As humans, we tend to apply narratives to everything. And it makes a lot of sense — we’re more engaged when we hear stories, because a story puts your whole brain to work.
Narratives are the connection between cause and effect, and that’s how we think!
But how does this connect to B2B brand development?
Author and blogger Seth Godin describes a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Your brand is more than just your logo, it’s a reputation that you have to develop and maintain constantly. So how do you do that?
Why Is B2B Brand Development Important?
When you think of brand development, your mind probably goes to well-known B2C companies (Nike, Starbucks, Airbnb, etc.). Yet those of us in the B2B space are also well aware that branding is every bit as important in our industry.
B2B buyers are people with emotions, who largely rely on their first impressions to make decisions — decisions like purchasing a B2B product/service.
The benefits of a well developed B2B brand are far and wide. To name a few:
- Gives customers a reason to choose your brand over competitors.
- Builds trust with key stakeholders.
- Shortens the sales cycle.
- Creates loyal customers and advocates for your brand.
- Attracts and retains employee talent.
- Results in overall better financial performance.
What Does Good Brand Development Include?
Of course, every brand is different, but every good brand has a story to tell, and a compelling way of telling it. Let’s look at what actually goes into developing a B2B brand.
1. Building A Framework
To grow a brand, you need to be very clear on three things: your purpose, your beliefs, and your cause.
Throughout the brand development process you should continue to ask yourself “what is the reason my brand exists, and why should people care about it?”
In order to get to this place you need to know:
- who your audience is,
what your ideal customers look like,
- how you’re going to market to them,
- What resources you need in order to do that (aka your tech stack).
2. Developing A Channel Strategy
Most of the time, people find your brand through your website or social media. So your various channels should be unique, yet incredibly in sync. Different content does well on different channels, i.e your blog should live on your website, whereas your social media can play around with different forms of content.
You should know the exact goal of each channel (i.e generate organic traffic vs. lead generation) and be able to measure and track the success of the content on each one.
3. Making Design A Priority
Even though we know we shouldn’t, we all judge books by their cover.
Your B2B website is no exception.
People base credibility off of how your website looks. IE: If it looks straight out of the early 2000s, it’s not going to pull a lot of weight.
Your design should be visually appealing, but more than anything it should be customer-centric and intuitive for even the least tech-savvy of us.
At the end of the day, your website is for growing your business and generating leads, so it should be a good reflection of your brand, personality, tone, style, etc.
4. Consistency Is Key
In order to be recognizable by customers, you need to be consistent with your branding. This is where style guides and branding kits come in.
Once you’ve established your brand’s tone, design, personality, etc, you should make sure that the entire company is on the same page. Distributing style guides provides people with a standard for all brand communications.
Your style guide should summarize your brand’s mission and explain how you want to present your company to the rest of the world.
5. Ensuring Data Quality
Data quality is important when it comes to brand development because it allows marketers to accurately measure and track progress. With high quality data, you can make informed decisions regarding campaigns and budgets.
If you’re making decisions based off of poor quality or inaccurate data, you risk damaging your relationship with customers.
Examples Of Great B2B Branding
If you’re in need of some inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of B2B brands we think hit the nail on the head when it comes to brand development and storytelling.
At this point, Salesforce is a household name and a driving force within the B2B community. Their mission is centered around the concept of “ohana,” or intentional family, and they weave that narrative around their customers’ success.
If you’re in the B2B industry, you know HubSpot’s instantly recognizable orange branding and logo. Their website greets visitors with success stories and they have an all-star blog team that pumps out relevant articles. If you have a question about B2B, they have a blog that will answer it in detail.
Their story is all about human connection as a way to grow business, and it shows in all of their content and branding materials.
Slack’s messaging is all about collaboration, production, and “building the ecosystem for work.” They want to save you time and enable customers to communicate effectively and efficiently. In fact, their brand messaging implies that work is actually done on Slack, not just aided by it.
Each of these brands make clear what their position within the industry is, how they can help their customers, and incorporate unique messaging to communicate it to the world.
Your B2B Brand Has A Story To Tell, And People Want To Hear It
While your brand development should be strategic and customer focused, it should also be authentic. Where B2B brands may appear to be impersonal, think of it as your chance to get creative with design, messaging, and other forms of content.
A good starting place is going back to your brand’s origin story. How did it start? Why did it start? Where is it headed? And the rest should come rather naturally.