We see and absorb brands everywhere – in supermarkets, on billboards, on TV and online – but we only notice and remember some and not others!
Why? Because poor branding can make a company fade into the background. It can be the sole reason for a business failing to succeed in a crowded market.
So, in the business-to-business (B2B) environment, how can you avoid making the most common mistakes when it comes to launching (or re-launching) your brand?
Here is some advice and experience we’ve gathered:
What is a brand?
In the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “Branding is what you want people to think about you when you’re not around. It’s what you want them to know about you”.
Much more than just your name and logo, a brand is the impression you make on people and the reputation you develop – making successful branding absolutely critical for success.
Know your brand inside out
Before attempting any form of branding for your business, it is vital to get under the skin of your brand and understand its key values.
What does your business stand for and what’s its position in the market? What do you want people to remember about your business?
Finding the answers to these questions can be time-consuming but stick with it because you’re laying the foundation for your future brand’s look and communication to be successful.
You may already know who your key competitors are, or what you do well, but finding the essence of your brand is key.
Identifying that little golden nugget of what your brand is about is the first step of successful branding.
Find your USP
Identifying a unique selling point (USP) is undoubtedly the most important aspect of creating a brand, regardless of whether you’re marketing to consumers or businesses.
With competition around every corner, what is it that makes you different? Why should a customer choose you over anyone else? If you can’t answer these questions, chances are you will struggle to be successful in a crowded market.
Thinking about the motor industry, all car brands feature a slogan on their TV adverts – a little summary of what their brand is about. For example, Audi’s is ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ (Advancement Through Technology), Hyundai’s is ‘New Thinking, New Possibilities’ and BMW’s is ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ – all different in message and tone, but each getting across their own reason why someone should buy their car – their USP!
Make it consistent
One of the most common signs of poor branding is inconsistency.
Once you have created a brand look that stands out, is memorable and has a strong USP, it needs to be consistent across every outlet, whether it’s your website, packaging or communication. Any variation may detract from your messaging and confuse potential customers.
Branding is significantly more impactful (and memorable) if customers are presented with the exact same look and message at every touch-point.
It may be a good idea to create a set of brand rules – a document that states dos and don’ts regarding, for example, font style, colours or tone of voice.
Creating successful branding is a task in itself – but pointless if all brand rules fall by the wayside when applying it across different channels.
Making decisions on simple things like lower case vs capitals or friendly vs professional communication voice is a critical step in ensuring brand consistency.
Make it memorable
Our lives are so busy these days, it would be impossible to remember every brand we come across in an average day.
It is therefore becoming more and more important to create a brand that is memorable for your potential customers. Whether this is through your brand look or messaging, it’s about giving customers something to remember you by.
Some big consumer brands that do this well use unique brand colours – like the Cadbury’s purple or the Coca Cola red – which feature at a customer’s every touch point with the brand.
Whether it’s B2C or B2B branding, this could equally be an interesting word, phrase or image that sticks in people’s minds.
Anything you can do to maximise brand recall will ultimately increase your chances of being your customer’s choice.
Don’t be a copy-cat
There are millions of brands out there so it would be easy to copy the style of a brand you admire. Whether it’s their company logo, their tone of voice or even their products, many businesses try to ape another business’ identity – perhaps to ride on their success!
However, being a copy of someone else means you’re purposefully blending into the sea of brands and making yourself less relevant and noticeable in the process.
Every human being on the planet is unique and you’d probably agree that life would be pretty boring if we were all the same. The same principle should apply to brands, whether this is in a B2C or B2B environment.
Whilst brands in certain sectors are of course very similar, especially if they offer the same product or service, each brand should have its own unique identity. You wouldn’t want to catch someone referring to your brand as a copy of someone else’s – you’d want it to be known in its own right!
Don’t try to be something you’re not
A common trap that many brands fall into is portraying themselves as something they’re not.
Talking about the food sector for a moment, brands like Innocent started a huge trend around health when they launched their smoothies in 1999. With messages like ‘nothing added’ or ‘100% fruit’, there was suddenly a real emphasis on taking nasties out of the things we consume.
Consequently, many brands got carried away trying to portray themselves in a way that matched this health ideal. Whilst coming across as healthy isn’t a bad thing in itself, the danger is losing sight of what your brand actually stands for and why consumers buy it.
The same principles apply in B2B. Instead of trying to fit into an ideal, it’s always better to hone down on what your brand values really are and what makes you different – USP is key!
Make it eye-catching
In a busy world of brands shouting for attention, it is crucial to stand out from the crowd.
Quite often, customers spend no more than a few seconds considering their brand decision. The same is initially true of B2B business customers. If you don’t catch their attention immediately, chances are you won’t even get noticed.
Thinking about your shopping experience in a large supermarket is a good way to highlight just how many brands you are bombarded with when walking down the aisles. You’re in a rush and you don’t have time to browse so you tend to default to the brands you recognise and relate to most. The same is true in B2B.
What would it take for you to notice something new? What would that brand need to do to be chosen over your trusted favourite?
One thing to bear in mind is that, whilst being seen is key, it’s important to stand out for the right reasons – a flashing neon yellow logo may not be the answer!
Get the most from your B2B branding with Full Mix Marketing
We’re East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, specialising in delivering a full mix of marketing for those who need to engage with businesses and other organisations.
We work with many businesses to launch new products and services and turn them into bottom-line success through effective marketing – including branding.
As a full-service agency we can provide as much or as little of your strategic, digital and creative marketing as you need. We can even act as your entire outsourced marketing team.
If you’re planning to launch a new product or service or simply want to refresh your current branding, get in touch for more support: https://www.fullmixmarketing.co.uk/contact/