Do you really need to know how to build a B2B brand if you only have one product or if your business is just starting out? The short answer is: Yes. Almost 60% of buyers say they actively buy from brands they know, and 21% say they buy a product because they like the brand.
When you create a brand you give your business an identity beyond your product or service. That, in turn, makes your business memorable, supports sales and marketing, and can help strengthen customer relationships.
Here are five steps you can take to help transform your organization from a product or service provider to a well-crafted B2B solutions brand.
1. Research other B2B companies and reflect on your own
Step one for building a B2B brand is to benchmark your business against competitors. Consider the competitive landscape by examining sources like Gartner Magic Quadrants, Forrester reports, and publications specific to your industry, which might include SaaS Mag, Light Reading, or Dark Reading. Get a big picture perspective by reading publications like The Economist Technology Quarterly and relevant reports by The Brookings Institution.
Then, consider where your business fits and how you can capitalize on its advantages to create value and win buyers over. Start with a SWOT analysis, taking the time to consider your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. This will help you begin the process of differentiation.
- What does your business do better than others?
- What are your unique capabilities and resources?
- What do others perceive as your strengths?
- What do competitors do better than you?
- What are your opportunities for improvement?
- What do others perceive as your weaknesses?
- What do you offer that your competitors don’t?
- What trends or conditions may positively impact you?
- What opportunities might open to you in the future?
- What do others perceive as your opportunities?
- What trends or conditions might negatively impact you?
- What are your competitors doing that may impact you?
- What impact do your weaknesses have on you?
- What do others perceive as your threats?
2. Differentiate your products from your brand
Some B2B marketers can get bogged down by trying to create branding around every product and new release their company puts out. While this approach may be a dream come true for product marketers, it can be a costly exercise that quickly burns through corporate marketing’s overall budget.
For lasting brand equity that won’t expire alongside your release cycle, stay focused on building your B2B brand, especially when you’re starting out.
A brand is:
- Something customers ask for by name
- The name people use when talking about one of your products to their boss
- Mental images that associate your business with a vision, values, and narrative
- Your reputation
3. Define your mission, vision, and values
Before creating logos, taglines, or messaging, stop and consider for a moment why your business exists. In the answer you’ll find your mission, which can also help guide your vision for the future and your organization’s values. Some B2B brands break their mission, vision, and values into three separate statements while others wrap all three into either a succinct mission, or forward-looking vision, statement. Whichever route you choose, keep in mind that this is your brand’s guiding light and should come from the individuals who are responsible for the long-term success of your company.
Mission statement: A mission statement is used by a company to explain, in simple and concise terms, its purpose for being.
“We engineer solutions for our customers’ greatest challenges with reliable, cloud to edge computing, inspired by Moore’s Law.” -Intel
“Our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.” -Microsoft
“Help the world run better and improve people’s lives.” -SAP
Vision statement: A good vision statement should be short, simple, and specific to your organization’s goals for the future.
“We are on a journey to be the trusted performance leader that unleashes the potential of data.” -Intel
“To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” -Apple (under Steve Jobs)
Values statement: Think of your values statement as your organization’s guiding ethics. This might manifest as a short paragraph, a sentence, or just a list of words.
“Doing business ethically, legally, and with integrity are the foundation of our company’s culture.” -Accenture
“Customer obsessed. One Intel. Fearless. Truth. Transparency. Inclusion. Quality.” -Intel
4. Identify your ideal customer
Once you know what your brand stands for, it’s time to identify the ideal client for that brand. Start by asking the following questions.
- What types of organizations will find our products valuable?
- What are the firmographic traits of these companies?
- Are there additional characteristics that make an organization more likely to buy from us? (Size, budget, technical sophistication, etc.)
- What types of companies lend themselves to the best potential deal size and opportunity for recurring revenue?
At the heart of building a B2B brand that resonates with buyers is understanding what they find appealing. Explore the best ways your branding and outreach can appeal to your ideal customers:
- What are their pain points?
- What are their challenges?
- What are their aspirations?
- What information do they find valuable?
- Why should they listen to what I have to say?
The more you understand the motivation of your ideal customers, the more likely you’ll be able to create a brand that resonates with them.
Download PMG’s Ultimate Guide to B2B Marketing Strategies to learn more about developing an effective ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas.
5. Create your B2B brand narrative
You know the competitive landscape, what your brand stands for, and your ideal customer. Now it’s time to craft your story. An effective brand narrative starts with developing a persuasive story and then structuring it in a way that will spark the imagination. In fact, the human brain is wired to respond to well-crafted narrative. While there’s a plethora of storytelling models that will get the job done, from Aristotle’s three acts to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, some of the most effective brand narratives follow a simple structure of situation, obstacle, and solution.
Situation: Describe a challenge and the main person confronting it.
Obstacle: The challenge preventing this person from getting what they want.
Solution: How they overcame the obstacle and how great things are now.
Your brand narrative could be rooted in the story of your company’s founders or someone that your company’s product or service helped, providing them with the solution to their problem. You could describe a business obstacle faced by your ideal customers that prevents them from getting what they want. The solution is how you help your customers overcome their obstacles and how great things are for them as a result. The stronger your narrative the more your target audience will remember who you are and the story behind what your solution has to offer.
Turn strategy into action
From research to narrative, taking the time to thoughtfully build your B2B brand will help create awareness, interest, and engagement. With this foundation you’ll be on your way to educating future customers about your organization and its products in ways that resonate with them.
Whether you’re building your brand for the first time or refreshing an existing B2B brand, you don’t have to go it alone. PMG has a long history of helping to build B2B brands and partners with B2B tech and SaaS marketing organizations to drive business value through high-impact content and digital marketing programs—helping companies like yours define their strategies, deliver on their objectives, and smash their KPIs. To learn more contact PMG today.