B2B Brand Marketing: Why Business-To-Business Brands Matter More Than Ever

b2b brand marketing

We love B2B brands.

They directly impact the way we work, we create, we earn, and we connect.

But:

They are often forgotten about, with marketing teams choosing to focus on prices and features rather than building a great B2B brand.

We would like to contribute to changing that.

In this article, we are going to look at why B2B brands are incredibly important in today’s business world.

Let’s get started:


The Difference Between B2B And B2C Brand Marketing

When we think of a brand, we tend to think of B2C brands.

Why?

Because B2C industries are brand-led.

Companies seek to become a part of the current culture (or counter culture), to ingrain themselves in the daily lives of relevant customers.

It is a wide net to cast, but an effective one. It has given birth to mega-brands like:

  • Apple
  • Nike
  • Coke

This was well summed up by Victoria Beckham who once said she wanted “to be more famous than Persil Automatic.” She did not want to be a celebrity, she wanted to be a brand.

However:

It is rare for people to think of branding in the B2B arena. Often, we are of the opinion decision-makers choose products purely based:

  • Functionality.
  • Cost.
  • Availability.

But, this could not be further from the truth: decision-makers are rarely real-life versions of Spock!

b2b brand marketing rational decision makers spock

Branding plays a significant role in B2B decision making. Having a strong brand can help mitigate risk, and define how a company operates or views itself.

To put it another way:

B2B brands aim to become synonymous with the culture of their niche.

This is why we often see start-ups boast about the tools or software they use. And why nobody has ever been fired for choosing Microsoft’s Office suite.

The brand creates a connection by communicating a deeper message that is important to the company and resonates with the target customer.

Take a look at these examples, which are all B2B companies whose brands have played a leading role in defining or shaping a niche:

  • Shopify is a vital part of ecommerce.
  • IBM is a trusted name in IT systems.
  • Slack is the go-to business messaging tool.

These companies did not earn these positions based on functionality. While they may offer some of the best tools on the market, they have healthy (and often cheaper) competition.

Instead, it is the strength of their B2B brand that has made them successful.

Let’s take a closer look at this in action:


How Slack’s B2B Brand Fueled Their Explosive Growth

Slack is a great example of a strong B2B brand.

If you are like one of their ten million users, Slack is the first tool you use on a workday.

b2b brand slack strong brand example

Even if you are not a regular user, chances are:

  • You have heard of them.
  • You have used them at least once.
  • You know someone who does use them.
  • You can accurately explain what they do.

Their name has become synonymous with internal business communication.

Since their launch in 2013, Slack has seen around:

  • 50% growth in revenue year-on-year
  • 25% growth in daily active users year-on-year

But these numbers do not come from their tool’s functionality:

Slack was instead able to achieve and sustain this growth — at least in part — because of its B2B brand.

Slack crafted a human message that connected with people; one that said, “Hey, we are here for you.”

Take a look at Slack’s Twitter feed, for example:

b2b brand slack twitter profile

They have turned it into a hub where customers (potential and existing) can:

  • Learn about productivity
  • Hear from industry voices
  • Better their careers
  • Get more from Slack

Better still, it is all written in an easy-to-understand tone. For many, this is a breath of fresh air in an oft jargon-filled business world.

b2b brand slack twitter feed

You can also see that promoting Slack is secondary to connecting.

This is evident across the entirety of their corporate communication; they do not focus on the features of their tool, rather they talk about the greater benefits.

For example:

  • Their tagline is “Choose a better way to work.”
  • They use phrases like, “Making working life simpler,” and “Be more productive.”

This helps Slack connect with the correct business culture. People who want to be more productive, work smarter and simplify their daily life are drawn to them.

In turn, this makes decision making and choosing to work with Slack a simple choice. It made them a trusted name and allowed them to achieve high levels of growth.

Slack now has a tribe of people who love using their tool.

Plus, you know you have made it into the culture when people start making memes about you:

b2b brand slack meme

Having a strong B2B brand, then, can lead to incredible growth and establish you as part of the fabric culture of your niche.

But how do you go about building a B2B brand that resonates for your organization?

Well, that brings us smoothly to the next section:


The 6 C’s Of B2B Marketing: How To Become A Staple Of Your Niche’s Culture

In this section, we will look at how to build an effective B2B brand.

To do this we will follow the 6 C’s of B2B branding.

They are:

  1. Consult your team(s)
  2. Craft your story
  3. Create high-quality content
  4. Connect with your audience
  5. Cater to your audience’s needs
  6. Consistently review

If you follow each of these steps and invest time into each of them you will be well on your way to building a B2B brand that matters.

Let’s get started:


Step 1: Consult Your Team(s)

The first stage is to bring together the people in your organization.

Specifically, you will want to establish a cross-functional team to discuss:

  • The current state of your brand
  • How people view your brand (internally and externally)
  • What you want your brand to be

Depending on the size of your company, this could be everyone you employ or key stakeholders from each of your relevant teams.

The idea here is to have employees with a wide range of experiences, ideas, and perspectives collaborate on your B2B brand.

This will not only give them ownership of the brand, but it will also help you to see the brand from lots of different angles.

For example:

Employees on these teams will all have a different perspective on how your brand is currently viewed and will be able to give insight into how customers or other employees want it to be:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Product
  • Customer service
  • Customer success

Get these stakeholders into a room and get lots of ideas on paper. Explore lots of options, and make decisions as a group on what your B2B brand will look like.

Once you have done that, it is time to start telling your story. 


Step 2: Craft Your Brand Story (Connect With The Culture!)

Brand storytelling is where brands connect with culture.

Stories create an emotional response. One that binds you and your customer, and lets you weave your way into the cultural fabric of the niche.

b2b brand craft compelling story

Reports show that customers find these stories, and the connection that comes with them, more important than their overall satisfaction. That shows just how important these stories are!

The question is, what is the story you need to tell?

The answer depends on a lot of factors. Mainly, it will be decided by what emotion you want to communicate to the decision-makers in the businesses you want to target.

Slack tells a story of productivity; Microsoft tells a story of trust; Dropbox tells a story of easy access; John Deere tells the story of reliability.

Whatever story you choose, it will consist of four key elements:

  1. Your why: the reason your brand exists
  2. Your Hero: the champion of the story
  3. Your words: a specific way to tell the story
  4. Your audience: the people the story will resonate with

You can learn more about how to develop these elements, and tell a compelling brand story, in our brand storytelling guide.


Step 3: Consistently Create High-Quality Content

Your brand is a promise.

You make that promise by consistently reinforcing your message, story, and values.

That is why brand consistency is important to build trust.

People will always turn to the most helpful B2B brand who turns up, week-in week-out, telling a story that they connect with. Why?

Because they have a concrete vision of:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Who you do it for

In today’s B2B world, the best way to convey this is through content marketing.

You can communicate your message most effectively by consistently creating relevant content for platforms like your:

Click here to learn more about how brand consistency can help your organization.


Step 4: Connect With Your Audience

Once you start sharing your brand message you need to take time to connect with your audience.

Research shows that customers want brands to:

  • Respond to their communication
  • Respect their input
  • Value the money they spend with on you

This can also help to create a human connection in a B2B world; to look beyond the organization and interact with the people who use your product every day.

Omnichannel marketing can offer a great solution to this.

It is a strategy whereby you cater to the customer at every touchpoint. Where you tailor communications and responses to their favorite channel.

But you can also keep communications open by having customer service or success representatives who are dedicated to responding to customers.

This will help give you a greater insight into the next stage:


Step 5: Cater To Your Audience’s Needs

Your audience’s needs are at the core of your brand.

Why do you exist but to deliver a product or service to customers in need, right?

By consulting your teams, openly telling a story, creating content, and being responsive to communication you will begin to see what your audience wants and needs.

These insights will help inform your strategy and develop new ideas to test.

But:

You should also employ brand intelligence techniques to help get an even better understanding.

In a nutshell:

Brand intelligence is listening to your customers’ online conversations – the ones you are not a part of – to understand how they think, feel, and talk about you.

b2b brand listening

This creates a more accurate picture of your audience’s sentiment.

You do this by:

  • Using listening tools: such as Google Alerts or Mention
  • Gathering quantitative data: the numerical information
  • Gathering qualitative data: the written sentiment of your audience
  • Gathering real-time data: looking at what people are saying right now
  • Monitoring competitors: what are people saying about your competition?

You can learn more about how brand intelligence works, and how to implement it, in our definitive guide.


Step 6: Consistently Review

The final and most important part of building a B2B brand is the review process.

It is paramount that you regularly:

  • Gather analytical data about your strategy
  • Interpret it into actionable changes
  • Set benchmarks for change and improvement
  • Adjust your strategy accordingly

This allows you to make continuous progress and better cater to your customers’ changing wants and needs.

Agile marketing presents a great way to do this.

It is a strategy whereby brands focus on high-value tasks, in short-term cycles, to bring the highest level of value to their customers.

This lets you stay nimble, adapt to feedback, and prioritize improvement.


B2B Brand Marketing In A Nutshell

B2B brands play an important role in the modern business world. They shape business culture and make it easier for decision-makers to:

  • Mitigate risk
  • Choose appropriate solutions
  • Affiliate themselves with brands they love

Slack is a prime example of how having a strong B2B brand can help you grow.

By crafting a human message and consistently promoting it to relevant customers they were able to achieve and maintain high levels of growth, becoming a go-to name in their niche.

You can build your own B2B brand by following the 6 C’s of brand building.

They are:

  1. Consult your team(s)
  2. Craft your story
  3. Create high-quality content
  4. Connect with your audience
  5. Cater to your audience’s needs
  6. Consistently review
And, if you are looking for the best collaborative tool to help you craft brilliant corporate communication and achieve brand success with your team, take Loomly for spin:  start your 15-day free trial now.