A brand strategist helps you align who your company is—mission, vision, and aspiration—with how it’s implemented within every business segment. The key is to make your brand identity a tangible and actionable reality for all parties, which includes employees, customers, and the community at large.
Your easily recognizable brand needs to represent your company, instilling confidence and trust at a glance. It “speaks” for you, or inspires others to become evangelists for you, when you aren’t present to do so. It also is available at prospects’ or customers’ convenience, so they can find answers online when it suits their schedule. To tie this together seamlessly, B2B brand strategists know a company’s brand strategy is requisite for developing an effective marketing strategy.
In-Depth Discussion: B2B Brand Strategy
This page provides an in-depth discussion about the variables and practices that brand strategists implement when helping you employ the right approach to present and promote your company through your unique brand. Read along or jump to the section that interests you most:
- The Overview
- Forming a Strategy
- Building a Brand Strategy
- Keeping it Consistent and Cohesive
- Company and Organization Essentials
- Holistic Discovery Approach
B2B customers are hyper-connected, super-mobile, and have lots of options for how, where, and when to spend their time and money. To catch their attention and earn their loyalty, it is imperative to have a unique brand voice and brand promise. We call this the essential truth, or the “heart and soul” of your company.
Creating a relevant B2B brand with staying power requires a focused investment of time and resources. Depending upon what stage your company is in, a comprehensive brand development process may be in order. If your company has never formally developed its brand or has undergone major changes over time, a complete branding process—assessment, research, messaging, and creative development—establishes a strong foundation for sales and marketing. If you have a pretty good handle on your brand essence, a less intensive brand refresh can help to ensure your brand stays relevant, timely, and easily adapts to changing environmental or market conditions.
Once your brand is established, you need to integrate it into everything that you say or do. Your solutions, products, and services should clearly reflect your brand essence so that current and future employees and customers know exactly “who” your company is and what it stands for. Rolling out your brand is an ongoing effort that ensures your brand is fully integrated into all aspects of your business. It is not a “one-and-done” thing.
For your brand investment to pay off, you need a solid brand strategy. It’s essential for industrial marketers to use a focused brand strategy to differentiate your company from the competition, particularly sectors in which products and services are similar and/or the sale is transactional in nature. You want to form your brand strategy with the following elements in mind, so when properly executed, you can see gains in:
- Increased website traffic
- New prospects
- Loyal customers
- Quality employees
An industrial brand strategy ensures your company stands out, keeps the sales pipeline full, and allows you to pivot—in real time—to respond to the dynamic and evolving needs of customers. While you may have more sales than you can handle at the moment, demand can change on a dime. Having a brand strategy in place to capitalize upon the good times is wise. Having a brand strategy in place to market your company when times are tough is essential. This is what will help keep the pipeline full and allow you to attract and retain diverse selling markets.
Skilled brand strategists know that creating a brand strategy involves a thorough process to uncover the key elements that distinguish your company, and from which all marketing and messaging—your company’s voice and brand promise—extends. These key elements help you deliver your brand consistently and cohesively across all marketing and communication channels.
Your company’s brand is an extension of every employee, no matter their job function or title. Each touchpoint along the customer journey provides an opportunity to deliver upon your brand promise and create an excellent customer experience that will satisfy and delight them. A coherent brand strategy—the basis for productive industrial marketing outcomes—ensures all of the dots are interconnected and that your employees are fully onboard as knowledgeable, proactive brand advocates.
An industrial manufacturing brand development strategy lays the foundation for a more closely aligned sales and marketing program that reflects your overall corporate goals, enables you to stay ahead of the competition, and ultimately improves the bottom line. We discuss the elements you need to consider when building your brand strategy in this article. The five elements include the:
It’s important to be consistent and cohesive with your brand strategy. In doing so, your message remains clear and helpful to customers and prospects, creating touchstones for the varied interactions they will have with you. Implementing your brand strategy consistently on all fronts helps you:
- Define and differentiate your company from competitors
Establish market leadership—especially in highly competitive sectors where your solutions may be considered a commodity, or the sale is transactional
- Create recognizable, tangible brand value and increase customer loyalty
- Define your target audience and close deals with account-based marketing
- Attract and onboard quality employees who “get” your brand and add value via their own personal brands
Build an army of enthusiastic brand advocates who ensure an excellent experience throughout the customer journey
Any strategy requires a process. There are some obvious and peripheral—though no less important—milestones along the way that will produce the best outcomes for your goals. You’ll need to explore the following segments of the process deeper, either internally or with the help of skilled branding professionals, to guide you through the strategy that works for your company.
Define Your Company Brand
It is important to understand what your company stands for and the promise of services and products that it offers to customers and prospects. It captures the essence of your company, backed by research and evidence of what makes your company unique.
Brand Strategy = Your Company’s Business Strategy
Brand strategy is based upon a company’s business strategy, and increasingly the two are becoming more closely entwined. The business strategy answers the “why” of being in business, and the brand strategy relates to how your products and services get delivered and experienced by customers.
During the discovery phase of brand development, questions to be asked include:
- What does your company offer to its customers?
- Why should your customers buy from you rather than a competitor
- Do your brand values align with your customers’ real and perceived needs? What tangible value do you add to their lives?
- Is there a tiered brand architecture that delivers different or conflicting brand messaging?
- What is the delivery strategy to get the appropriate message to your targeted audience?
- Why should your customers believe that you will deliver as promised?
Develop the Company Brand
Once you’ve decided to create a new brand, or even refresh an existing one, you’ll need to complete a comprehensive brand development process. This begins with exploring perceptions of management and staff inside the company, as well as customers, suppliers, partners, and prospects. By delving into attitudes, awareness, and perceptions of all stakeholders, this process often exposes recurrent themes and a general “personality” of the company. It reveals valuable information: some companies discover they are on target with their brand vision; others gain insight that indicates that there is a disconnect between who they think they are and how employees, customers, and supply chain partner perceive them and their ability to deliver on their brand promises. Determinations are made from this intel regarding adoption of themes, or the need to amend the current thematic landscape.
It’s from this research that a core brand positioning statement is developed, along with supporting messages, and mission and vision statements.
The next step is to create a visual representation of the new brand, including the logo, color palette, fonts, and supporting graphics, all of which is in harmony with the foundational messaging.
Define the Touchpoints
It is important to know at what points in the buyer’s journey your brand touches—or actually reaches—the customer. Where will your audience come in contact with your brand before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale? Having a clear understanding of how your customers find you—website, on and offline sources, social media channels—and how your sales team responds and interacts provides valuable intel for how best to serve your prospects and customers while delivering your brand promise.
Through discovery and research, inside and outside of your company, B2B brand consultant Grant Marketing helps discover the heart and soul of your company (its persona), its evidence of distinction, and core value proposition, more clearly defining your company’s brand essence.
A thorough discovery process answers the following questions:
- Are you delivering all that your B2B brand strategy promises?
- Is your product or service a true, tangible, and measurable value-add for your customers?
- Do you need to deliver a stronger brand message or experience?
Have your employees connected with, and internalized, your brand essence?
- Do they consistently deliver your brand promise?
Grant Marketing’s B2B brand consulting takes a holistic approach to your branding. Once all the research is complete, we develop an integrated marketing communications package that incorporates inbound and outbound marketing, public relations, events, and internal communications. Our creative and talented marketing, branding, and design team will craft marketing and communication strategies and materials to ensure your brand is identifiable, distinctive, meaningful, and effective.
Grant Marketing can walk you through the brand development process to help uncover or clarify your brand messaging and strategy. To get started, download our Brand Report Card and see how successfully you are currently connecting with your customers.