B2B brand strategy

By Anders Björklund

B2B branding is changing. Competition has never been more challenging. To achieve desired results in B2B today requires a distinct and compelling brand that cuts through the noise, separates your brand from the buzz, and engages your audience on a deeper level. To help you strengthening your company's brand, read on and be inspired.

Keep your branding simple

Doing business in B2B industries can be complicated. However, when it comes to communication, you should keep it simple. Make your messages easy to understand, digest, and remember.

All companies possess something unique, and it's your job to extract the perceived uniqueness and amplify the essence so that it's powerfully communicated. 

Through this amplification, you and your company will cut through all the noise, connect directly, and more deeply engage with your potential and existing customers. 

Positioning and differentiation

B2B buyers want to understand if they are in the right place when encountering a touchpoint with your company. Let's say they land on your .com and find your content. 

The longer it takes for a prospect to figure out if they should be spending time with you and your company, the more likely they will move on without even considering working with you. 

Furthermore, it would help if you prioritised to make sure that you differentiate. How many times do prospects research a solution, only to find three to six options without clear differentiation? Your company needs to identify clear brand differentiation that's easy to understand. 

Customer-centricity

Many B2B companies define themselves by their services, how long they've been in business, or how remarkable their technology is.

Instead, it would help if you considered your brand from your potential and existing customer's perspective:

  • What's the "why" underlying their purchase decision? 
  • What's in it for them? 
  • Why should they care about your brand? 
  • How much time does your team spend solely listening to your target groups, e.g. identifying their main challenges, needs, and primary objectives?

A customer-centric company is usually more profitable than companies not focused on the customer. Some B2B companies that report high client engagement achieved higher revenue and more profitability than their counterparts.

Many B2B customers are either disengaged or indifferent to their vendors, representing a significant threat of defection not because of weak solutions, products, or services but rather because of a lack of customer-centricity, real interest and focus.

Being a customer-centric company means that you are interested in and understand how it is to be a potential or existing customer. It also means that you translate that into meaningful archetypes/personas and user stories. It also means conducting critical account reviews and empowering the front lines. And it would help if you established feedback loops so that you are continually learning from your customers. And it certainly means, communicating what matters most to them. 

'Immediately get out of talking about your own company, and instead talk about what matters most to your customers'.

Data-driven

Very few B2B companies include analytics data when developing their brand strategy, yet it's essential and useful if you aim to be customer-centric. Data can be provided in many forms, on the macro or micro level. For example, you and your company can uncover audience interests and needs on the macro level by studying search, social, and content data. You can also rely on, e.g. analyst, market and industry research reports.

On a micro level, you can explore your own brand's search, social, and content data, as well as your own website's engagement data, e.g. 

  • How far are they scrolling? 
  • What do they click? 
  • Where is their cursor moving? 
  • How does the behaviour differ based on the visitors and customers journey to your website or portal?

A key to rely on data to inform your brand strategy is to experiment and test continually. Through ever-ongoing A/B testing, you will uncover what matters to your potential and existing customers, and what drives them to take action or interact, indicating a need. 

Messaging

If you want to cut through all buzz and noise, your messaging and communication must stand out and be relevant. Too often, you come across content that sounds like Wikipedia.

Your messaging and communication must grab potential and existing customers attention. If you and your company want more of your target audience to notice you and spend time with your company — become more relevant.

Emotional response

Building emotional connections with your potential and existing customers is one of the most powerful things your company can do for your brand. Many of the companies we help and support need to convince potential customers to go with a higher-priced solution when many lower-cost options are available. They need to connect emotionally with their customers at most touchpoints in the purchase cycle. If their brand is not evoking an emotional response in their potential and existing customers, they're making it mentally tricky to engage with and purchase from them.

B2B buyers are usually more likely to purchase and pay a premium when emotionally engaged. The buying intent dips in the B2B purchase funnel when emotional messaging wanes.

Professional B2B purchasers and procurement are different; their primary driver is explicitly risk reduction (which makes sense when considering that investments usually carry more risk). I will get back to that in another article, another day.

Interested in finding more about branding? We've compiled our knowledge into an extensive branding guide - take a look to learn about why branding is important, how you create a brand in the first place, and some practical tips you can use when doing branding work.

For a deeper understanding of how valuable a brand can be (especially when people are loyal to it), click below to get our brand loyalty guide in PDF format.

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.
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