Brand has become increasingly important to the growth and success of B2B organisations. Even with the longer, more complex sales funnel, brand can do a lot of the heavy lifting in the lead-nurture process, before the client has even connected to the sales team.
When the B2B buyer journey begins, a potential client will seek recognised, trusted brands or perhaps ask for a referral from a trusted source. They will then do their own research before approaching the organisation. This means the brand must be distinctive, memorable and articulate it’s positioning in a way that immediately resonates with the potential client.
The brand must be consistent across all channels and communicate effectively to lead the buyer to the next stage of their journey.
In the B2B buyer decision process, the awareness and interest stage of the journey is usually longer than the consideration and action stages of the journey. The early stages (awareness and interest) are the stages where brand plays a major role in demonstrating the brand values and commitment to supporting the client. Ideally, by the time the buyer is at the consideration and action stage, they’ve already shortlisted your brand and developed an element of trust in your brand.
Brand acts as the collective experience that clients and external stakeholders have with an organisation. This is based on the involvement that they have had with the brand in the past, the present and the associations they continue to bring to it.
A memorable brand requires a consistent, disciplined effort that needs to be attributed over time, through the total sum of a clients’ interactions with the brand.
Building a strong B2B brand that aligns with your business strategy is the key to growing a successful B2B organisation.
A strong B2B brand helps deliver market recognition. In a cluttered market, with similar product offerings, brand may well be the only differentiator and reason for a client to choose you over a competitor.
A great example of this is Xero accounting software. While other accounting software systems may have more features, Xero has successfully positioned themselves as ‘beautiful accounting software’ with a focus on design and usability that has simplified accounting for small business. For Xero, the brand has become the key differentiator rather than features, price or functionality.
Regardless of where the buyer is on the journey to conversion, a strong brand will build trust with each interaction. With a never-ending influx of new competitors and new brands entering the market, especially in B2B industries, brand needs to continue to play this important role of keeping clients engaged and loyal. A strong and established brand can also help generate referrals from advocates.
In turbulent times, brand becomes a beacon of strength and security, with most clients sticking with a trusted and familiar brand. Clients are less likely to take a risk in changing brands, but brands must continue to prove themselves as the trusted partner.
In the face of persistent challenges in 2021/22, the Edelman Trust Barometer saw business solidify its position as the most trusted (of the four institutions – government, business, NGOs and media).
As government has been seen to be failing to take the lead on some of society’s biggest challenges, including climate change and social justice, brands now have a unique opportunity to become the force for good.
In this incredibly tough employment market, there is definitely a role for brand to play in helping B2B organisations attract and retain the best and brightest talent. Organisational culture can be built around the brand values, creating a community with common values, interests and motivations.
Employees trust their employers to lead the way on social and environmental causes, share common values and create a positive culture that makes proud to be associated with the brand. In fact, Edelmen reported that ‘my employer’ was the most trusted, clearly in front of government, media and NGOs at 77% most trusted.
For B2B businesses to succeed, clients must view them as a credible authority in its space. Potential clients are relying on brands to educate them about the industry, provide research outcomes, showcase best practice examples, and confidently reassure them via use cases and testimonials.
The role of brand is to communicate this valuable information on a one-to-many basis. Brands can actively demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to improving the industry as well as position the organisation as an industry thought leader.
An example of this is Vero’s SME Insurance Index, which has become a core brand asset for Vero in connecting and communicating with the primary target audience – insurance brokers. BrandMatters has worked on this brand research with Vero for just over 10 years – read more about this brand research project here.
At BrandMatters, we work with many B2B organisations to help clarify and articulate their brand positioning. Not only will this resonate with existing and new clients but it will also bring the team on the journey and strengthen the ability for the sales team to close the deal.
Before starting any branding project, we highly recommend conducting brand research to uncover the key insights that will inform your brand’s strategy and ensure that it is consistent with your overall business strategy.
Get in touch to discuss a right-sized approach to solve your B2B branding challenge.