marketing + Brand Identity
How to Build Brands and
Influence Customers: Part One
September 9, 2015 • 4 min read
In this three-part series on the importance of B2B branding we’ll look at what brand is and why it’s important. We’ll discuss how to develop your brand messaging. And finally, we’ll learn how to get that message out to current and potential customers.
What Is a Brand?
Your brand is not your company logo, tagline, or mission statement. Those things represent your brand, but brand resides in your customer’s mind.
Your brand is the impression made by all of the encounters with your name, your logo, and your marketing messages. It is everything that people see and hear about your business. Brand is about perception, reputation, and what makes you different from your competition.
Your brand is what people say about you when you leave the room.
In other words, your brand is what customers feel they can count on from your products, services, and people. But if a brand is a feeling, especially someone else’s, how do you build a brand?
How Do You Develop A Strong Brand?
In his best-selling How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1937, Dale Carnegie writes, “So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”
That advice applies to building a brand as well. The more you interact with your customers, the better informed you’ll be about their needs, their priorities, and their perception of your company‘s value to them.
Once you know what customers want, show them how you provide it. That communication is one of the first steps toward building a good brand.
B2B Purchase Decisions Aren’t Emotional—Or Are They?
B2B marketers, assuming their customers make more rational decisions, often focus on business value to differentiate their brand. That can be a mistake. Brand building has a lot to do with creating an emotional connection with consumers.
A study of 3,000 B2B buyers conducted by Google and the CEB Marketing Leadership Council found that successful B2B marketers realize the importance of emotion in B2B marketing. After all, when an individual makes a bad purchase, the stakes are relatively low. Business purchases on the other hand, often involve huge amounts of risk—a high dollar equipment acquisition that proves bad can lead to poor business performance and possibly a loss of jobs. An emotional connection helps mitigate these risks for your business customers.
It’s true B2B buyers tend to do their research before making a decision. But they are not purely rational and logical.
When developing your brand you undermine your own effectiveness if you ignore the emotional side of business purchases. The best brand messages move beyond the rational aspect of what you do or how you do it. They speak to why you do it. Simon Sinek, In his TED Talk filmed at TEDx Puget Sound, outlines the importance of asking “Why?”
Is Brand Building Worth
Branding is an ongoing process of influencing, creating, and fulfilling consumer perceptions. Building a strong brand demands a commitment to taking care of customer needs and providing a consistent, positive experience with your company.
Studies, like the Google one mentioned above, show the purely rational business buyer is a myth. But building a strong brand with an emotional connection requires a lot of ongoing work. So why do it?
It’s simple really. Companies with a good image or reputation attract more customers, retain more customers, and attract better employees.
Now that you’re thinking more about what B2B brand building requires, we will look at ways to develop your message in parts two and three of this series. ?
A version of this article originally appeared on the Dexter + Chaney corporate blog, Sept. 9, 2015
Designing B2B Brands; Lessons from Deloitte and 195,000 Brand Managers (Carlos Martinez Onaindia and Brian Resnick, Wiley, 2013)
Complete B2B Online Marketing (Maura Ginty and Lauren Vaccarello, Wiley/Sybex 2012)
How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie, Important Books, 2013)