A B2B brand strategy is a long-term plan that clearly differentiates you from competitors by describing who you are as a company, what you do, who your customers are, where you’re headed and how you’ll get there.
B2B branding feels more different than ever (thanks internet). In the last 20 years the world has gone through some huge changes and so has the way that buyers buy. Once reliable marketing tools are no longer getting the job done, but B2B branding core principles and fundamentals have stayed the same. The competition has adapted new strategies and tools like email marketing and content marketing to be more effective. To be effective, we have to adjust for the times and use new resources too.
Today, business consumers go through a totally different buyer's journey. They are using the internet to learn about the product before they buy instead of talking directly with a sales team. To stay current, we need to build new brand strategies. The good news is, the internet allows stronger and more powerful sales and marketing strategies to be crafted. The amount of profound and meaningful messages has stayed the same over the years. Now the messages are being established more quickly and in totally new ways. Customers and employees are drawn closer to businesses through more meaningful and gratifying relationships. Building a unified and up-to-date plan is more critical than ever during these changing times.
We will go over what the role of B2B branding is and how -- and why -- B2B enterprises should adopt a brand strategy. By the end of this article you should understand the importance of branding in B2B and have some excellent examples to follow.
But first, having a great B2B brand strategy is especially critical for B2B CEOs. Let's see why using some examples of history's most influential B2B companies.
Why Should Brand Building be Important to B2B CEOs?
1. B2B marketers have to connect with thousands of different businesses, including Fortune 500 companies. To accomplish this task takes a tremendous amount of effort and going through traditional channels makes it nearly impossible. As a result, your efforts will be spread thin.
2. Not creating a single company-wide brand means each individual manager creates their own unique brand message. This makes the company look disjointed and the lack of unification can result in a catastrophic hodgepodge of missed opportunities. Customers will be confused and the company will be disorganized.
3. B2B marketers realize that developing brand awareness help capture a larger share of channel margins and lead to higher customer loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors.
Examples of Powerful B2B Brands
1. Companies like Goretex, Teflon and Intel use ingredient branding, with Intel being the poster child for ingredient branding. They have zero sales to the end consumer. Still, Intel has huge consumer demand that drives sales of their product inside other companies' computers. PC manufacturers incorporate Intel's brand logo on the outside of their machines. The Intel logo helps assure end consumers that high-quality parts were used in its construction.
Many B2B companies think marketing is only useful in direct-to-consumer scenarios. Among most valuable brands in the world, four of them -- Microsoft, Intel, IBM, GE -- stand out for generating more B2B sales than they do to end consumers.
What Do the Leading B2B Brands Have in Common?
Harvard Business School conducted a study of the best B2B brands worldwide. The companies had a few things in common and these are 4 of the traits that are recognized as key factors to continued success.
1. Company branding is focused on a single globally unified brand rather than individual product brands.
2. The CEO is outspoken about about the brand and is an excellent storyteller.
3. B2B marketing expenditures are measured rigorously to the satisfaction of the hard-nosed engineers and finance staff who run the typical B2B enterprise.
4. The company has a coordinated web presence to ensure a consistent face to stakeholders. Coordinating your web presence is also the best way to get control of your marketing communication that may have become too decentralized.
Now that we see how insanely useful having a strong B2B brand strategy is, let's dive into the different ways that driving a brand strategy will help your firm.
The Snowball Effect of a B2B Brand Strategy
There is a snowball effect of developing a powerful brand. When people see something familiar they are more comfortable with it, and we know people are more likely to buy something they are already acquainted with. Change is difficult and people avoid it, both subconsciously and consciously.
We start the snowball by getting 6-12 "touches" with your brand messaging. It provides you with more loyal customers, and you'll start to see more respect and recognition for your firm. Because your brand is now readily visible, you will want to show why it's better. Having a driven brand will make it that much easier to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Now we are really gaining momentum as we continue to roll the metaphorical snowball. Your message is now strong enough that your customers like and recognize your brand. Your customers are becoming brand promoters. Promoters will want to share your brand and content, so you make it easy for them to share. The customers that love you will rave and brag about your services, passing your branding message to acquaintances who are also in need of your services.
At this point, the branding snowball is really rolling and you are delighting customers and being referred left and right. Business is booming! You might even force your competitors to rethink their business practices. This is no small undertaking. It can take years -- even decades -- to get this kind of brand recognition but, with persistence, it is entirely possible. And the rewards are endless. Having a strong brand can help you recruit the best candidates (think Apple, Tesla, and Google). It will inspire belief in the company's goals, encouraging upper management to continue seeking out avenues for growth. Now thats one daydream I could live in forever!