Top 5 Misconceptions About B2B Branding
CMO EXCLUSIVES | March 26, 2014
by Kathleen Kindle
As a strategy director at a leading branding firm, I routinely help create and build brands. From industry-leading consumer brands that are household names to strictly B2B ventures that serve extremely narrow niches, the approach, in my view, is the same: Define your point of differentiation, align the organization, and then create and tightly manage the brand experience.
- Making the effort to define a differentiated brand story for your offering is worth it, no matter the market or the customer type.
- Do not underestimate the power of story and creativity to make an impression.
- The best brands in the world are built through uniting a workforce around a common purpose and shared brand values.
However, sometimes I find our clients in the B2B world think that these time-honored principles of creating and maintaining strong brands do not apply to them. This post, Siegel+Gale’s inaugural “B2B Beat” monthly blog, breaks down five misconceptions that exist about B2B brand building.
1. Brands don’t matter in the B2B space: Let’s start with the biggest misconception of them all. Whether you’re selling a chocolate bar or component parts for an oil rig, the notion of “brand” still matters. Who are you? What do you stand for? Why are you different? Why should a customer care? Making the effort to define a differentiated brand story for your offering is worth it, no matter the market or the customer type. GE is one of the world’s largest companies–yet it invests heavily in its brand. A customer is still choosing you over a competitor, and he or she needs to understand your unique value in the marketplace.
2. The customer only cares about features and functionality: At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your customers are human beings. You may think they’re only interested in the faster widget or the stronger nugget, but the reality is even business customers want a brand they can relate to. Intel, for example, uses simple language and relevant imagery throughout its marketing to forge a connection with its customers. B2B brands can learn from this example to engage customers on a deeper level.
3. Storytelling isn’t important: Related to the statement that customers are people, too, it’s important for every type of brand to think about creative ways to engage the customer. Are you missing an opportunity to be creative? To emphasize your unique point of view? To bring your successes to life in fresh and interesting ways? Do not underestimate the power of story and creativity to make an impression and express your brand’s unique selling point.
4. There is no brand experience in the B2B space: No matter who the customer is, good brands of all sizes come to life and make an impression at every touch point. Every interaction adds up to an overall impression of the company. Every moment is a chance to build good will. To engage small businesses, for example, UPS created an entire program to teach them about the business of logistics. The sales meeting, a phone call, your Web site, your business cards, your visual identity, and your social media presence should make a strong impression about who you are and what you believe as a brand.
5. Employees aren’t aligned with the company’s brand purpose:Business leaders cannot assume that employees always understand their own companies’ brands and their roles in bringing them to life. The best brands in the world are built through uniting a workforce around a common purpose and shared brand values. Accenture keeps its nearly 300,000 global employees aligned by consistently reinforcing its brand values in corporate decision-making. This effort strengthens the bottom line, attracts and retains talent, and directs employees to deliver stellar products and service to customers.
The principles of strong branding remain the same, no matter what kind of company you are and who you serve. B2B ventures have much to gain from embracing these ideals and thinking about their brands in more fresh, creative, and engaging ways.
About Kathleen Kindle
Kathleen Kindle is Strategy Director at Siegel+Gale. She possesses an intimate understanding of branding and more than 17 years of experience in strategy, marketing, and communications.