered with information and hence your brand needs to be on the toes watching out for changing market trends.
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has added more layers to its complexity. With the majority of sales happening online, your salesperson hardly gets time to create an impression. So your branding becomes a deciding factor.
So if you are questioning “Can we afford to invest in our brand”, we ask “Can we afford not to?”