Sales Empowerment Group Blog

How to Build a B2B Brand Strong Enough to Be Considered an Industry Leader

Marketing is about improving your odds of success and successfully branding your product or service is a powerful way of doing just that. Here are some examples

Hello Moto!

For several years I worked on the marketing team at Motorola. When I joined the company all of our cell phones were named after numbers. The first project I worked on was the exciting-sounding T-720. That all
changed quickly as we introduced a slim phone that slid easily from the palm of your hand to your pocket called the RAZR.

In addition to the product branding we also introduced a corporate campaign titled “Hello Moto” which helped provided a simple brand position that could be understood in markets around the globe. This was a product category begging for branding and differentiation, and the launch of the RAZR resulted in Motorola vaulting over several competitors to become the number one volume cell phone in the U.S. The
combination of a winning product and a compelling brand helped Motorola sell over 100 million units worldwide and won the hearts and minds of both retailers and customers.

Why do B2B brands require effective branding?

Many B2B CEOs view marketing as the domain of consumer goods brands. They are wrong. Among Interbrand’s 10 most valuable global brands we find Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and GE. All generate far more B2B revenue than sales to end consumers. A research team from Harvard Business School recently conducted a study of top B2B global brands. They shared the following characteristics:

• The CEO is a willing brand cheerleader, loves the brand heritage, and is a great storyteller.
• The CEO understands that building brand reputation reduces commercial risk, insulates the company in a crisis, and provides the common purpose that can bond all the company’s stakeholders.
• Efforts are focused on a single, global corporate brand rather than individual product brands.

Why should brand-building be important to B2B CEOs?

In today’s global, highly competitive world, product features and designs, manufacturing processes, and services can easily be duplicated often for less somewhere else.

On the other hand, strongly held beliefs, associations, and attitudes in your customer’s minds are not so easily copied. A strong brand can give you the competitive edge you need. Strong brands can:

• Create greater customer loyalty
• Make you less sensitive to competitive pricing
• Increase trials of new products
• Provide focus to marketing efforts
• Allow you to attract the resources you need such as talent and capital

The ultimate goal is to position your brand as a unique solution that can ease your customer’s recurring pain points. It’s more important to be different than better, as the bar for better keeps moving. But being different and relevant is a winning combination and a brand position you can own for a long time that will propel you to become an industry

Does your business have a strong enough brand to succeed in today’s super competitive marketplace?

If you have a product or service that everyone needs and no one else offers, it’s easy to be the best. Unfortunately, that’s not a reality for most businesses today.

Many products are considered by prospective customers to be very similar to one another. There is a short list of acceptable choices in every product category that is defined uniquely by each prospective customer.

How can you make sure you are on that short list? By cultivating and investing in a strong brand that has a clearly defined and defensible point-of-difference versus competitive offerings.

What can the CEO of a mid-sized B2B company do to strengthen their brand?

You can begin by understanding what a brand is.
A logo is not a brand. Your business has a name, logo and maybe you advertise, but do you have a brand?
Successful CEO’s and business owners know that branding goes deeper than a name and logo. Logos, tag lines and ad campaigns are traditional marketing tactics that merely scratch the surface

• Brands connect with customers
• Branding a product or service differentiates you from your competitors. It’s the key to turning prospects into loyal customers
• A brand is more than what your product or service does or what you communicate. A brand is what you stand for in the mind of your customer, including an implied promise to your customers that your product or service will consistently meet expectations every time they interact with your brand
• Brands evoke emotions, delight us, and feel familiar and reliable

How do I get started?

First, most B2B marketers have to address and appeal to thousands of small businesses as well as enterprise customers. They cannot do so economically using the traditional direct sales force.

Second, if left unattended, individual managers will each do their own ad hoc marketing. The result will be a hodgepodge of corporate logos, taglines and packaging. Customers will be confused and the company will look disorganized.

Third, B2B marketers are realizing that developing brand awareness among their customers’ customers can capture a larger share of channel margins and build loyalty that can protect them against lower-priced competitors.

Defining your brand identity and implementing a well thought out brand strategy is probably one of the most important business objectives a company can have.

Written by Geoff Kehoe