The Importance of B2B Branding

Why is it that so many B2B facing businesses fall short in their branding endeavours? We work with a wide range of B2B clients and have encountered this numerous times. It seems that many leaders of B2B companies fall into the trap of thinking that branding is an exercise reserved solely for consumer businesses. This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, there are some truly iconic B2B brands, namely FedEx, Cisco and IBM. It is important for business leaders to remember that even though they are selling their products and services to other businesses, they are still selling to other humans.


Companies that sell directly to other businesses have long debated the importance of investing in a distinct B2B brand strategy and many still argue that it’s a waste of money and effort, citing that their corporate customers base their purchase decisions on functional aspects like cost, quality and availability, not the emotional aspects associated to ‘brand’. This is a complete misconception and anyone who truly understands the power of b2b branding will understand the importance of a powerful brand identity, no matter who their audiences are.


One important revelation for B2B companies is how important the emotional dimension of the brand is. “Hard” facts matter, such as expertise, but the emotional components like values and beliefs, is an ever-increasingly important factor when B2B customers consider a brand. So often, ​​the core messages that companies communicate about their brands are rather different from the characteristics that their customers value most. They are more often fact based which, by the very nature of products and services, results in very little differentiation in the minds of the customer. Thus, at Opportunus, we make it our mission to truly understand what your audience value most in your business and double down on this through precise and powerful branding and communication strategies.


It is not just us that have noticed the general underperformance of B2B companies in their branding exercises. McKinsey also discusses how businesses tend to underestimate the power of brands and trademarks in business-to-business decision making, with a deeper understanding of branding’s role in decision making being critical if B2B companies want their brands to drive value.


In addition to this, McKinsey’s research revealed that B2B facing firms with strong brands outperform weak ones by 20 percent. Thus, a powerful brand strategy can be a key factor in driving growth. It is also important for business leaders to remember that experiences, not messages alone, define brands. You can have the most compelling brand message in your category, but it doesn’t matter if the experience isn’t reinforcing it. For B2B’s looking to define their brand, it’s increasingly important to start with the experience their customers want and expect. Ignoring this can be costly to growth, which is another reason why those without concerted branding efforts underperform in their respective markets.


At Opportunus, we agree with McKinsey’s sentiment, that in reflection to the complexity of B2B brand strategy, a holistic view of business branding that involves managing a corporation’s reputation and the perception of its products and services across multiple stakeholders and all touch points is essential. These relevant touch points can include anything from sales force interactions and sponsorships to social media and product usage.


Truly successful brands appeal to many different types of stakeholders and thus, business branding should reflect the essence of value propositions made to a large and varied group of stakeholders. Considering the variety of these various touch points is also important. The sales force isn’t the only place where customers experience the brand, which is traditionally where companies think about it. Today it’s also about the customer experience with the website, word of mouth, industry events, PR, technology, product etc. What’s really interesting, however, is that different touch points have different amounts of influence depending on where in the decision journey the customer is. At Opportunus, we make a point of emphasising the importance of investing into customer experience as we truly believe in its power to create enduring partnerships and have an incredibly positive impact on client retention rate.


Having a robust brand strategy gives focus to the business and makes it easier for the marketing, sales, product and technology teams to do their real work, developing and providing solutions that help client’s businesses grow. Look closely at fast growing B2B’s and you’ll see they are all propelled by a brand story that supports their business strategy.


It is vital that one’s brand story supports one’s business strategy and that is why at Opportunus, we have invested in our management consulting proficiencies as we truly believe in the power of a harmonious relationship between business strategy and brand strategy. San Francisco based consulting firm Prophet discuss how their research indicates that the strongest B2B brands build highly relevant and hard-to-replicate experiences. From the first impressions they make in the relationship building and early evaluation phase, how they integrate with their customer’s business, the expertise and problem-solving they bring, it is all connected back to their brand. At Opportunus, we strongly agree with this sentiment.


One’s brand strategy is crucial and it is the key starting point to building businesses with long term competitive advantage, however expanding this brand strategy into one’s customer experience is vital to keeping customers in the business’ ecosystem. This is especially important with B2B facing companies as strong brand identity and powerful customer experience across all touch points can lead to truly enduring partnerships.


Going forward, branding endeavours for B2B businesses will likely increasingly resemble B2C branding efforts. This will include; smarter content marketing and more seamless experiences using technology. They will also energise employees for greater engagement. Those successful in deploying potent brand and marketing strategies will outperform their competition in their sector.


How strong one can make their brand can make the difference between negotiating price reductions and capturing price premiums, and between merely holding onto core volume and finding the next key growth opportunity. These strengthened brands will have that extra edge, providing an intangible value that goes one step further than just price or function. Investing in your brand is giving your business additional mediums to exploit, reinforcing and even strengthening your value proposition. Therefore, we urge all of our clients to invest heavily in brand strategy that filters down through the whole business, at every touch point, that also works symbiotically with one’s business strategy. Execute this approach and your business will begin to grow and outperform competitors in your market.


Speak to us today about your B2B brand.

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