In a new report released just a few weeks ago, Forrester Research Inc. says 74% of business-to-business buyers are researching half or more purchases online before deciding to buy. How does this make room for B2B companies to present a unified brand message? The solution, says Forrester, is using a clear B2B brand message to direct and align customer brand communication, engage specific market segments, address key decision makers, articulate the product or service from the seller, and inspire action. When a unified brand message is lacking, mixed messages are often the result. That is why developing your company’s B2B brand message is so essential.
What does good B2B branding look like?
Remember your best friend in grade school? The one who shared lunch, passed notes, and promised to be your friend forever, school bullies beware? Where you went, your friend went. No one was more loyal or more committed. That friend is much like building a B2B brand message, in that he or she was:
- Faithful: Entrepreneur describes B2B branding as “your promise to your customer”. What can they expect from your services? How can your products deliver what they need? A faithful B2B company knows its audiences needs and pain points, and works with those to develop an offering that is worthwhile and valuable.
- Consistent: Across the board, from sales reps to the company logo, the message is the same. The vision is clear while the core values resonate on every level. It would be very confusing to a 2nd grader if a best buddy was giggly, hyper, and energetic some days, and other days became sullen and withdrawn without warning. Friends want consistency. B2B buyers are no exception; individual managers who set out to present their own marketing plan will cause confusion and disorganization within the company.
- Communicative: Best grade-school friends used to write messages to each other, folding them into various geometric shapes before handing them over in the classroom. Effective B2B companies express the desired outcomes and deliver trustworthy information.
- Unique: A brand message with a purpose will set you apart from your B2B competitors, creating for you a group of loyal buyers who then pass on your name to others.
Example of Great B2B Branding
American Express Open Forum: As an exchange site between small business owners, AMEX has branding down. Combine the openness with engaging content and you have a great example of branding.
Target’s A Bull’s Eye View: Eye-catching bits not only about style, but also a Twitter feed and Pinterest-type board brings the corporation down to a personal level.
Air BNB: Click on “London”, and then narrow it down to find a neighborhood, then destinations by categories. This site will make you want to travel, which is the point.
Your B2B company may never be as big as Cisco, GE, or Nike. But in your part of the world, you can stand out and become the leader in your field. The difference now is that the playground is the sales world, and the best friend is a community of loyal and would-be loyal customers waiting for your passed note. Approach boldly with a unique, consistent, and faithful plan to communicate well and often.
The importance of B2B branding is still being tossed around on forums and in blog posts, and questions continue to arise about its significance in the business world. For now at least, and according to the research, B2B branding can get everyone on the same page and increase your trustworthiness as a company. Avoid the mixed messages that can occur when so many hands are involved in getting the job done. The end result should be an aligned message and a focus on the key audience in order to inspire action.
How has your B2B company approached branding? Do you believe B2B branding is necessary in order to grow business?