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Why branding is important for B2B businesses

August 2019Helen

We’ve had a few branding projects in the studio this month which are always well received because these projects tend to be very creative but also branding projects are very collaborative, involving several members of the team.

From the marketers and copywriters who will look at the messaging and gaining a clear understanding of who we are targeting to the designers who do their own research and look at different fonts, colours, shapes and icons that will best meet the brief. We come together for a first pass, looking at the initial concepts from the designers and as a team we’ll choose the brands we think best fit the brief and these are worked up to showcase how they will work in situ, bringing the brands to life, before being put into a presentation for the client. It’s an exciting process!

The difference this week, however, it was a B2C branding project, which is very unusual for us as we specialise in B2B, so it was fun and exciting for the design team. The process is the same, but it reminded me how often we have to educate our B2B and manufacturing clients sometimes about the benefits of a good brand.

Branding should not be seen as the domain of B2C environments or those big corporates in the B2B world, all companies need to consider their brand and how it meets their business strategy and direction. I regularly see how powerful a good brand can be and the value it is to a business and believe it should never be ignored, especially for B2B. Here are some reasons behind my argument:

  • Branding can differentiate your business from the competition – the business world is very competitive in 2019 in just about every sector and branding can really help you to differentiate, particularly for sectors such as manufacturing where it is still a relatively new concept.
  • Branding helps you to engage with customers and potential customers – having a clear brand message will help you speak to the right people and ensure they understand what it is you are offering and what you can do for them.
  • Branding can communicate your values and add value to your product or service offering – B2B companies are having to learn that just looking professional is not good enough, customers do their own research now and they’re looking for personalisation and good service as well as good products. Branding helps you engage with people.
  • Branding can help to grow your business – a good brand portrays your vision as well as your mission, it sets out your aspirations and the experience you are striving to achieve for your customers. It’s why companies should continually look at their brand and ensure it is fit for purpose.
  • A good brand has significant value – just like the big consumer brands we all know well, a business to business brand adds considerable value to the overall reputation and cost of the business if it was being put on the market. Never underestimate that.

We all know of many big consumer brands such as Heinz, Nike, Coca Cola and McDonalds and branding was key to the success of Innocent drinks’ success helping it to grow from a small stall at a music festival in 1998 to a 63% share of the £111m UK smoothie market in its heyday. National Savings rebranded in 2000 as NS&I and increased their online sales by £45m in just eight weeks. (www.designcouncil.org.uk/thepowerofbranding) But there are just as many examples of how branding helps in the business environment. In Sagefrog’s 2018 B2B trusted brands report it said that getting the trust of your customers is one way to ensure the longevity of your business. It goes on to say why trust is so important in B2B, and why we will probably recognise all if not most of the brands on its list. Safefrog says that developing a rapport with clients characterising their brands as trustworthy plays a major role in the market and that when a customer trusts your particular brand, more often than not it translates to brand loyalty.

Branding can build credibility and attract the right customers for your business, irrelevant of the size of the company. We have a client who started out as a one-man band in 2009 and in his 3rd year had secured a major Olympic contract. His consistent branding had a lot to do with that success. The company continues to invest in marketing this brand loyalty.

Sometimes with B2B, there is confusion about branding.

So, what is branding?

Branding is more than just your company name or logo, it’s the personality of the business, the values and it’s very DNA. Everything you do and every channel you use to communicate with clients says something about your business. Does your brand portray the right message? If you offer a quality product or service but you have a poor website or even poor business cards does this suggest to your customers that you offer quality products and services? Probably not. That’s why it is so important to align your company values (what it is you offer) with your brand. Remember only one company can be the cheapest so if you don’t want to go down that route, you need to differentiate your brand.

If you work in the B2B environment, here are some basic principles you should be thinking about :

1. A strong visual identity can differentiate your business

Although I’ve said your brand is more than just your logo, your logo is important! It doesn’t have to be complicated, simple is often the best, but a strong identity can help you stand out in a very busy marketplace.

2. Be consistent and protect your brand identity

From the colours and fonts you choose, to the type of language you use for your branding, be consistent every time. We write brand guidelines for companies to ensure that brands are protected, that the right logo is being used and the right fonts and colours are being used in the right way.

3. Brand everything!

Use every opportunity to reinforce your brand, from email signatures to social media, to your website, even your purchase orders and invoices. Brand recognition is important. Recognition builds trust and trust builds customer sales.

4. Refresh your brand

If your brand is tired or in need of a makeover, never be afraid to refresh it. It can be an evolution or a revolution. Sometimes all you need is a bit of modernisation to bring it into the 21st century. Sometimes it’s a completely new look, never without its risks but if done correctly, with the right research and thinking behind it, it can move your business up to the next level. Be proud of your brand, it reflects the type of company you are.

FIG is a specialised B2B marketing and communications company with over 20 years’ experience helping bring brands to life. www.fig.agency/portfolio

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