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What Makes a B2B Brand?

what-makes-b2b-brandYour brand is more than just your logo or your tagline. It’s about the internal and external environment of your business—and how you choose to communicate within it. Everything your business does and says reflects on your brand—so it’s important to maximize its potential.

You may already understand the importance of branding, but what goes into a B2B brand? When undergoing a brand refresh, is your strategy covering all the important elements?

First, where does “brand” come from?

The term “brand” originated with livestock, when individuals would physically alter their herd with a distinctive symbol in order to differentiate it from others. Now branding has evolved beyond just a visual mark as a way for the public to distinguish one business (and their unique values) from another.

There are two distinct sets of assets that define your brand: tangible and intangible. Oftentimes the tangible (or “visual”) component is the most obvious, but it’s important to not overlook the intangible components (or brand “essence”) as well. These intangible assets oftentimes have a greater impact on customer perception and—most importantly—sales. Here is what goes into the tangible and intangible assets of a brand:

Tangible Brand Assets

Logo and tagline
A well-crafted logo and tagline starts the baseline perception of your brand. It drives home your brand promise and uniqueness. What’s important to remember is it is not the be-all-end-all for a brand—it’s simply an anchor for the ship.

Name and trademark
Trademarking your name, logo and key visual assets are a critical step in solidifying and protecting your brand identity. While many businesses will work to trademark name and logo, it’s important to think of other key assets such as unique products, services and other valuable assets so your entire business is safeguarded.

Messaging
While undergoing a rebrand, you should be revisiting mission and vision statements. Ask yourself if tone, verbiage and audience are still appropriately addressed in the current messaging. This messaging should trickle down into everything your business uses to communicate with clients, from brochures to daily emails.

Website
Today, a well designed website is worth its weight in gold. Data shows that if a user doesn’t like your website, it’s an indication to them that the company doesn’t care. Consider what your website says about your brand by visiting it with your ideal client in mind. Or better yet, visit with a specific goal in mind to gauge user experience.

Collateral
From business cards to billboards, your marketing and sales collateral reflect your brand. Key visual components, such as color, typography, style of photography and logos on collateral, should always be consistent. This means no logos stretched across a presentation slide or sticking to a limited color palette. It may seem nit-picky, but these mistakes often translate to your audience as unprofessional and lazy. Keep in mind, branding is all about repetition, the more consistent your brand is represented, the more likely it will be “branded” in the minds of the audience.

Intangible Brand Assets

Company culture
There are no shortcuts here—the company culture you build will be the culture your clients perceive. Your audience and strategic partners like to see the expertise within your business and how much you value it. That doesn’t always mean posting funny staff photos or publishing information about holiday parties. Company culture can be communicated in daily appreciations, success stories and even your office design and environment.

Industry expectations
While company culture is important, there are certainly parameters put on your brand based on the industry. It’s important to acknowledge these expectations, but also think what about your business makes you different. For example, corporate financial firms face industry-specific rules and regulations, so instead of harping on “compliancy” as a main brand trait, focus on customer service, staff expertise or other unique service offerings.

Customer service
Customer service is often the most overlooked, yet most important, part of a brand. It’s at the frontlines, and for larger companies customer service is the only time a client will hear from your business. Ignoring processes and failing to improve in customer service is a quick way to lose your brand credibility.

Customer experience
Tied closely with customer service, customer experience is the sum of every touch point a client has with your business. This includes discovering your service, the purchase/sales process, and future customer cultivation. Your brand should remain consistent during a customer’s experience and if elements are changing (e.g. logo redesign, merger, client point of contact), communication is key to ensure their experience remains positive.

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