Why Build a Brand in Business-to-Business Markets

A brand makes it easy for a business to be easily identified by potential customers

What Does ‘Brand’ Mean In Industrial Markets?

A brand is more than a logo and a tagline – it is the face, identity and persona of a company. A great brand is instantly recognizable, evokes an emotional response in its target audience and, for some brands, generates a sense of loyalty and commitment from those who choose to buy products or services from that brand.

Beyond this, a brand communicates the company values. This is done visually through images and colours, as well as associations with certain events, sports, celebrities or other public displays. For example, if a clothing company were to promote its brand aligned with a certain sport, the two start to become synonymous with each other and the brand and sport can benefit from the association.

A good brand not only communicates company values and creates an identifiable image for your organization, it also creates a sense of cohesion. When a company brand message is strong, it can be seen. From the website to the letterhead, there is a consistent message that is easily received by potential customers. This sends a message that your company is organized, communicating from one place and established in its values and vision.

For any B2B branding strategy, the first place to start is determining the core message. What is central to the mission of your business? What is it that your organization values above all else in business? When you have distilled this, you can refine the message. You can think about how it sounds, what words are synonymous with that value, how that value is communicated in words, colours and images.

In B2B, this needs to extend to all facets of your business. Having a common language or way to communicate with customers, a standard format, simple systems that employees can follow and customers can expect to receive are all part of the B2B branding process.

The B2B Branding Ladder

There is a big difference between a product and a brand. Sometimes an organization will use a product name as a brand, which can be confusing for customers. However, a product is only a brand if people think of imagery and associations when they think of that product. This is common in industrial markets. Most so-called industrial brands are simply labels for products that could just as easily be referred to by a generic description or a number. This happens because many industrial manufacturers claim that branding opportunities do not exist.

However, there are opportunities for manufacturers of industrial parts, for example, to better promote a brand and become synonymous with the products that they manufacture. One of the main issues in B2B branding is the use of a corporate name that acts as a banner rather than individualising each brand within a corporate umbrella. This can become confusing for clients who might not understand the structure of a corporation and become distracted by multiple ‘names’ that are not established as brands under a singular umbrella.

A B2B brand of any value is most often the name of the company itself, while product labels are confusing for customers and do not communicate values. A company name is a brand that customers think of and use to measure value and understand messaging.

Product labels do not qualify as brands and should be avoided, as they tell customers that your business is not focused on a consistent message.

Why B2B Branding Matters

Branding is all about communicating a consistent message and reaching an audience. Some of the biggest brand names in the world have become so powerful that they have become verbs – ‘just google it’ – while others have replaced generic terms in the lexicon – ‘I’ll have a coke’.

While it is clear that in the competitive world of B2C sales this matters, it is also important in B2B. Sales teams and clients often talk in jargon to speed up conversations and minimise confusion. If your product or service were to enter the lexicon as a B2B solution, it puts your company in a position that many see as indispensable. For example, if your company name is BizA and your product name is Product1, people will know that Product1 is a brilliant solution, but they might not know the company name BizA. Using your company name to promote your product, especially if you have only one product or service type, is important for your brand association.

The key to sales is providing the right solution. The key to marketing is making potential customers aware of your solution, often to a problem the customer didn’t even know that they had. However, at the core of your business should be your brand. The image that you present lets customers know that your products and services are superior to that of your competition, that communicates quality, reliability, trustworthiness or value. Your brand should be working to connect with your customers who are willing to buy the best simply to have an association with your brand which has a reputation for excellence, exclusivity or industry leadership.

This is important in B2B, because many organizations, once they have found a solution they are satisfied with, will not seek out other options. B2Bs often sign long term contracts that keep them locked into cycles. For this reason, many b businesses do not see the need for brand development, but they are wrong. The decision-makers in B2B are not always C-suite executives. Sometimes they are the buyers who work on the floor and who have the authority to make decisions about which cloud-storage system will most benefit the company network. This person might respond better to a brand that they have heard of simply because after doing all the research and having many conversations about which solutions can work best, often it is a brand name that sells a solution because it is easy to remember, has a consistent message and shows a level of professionalism that the decision-maker feels is trustworthy.