The anatomy of B2B branding success

Everyone will have an opinion of your brand, whether you like it or not. It’s how they feel about you. And as frustrating as that might be, you can’t always control what they think.

The people who interact with your brand will always have their version of the truth that can’t be argued with (Matthew Syed, ‘Pit my truth against your truth and it’s a terrifying race to the bottom’ – The Times). Their opinion about you is formed from what they’ve experienced, what they’ve discovered and what they’ve been told.

But what you can control, is your version of the truth. You can control how it’s created, expressed, and articulated. You can also balance the perspectives, tell your story, share the facts, and establish your clear point of view, as well as using it to differentiate your business and give people the reason to believe in you.

And as we know, brands are hugely emotional things. People seem to have a love/hate relationship with some brands. That’s because we’re all usually relating to them as consumers – interacting with, particularly fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) daily. They’re familiar, they’re directly intertwined with our lives – especially those in the B2C world.

B2B – getting all emotional

But why isn’t it the same for brands in the world of B2B? Why aren’t they emotional? Why don’t they wield the same emotional gravitas or attachment?

Our experience tells us it’s because most B2B brands see themselves as largely one business talking to another business. By and large that’s how they often express themselves – we are company ‘X’ and we do this for company ‘Y’ – functional, factual, statistical, cut and dried. It’s a ‘corporate world’ driven by logic and function, and mostly devoid of emotional value.

What B2B brands often overlook is the fact that we’re all still human beings, even when we cross the threshold at work. We don’t suddenly switch off from the rest of our experiences, we are still social animals with home lives, feelings, and emotions. We still socialise, we watch TV, go shopping, listen to music – we are ‘consumers of the workplace’, and consumers in the workplace.

In the world of B2B brands it’s a different kind of human emotion, even more personal. Why? Simply because it’s people who are making choices and decisions on behalf of a business, and not simply as an individual. After all, if you buy a bottle of beer you don’t like, there’s no real damage done, you simply pour it away and buy a different one next time. But, when you’re making key business decisions, or buying thousands/millions of pounds worth of products/services, that’s a whole different ball game. The underlying emotion can be one of overwhelming fear of risk – both for the individual and the business, the fear of change, the fear of standing still, or the fear of missing out.

When you’re working in the B2B brand space, it’s vital to think in a more ‘human’ way. Your brand has got to be able to tap into the human psyche, to win people’s hearts, to put their minds at rest, and to bring them along with you. It’s got to do the job of building confidence, developing authenticity and a connection that says: “OK, I know I can trust you. I know I’ve made the right decision. And I know you’ve got my back and that you’ll deliver”. That increased confidence can come from clearly expressing your brand and its intention in the world, giving people something that can make an emotional, as well as rational connection.

Beautiful – inside and out

As the lines between work life and home life become increasingly blurred, post-covid and the increase in hybrid working, the boundaries between how B2B brands operate and express themselves, both internally and externally are slowly eroding too. And they’re changing for good.

An ever-increasing disparate workplace means that B2B brands must work harder than ever to create unity and loyalty. They must become even more clearly defined in their purpose. They must drive even greater clarity in how they communicate. And they must establish genuine, honest, authenticity for both customers and employees alike, because the old ‘corporate’ world as we once knew it, is on the demise.

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