Nike. Coca-Cola. Apple. These brands are recognized worldwide. And they should be. They’ve spent decades (and many dollars) of establishing that brand presence. While their level of brand recognition isn’t a fair comparison to the majority of businesses out there, B2B brands should realize that they can receive the same respect in their niche.
The journey to brand recognition is not instantaneous. In fact, it could be a decades long process that molds as your business changes. Your company could change leadership, open new locations, acquire other businesses and expand service offerings. So how does your branding remain consistent so you continue on that path to recognition?
First, why brand recognition is important
It’s much easier for a legacy brand to earn and retain business than it is for a new business on the block. Brand recognition keeps you top of mind when a need arises. In addition, prospects can quickly recall your unique values and how your service trumps you competitors.
For example, energy drink Red Bull is the most expensive choice for consumers seeking a caffeinated drink. Despite their higher cost, Red Bull achieved 43% of the energy drink profits in 2013. This wasn’t done on taste alone, proper branding and advertising of the product gave consumers the information they needed before ever stepping inside a store.
So how can you get to brand recognition that early in the sales funnel? Our steps are twofold:
Internal Brand Recognition
Simply put, a good brand comes from a well-run business. During the day-to-day, revisit the mission and vision statement with every project and ask, “Is what I’m currently doing in line with the direction of the brand?” Two aspects of a business should do this:
C-suite executives are a critical component to interpreting and communicating the brand. They are the ones creating the vision and mission statement, but it’s surprising to see how often those ideas are left in the conference room. Leaders should not only establish a vision, but a clear direction for where that vision takes them and the teams they manage.
The founders of social media tech company Buffer epitomize successful brand leadership. Buffer values (productivity and transparency) are instilled from employee benefits (work from home, free Kindle and Jawbone UP) to their internal blog Open. They speak openly and frequently on how they achieve their mission throughout employee relations, customer happiness and revenue.
After leadership comes the rest of your team. Depending on the size of your company, this can encapsulate a lot of departments. Here are some internal branding tips for different departments:
- Customer service – A critical component to delivering the brand promise, ensure customer service is aware of your mission and how their client correspondence should reflect it.
- Project management/Sales – Most importantly, don’t over deliver and under promise. If a client has an incorrect brand perception, don’t focus on molding your business to fit their needs. It’s ok to be accommodating, it’s another to try and force a sale.
- Marketing – It’s easy for marketers to get distracted by the “next big thing,” but before adding on another tactic, determine if it’s really the best match for the brand long-term.
External Brand Recognition
Hopefully, if all your internal branding components are in agreement, the external audience will fall in place. But, your business should change to reflect the advancements in the industry and needs of a customer—so your branding should be equally receptive and flexible to change. Here are some components to consider:
- Marketing collateral (e.g. website, social media, print)
- Sales tools and processes
- Industry expectations
- Previous and current clients
As you can see, internal understanding of a brand reflects greatly on how the public will perceive it. B2B firms don’t need giant advertising campaigns, simply proper evaluation of how their projects relate back to their values.