Like most industries, B2B marketing is loaded with a lot of acronyms and jargon. Sometimes you feel like you’ve been nodding along for so long, and now it’s been too long that you can’t even ask what something means. Perhaps nothing is discussed more than “brand strategy,” though. It sounds self-explanatory, but there’s more to it than determining your logo and your signature colors. If you’ve been smiling along with a vague understanding of what your colleagues are discussing, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to discuss what brand strategy means in the B2B marketing space.
…so what is it?
Your brand strategy is the method that you take to build and shape your brand, as well as how you spread the word! It’s the plan you put in place to make your business recognizable to anyone who may need your services. The biggest, most successful brands have an almost formulaic strategy in place. It practically allows customers to understand what’s being sold to them before the brand even reveals itself.
Establishing a well-defined brand may be a bit more difficult for a B2B business than for a large corporation, though, especially if it’s still pretty small. Most B2B companies (and businesses in general) don’t have the backing of a centuries-old brand like Coca-Cola or the hip, trendy recognition of brands like Supreme or Glossier. However, that doesn’t mean you should push branding to the back burner.
Most people wouldn’t say that the most recognizable brands in the world are B2B. But Harvard Business School marketing professor John Quelch says that B2B brands should invest more in their brand-building for these three reasons:
- Most B2B marketers can’t economically address thousands of small businesses using the traditional direct sales force.
- If left unattended, individual managers will each do their own ad hoc marketing.
- B2B marketers realize that developing brand awareness among their customers’ customers can capture a larger share of channel margins and build loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors.
Have you established your buyer personas yet?
No? Then head on over to our blog, “How to Build a Quality Buyer Persona in Five Easy Steps.” Yes? Congrats! Now you can reference them when determining what kind of brand strategy will most resonate with your customers.
Brand strategy in a B2B world
According to HubSpot, the seven components for a comprehensive branding strategy are:
- Purpose: What is it contributing to the world?
- Consistency: Do all of your outlets – from your marketing materials to your website, to your social media presence – all seem like they’re coming from the same entity?
- Emotion: How are you making your customers think that you’re the answer to their questions?
- Flexibility: Are you paying attention to the ebbs and flows of your industry and willing to tweak your strategies to stay relevant?
- Loyalty: Do you acknowledge customers who keep coming back or refer you to other companies?
- Competitive awareness: Are you paying attention to the marketing strategies of businesses in the same industry as you?
- Employee involvement: Is your staff on the same page as your marketing team? While you might associate your brand with your outward appearance to your customers, your company culture is also a large part of it.
These components are essential for any business to keep in mind, B2C, or B2B. If anything, they’re even more important to keep in mind if you’re marketing to other companies. After all, they’ve worked on their own brand strategies, so they’ll be the first to notice if yours seems to be half-baked. So really take some time and brainstorm where your business stands on all of these aspects.
I know, these are a lot of questions to keep in mind. Wouldn’t it be easier if your brand strategy did just consist of “What colors should we use on our website?” and “Are we going to be professional or irreverent on the internet?” But trust me, your hard work will pay off when it comes to establishing a lasting, cohesive brand for your B2B business.
The keyword there is “lasting”
Market research firm AYTM warns against focusing too much on the short term when working on your brand strategy. Yeah, it’s cool to see results right away, but you want to make sure these results don’t start to wane, leaving you right where you started. They suggest your marketing team become “brand architects,” and build a foundation before working on strategies to “bridge brand strategy and brand messaging.” Think of this foundation as your first step each time you want to expand upon your company’s branding. You’ll always have a head start!