While brand differentiation has long been a focus for business-to-consumer marketers, many business-to-business marketers have historically overlooked the benefits of building their brand, instead placing emphasis on the promotion of products and services. Today, B2B marketers are beginning to recognize the value of developing a strong brand that articulates its value and position in the market place. A recent study released by BtoB Magazine found that nearly 80 percent of B2B marketers indicated brand differentiation is a priority for their organizations, but that most marketers surveyed (60 percent) reported they are not fully satisfied with their current effort.
Clearly, brand is becoming increasingly important for B2B companies and there is room for improvement. However, differentiating on brand alone isn’t enough to impact the business or drive engagement with key decision-makers.
Standing out in the crowd requires brands to have a distinct personality and demonstrate their credibility. Companies also need to develop a brand promise to their customers that spells out how they will deliver on a daily basis. When each of these elements is clearly defined and integrated across the business, from operations to marketing outreach, a company will see powerful brand impact.
So, does your brand need to be redefined? Ask yourselves:
Are your company’s key differentiators relevant and valued by prospects and customers?
A strong brand is built around a unique idea or promise that a company makes to its customers. Not only that, but it must be differentiated and relevant — one that evokes an emotional response and in turn compels people to work with a company. This differentiation and relevance can be a key factor when deciding to purchase from a company. It leads to increased sales opportunities and customer loyalty. A positive experience that delivers against the company’s promise will keep that customer coming back.
Has the purchasing process for your prospects changed, or do you anticipate it to in the coming years?
Companies need to invest first and foremost in understanding their prospects and customers — What challenges do they face? How do they go about selecting potential partners and making purchase decisions? What do they look for in a partner? When are they most likely to need your product or service? Increased awareness of these behaviors drives customer loyalty and in turn can boost sales. Alternately, as customers shift and change, it is important for companies to stay ahead of the changes by actually engaging with audiences — or risk losing relevance and loyalty and wasting marketing dollars.
Do your employees accurately and consistently talk about the company?
A company with a strong brand knows that brand starts inside the organization. It’s not simply what a company communicates externally — it’s how the employees internalize the brand and bring it to life in their everyday activities. It guides how they interact with customers and each other. Along with your mission, vision, and values, brand demonstrates what you stand for. Use it to empower employees and they will contribute to the company’s success.
Do your external communications reflect your brand?
Consistency in your communication reinforces the brand with customers and continues to emphasize what your company stands for. It helps customers make the decision to choose you, and drives visibility and repetition that can increase future sales.
Megan Myers is an account strategist at JPL. To contact Megan, or to access a brief worksheet that will help your brand understand if it is in need of a makeover, please visit www.jplcreative.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.