When we talk about B2B branding we refer to all the strategies and practices employed by a company to make itself known to potential clients. By adopting a business-to-business (B2B) model, organizations sell their products or services to other brands rather than final consumers. Here at Mowgli, for example, we work with large companies, NGOs, ecommerce stores, and small entrepreneurs trying to establish their online presence and, depending on who they are interacting with, our branding plan will change greatly. There are, however, five pillars that we consider the foundation of any B2B branding strategy, which are the starting points to launch and position a digital business.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the five key aspects of B2B branding. After describing the differences between B2B and B2C branding, we’ll address the importance of positioning and differentiation, data-driven marketing, and design.
What is the difference between B2B branding and B2C branding?
Traditionally, the branding of a B2B business relied heavily on a sales team that would go out and build relationships with customers old and new. The goal of most B2B companies is to find long-term clients, and that’s why a relational approach has always been so important. While B2C businesses tend to focus on immediate transactions and individual purchases, nurturing the customer base is essential for B2B organizations.
Relationships, however, have changed with the coming of the digital age. Sales people are still an important asset for most companies, but as interactions move online more and more often it is important to consider how the perception of a brand changes when they are mediated by a screen.
Unlike B2C customers, the clients of a B2B business hardly make decisions based on impulse. Before completing a transaction they will consider carefully whether the service on offer is a solution to their problem, analyzing competition and seeking advice from other departments of the company. Because of this, communication is key to successful B2B branding.
Compared to B2C businesses, a B2B organization will have a much smaller customer base. Investing in how you present your B2B brand and communicate your message both online and offline is important, but it is not necessary to be known by everyone. While B2C brands need to appeal to the masses, a B2B company can direct its efforts on building solid relationships with a selected target audience.
1. Focus on brand positioning & differentiation
A B2B branding strategy should always use the unique selling point of a brand as a starting point to build a memorable image. Understanding what makes you different will help you stand out from the crowd and find your position in the market. Clearly, this is not an easy task: the job of a marketer is often to allow a company’s potential to emerge, even when the differences with competing businesses are minor.
Differentiation doesn’t necessarily have to do with the specific characteristics of the product or service you are selling. The pricing, user experience, tone of voice, or the company’s mission can all be factors that show why a customer should choose you over someone else. Correct positioning for your market is often a matter of experimentation and testing how potential clients react to different selling propositions. Uncovering how your businesses can be framed as unique is the key to a successful B2B branding strategy.
2. Develop customer-centric communication and UI
As we’ve already mentioned, communication is key in B2B branding. Employing a customer-centric communication strategy means anticipating a client’s needs and exceeding their expectations when a request is submitted. Because personal relationships are so important in B2B business, taking care of how you present information and how you respond to the client’s needs can make a huge difference in how your brand is perceived.
It all starts with defining a tone of voice that will represent the brand in a consistent way across all communication channels. Depending on how you want to be perceived by other organizations, you can choose to sound friendly and approachable or cold and formal. Once you’ve decided “how” to speak to your audience, you can start creating content following the style guidelines.
When developing content for a B2B website, whether it’s copy, photography, or video, try to keep in mind the customer’s needs and aim for maximum clarity. Go straight to the point and keep the structure easy to navigate. The User Interface (UI) is extremely important to convey a good first impression, so make sure there are no design flaws that may cause users to leave.
Last but not least: customer service. Make sure to offer assistance when required and be ready to resolve any doubts when they arise. Short response times and availability are powerful signs of professionalism – great customer service is key to elevate your B2B branding.
3. Adopt a data-driven approach to marketing
B2B branding is a process that can improve over time and data is the best tool available to understand which is the best direction to take. By using a data-driven approach to marketing you will be able to boost lead generation, address design issues, and keep your audience engaged.
Once your B2B website is up and running, analytics will show you how visitors behave when they interact with your brand, allowing you to create better User Experience (UX) and define your target audience with more precision. A/B testing can help you reach your objectives faster if you already have a decent amount of traffic, however, experimenting with multiple versions of a web page or an ad can become costly.
A marketing strategy that keeps data into consideration allows for better positioning on search engines, more effective advertising campaigns, and immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t. A data analyst is essential when it comes to reading the numbers for websites with large volumes of traffic, but even smaller organizations can benefit from learning how to interpret the stats of Google Analytics, Hotjar, or social media.
4. Use design to create memorable experiences
The visual identity of your business is just as important as the message you are sending out and the product or service you are selling. If copywriters need to follow style guidelines, designers should also have a clear idea of the brand’s identity to communicate with consistency through colours, images, and UX choices.
Logo, colour palette, and typography are the first design elements to consider when developing a design concept for a brand. The logo is the most important symbol of the brand and the foundation of an effective B2B marketing strategy that seeks a connection with the target audience. When the logo is ready, the color palette is selected and the typography defined, they can be combined to form a harmonious corporate style that will affect both your online and offline image.
Your website should dress to impress, and so should your packaging, business cards, and merchandise. When it comes to design your objective should be to create a style that reflects the company’s ethos, which will also impress the customer and make their experience worth remembering.
5. Keep it simple!
Managing to align the work of developers, copywriters, graphic designers, and marketers can be stressful, especially if you are trying to focus on creating better products or services. But B2B branding is essential in today’s competitive market and how customers perceive a brand can make or break a business.
Develop your vision and refine your image to reflect your mission, but most importantly avoid overcomplicating the process and speak honestly to your audience. Aiming for simplicity is the best way to perfect your B2B branding and ensure your company’s image looks professional, approachable, and engaging.
B2B branding: the key for sustainable growth
Reaching out to businesses or organizations to sell your product or service can be time consuming and often ineffective. Developing a B2B branding strategy that will make your business stand out has become essential both to beat the competition and to be noticed in the crowded digital market.
By investing in B2B branding, you will improve your positioning, highlight your unique selling point, and generate more qualified leads. Branding is not rocket science, but different elements – ranging from design, to data analysis and copy – have to be combined in the right way to create an identity that is recognizable, memorable, and approachable.
Looking for help in branding your next project? Let’s talk about it! Get in touch today to find out how we can help elevate your brand.