marketing + Brand Identity
Three Steps To Building
Your B2B Brand
Part Two of How To Build Brands And
September 22, 2015 • 5 min read
As I mentioned in part one of this three part series on brand, companies with a strong image and reputation attract more customers, retain more customers, and attract better employees. Those are all good reasons to work on building a good brand.
For the sake of this article, I’m listing three main steps necessary to create a strong brand message. In reality, the process of B2B branding has lots of tasks and to-dos that make up each step. Each step along the way informs or builds on the one’s before.
Step One in Building Your B2B Brand: Know Yourself
Successful companies stay true to their core values. It creates a company that employees and customers are proud to associate with.
Staying true to your core values requires you to first know what those values are. That’s where a vision and mission statement come in handy.
Before anything else; before creating logos, tagline, websites, or any form of tangible collateral you need to define your vision. Defining your vision comes before your mission statement and helps you outline your values.
A vision statement looks to the future. It address what you want to achieve over time. It addresses your “why” and clarifies how you intend to achieve your vision.
A mission statement is focused on the now. It addresses what you do and who you do it for. It let’s customers know the benefits they get from your product or service.
Bruce Johnson with WiredToGrow.com does an excellent job of explaining the difference between a vision and a mission statement in this five-minute youtube video.
What Makes A Good Vision or Mission Statement
A good vision statement doesn’t need to even mention your product or service. They may change over time. And it should avoid industry jargon or any outlandish grandstanding.
A good mission statement simply states what you do and the value customers receive. Remember Dale Carnegie’s quote from part one of this series, “The only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.” There couldn’t be a more concise guide to writing a mission statement.
Vision and mission statements generally require a meeting of the C-level team. They are responsible for guiding the success of the company and are best prepared to determine the underlying values of the organization.
Check out Jeffrey Abrahams’ book 101 Mission Statements from Top Companies: Plus Guidelines for Writing Your Own Mission Statement. It is a handy reference tool containing corporate mission statements from some of America’s best known companies. Seriously, check it out from you local library if possible. The only time you’ll need its is when you are working on your mission statement, at which time it will seem indispensable.
As your company grows your objectives and goals may change. When this happens you’ll want to revise your statements to reflect your changing business culture.
Step Two in
Building Your B2B Brand:
Know Your Customer
Determining who your target market is and what they “look” like is easier said than done. A good customer profile includes information such as sex, occupation, job title, work environment, age range, education level, and geographic location. To complete the snapshot of who you are trying to reach be sure to include their challenges and pain points as well.
The Google study mentioned in part one of this series shows the importance of emotion in B2B marketing. You may understand your customers’ business goals and needs very well, but what about the individuals’ needs (e.g., daily frustrations, professional goals, important values/beliefs, desired self-image and attitudes)?
Direct customer interviews and surveys capture business needs and goals effectively but can fall short when it comes to emotions. You need to develop open-ended interview questions that uncover an individual’s inclinations and beliefs. Questions like what is important to them in their job, what is the most challenging and easiest part of their day, and what one daily activity they would eliminate if possible will help fill out your profile.
Another way to understand your customer better is to visit them at work and observe them going through their daily routine. This will help you uncover what frustrates them most.
Understanding these emotional needs will help you create a stronger value statement and find ways to improve your value.
Step Three in
Building Your B2B Brand:
Know Your Value
A value proposition is a clear statement about what an individual or organization can realize from using your product or service. It answers the question, “Why should I be your client?” It should focus on the benefits and avoid listing any features. Your clients doesn’t care about features if you product doesn’t first fulfill a need.
When creating your value proposition remember to think in terms of your customer. Put yourself in their shoes. What you think of as your unique value may be very different from what your customers value you for.
Make your value proposition very clear. Listen to your current customers not only to discover what they value, but how they talk about that value. When crafting your value proposition remember to use their wording. A great way to gain insight into how your customers talk about value is to follow relevant social media.
You’ll find lots of opinion and seemingly conflicting guidance on creating a value proposition. One option is to use the approach Simon Sinek advocates in his Ted Talk that I mentioned in part one of this series. you watched that right?
Here’s the simple outline:
Another option is to follow the variation offered by Marty Neumeier in his excellent book, Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands. It parallels the journalistic model of storytelling. What is your category? How are you different? Who are your customers? Where are they located? Why do they need you?
Just fill in the blanks: Company Name is the only what that how for who in where who want why.
Next Steps to Building
Your B2B Brand
Remember that effective B2B brands connect with clients, set themselves apart from the competition, and relate the value of being their client. With these things in place—your mission, vision, and value statements—it’s time to begin getting your message out and building your brand. We’ll look into how to do that in the third installment of this series on brand building. ?
A version of this article originally appeared on the Dexter + Chaney corporate blog, Sept. 22, 2015
The Brand Flip: Why Customers Now Run Companies and How to Profit From It (Marty Neumeier, New Riders, 2015)
Complete B2B Online Marketing (Maura Ginty and Lauren Vaccarello, Wiley/Sybex 2012)
Winning B2B Marketing (Christopher Ryan, Fusion Marketing Press, 2014)