B2B Marketing Blog

Written by Lisa Shepherd
on April 18, 2012

When we think of strong and recognizable brands, companies such as Apple, Kleenex and The Gap come to mind. Of course, these are all B2C examples. It is easy to appreciate the value of creating a well-defined brand in an overly saturated consumer marketplace and through measures such as brand recall, brand recognition and brand awareness it can be quantified. In B2B, brand equity is not as clear cut.

When you think about B2B brands what are some examples that stand out? While listing champions at brand building in the B2B spectrum may be a little harder; IBM, SAP, Caterpillar and Goldman Sachs all have some serious brand equity. What difference did their branding efforts make to their bottom line? Well, not only are they leaders in their B2B industries, they all developed consumer awareness so their brand strength speaks for itself.

But how do you measure the ROI on branding development for B2B when you are not in the IBM league? Good question. A question we are asked frequently, and to be honest, a question that does not have a neat algorithm that can be easily applied. But, through a 4 part series, I will attempt to answer the question and discuss what brand building is (and is not) and how to build a persuasive brand. Hopefully by the end of this series, any fuzziness around brand development in B2B will be gone.

So to start, how can you be convinced that building a strong brand foundation is critical to any B2B company regardless of the industry and competitive environment?

  1. Internal Needs. Without a well-defined brand, it is hard to lead a team to deliver the same message and portray a reliable corporate image. Often we see a company using a scattered branding strategy leaving their client confused as to exactly what does the company stands for and what suite of products they are offering. Usually, internal members are just as confused and can’t represent their company effectively. Delivering an effective marketing plan is challenging when there is disparity among the brand elements and buyers cannot connect a consistent message to the company.
  2. Familiarity breeds confidence. People trust what is recognizable to them. In a competitive market, finding your edge can be tough. For instance, at times, you need to stand out against lower priced players. By creating some clout and recognition through awareness it can gain a level of trust even before you start engaging with the prospect. Additionally, B2B companies need to foster and promote their brand promise at every point of contact with their current clients to reinforce the value they are receiving.
  3. Personal Touch. B2B relationship building is much more personalized than B2C. With the growing number of digital delivery mechanisms, it is increasingly difficult to create a personal relationship. That is precisely why having a strong brand identity is paramount to create that familiarity and recognition that entice prospects to start a conversation with you.
  4. Expansion Plans. Your brand equity can help propel growth. As the company grows and possibly expands geographically, having a solid brand in place will yield instant authority and possibly drive recognition in foreign markets.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming post: what brand building is not. Click here if you'd like to receive the blog via email.

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