In Part 1 of this series, we looked at some key differences between B2B and B2C marketing, and how branding works to streamline B2B technical business development.
Now we will look at what it means to put these concepts into practice in your own business.
But first, we need to talk briefly about what we mean when we use the word “brand.” It may sound a little academic, but I know you can handle it.
In a nutshell, your brand is abstracted value.
Your brand is abstracted value
Your brand elements, such as your name, logo, tag lines, etc., serve as shorthand for all the value messages associated with your company. They are like the letters and words that make up your own special language, and you get to write the dictionary.
This also includes the messages you haven’t stated explicitly. These are things like the overall perception your customers and prospects have based on their own experience of working with you.
Think about a famous logo, such as the McDonald’s “golden arches,” and notice how you instantly associate this incredibly simple symbol with all that it represents — burgers, fries, speed, international presence, health concerns, etc.
Note that your audience won’t discriminate between positive and negative associations with your brand. This is just human nature.
But even though you can’t (and shouldn’t) control what people think, you still get to define your own terms — to write your own dictionary.
Thus the key takeaway for the technical marketer is this:
Like all humans, scientists and engineers prefer some form of shorthand to indicate whether you are trustworthy or not. Your brand can do this for you.
How to put your brand to work
So how can you take control of your brand so that it streamlines your technical business development? Start with these steps, and continue to refine them as you learn more about yourselves and your ideal customers.
Step 1: Identify the chunks of communication you want your brand to represent (these are sometimes called “brand pillars” or “messaging pillars”). These should all be areas that are valued by your customers, partners, employees, etc.
Step 2: Take an honest look at yourself, your company, and your culture to find out where these brand pillars don’t quite line up with reality. Be brutally honest, because your audience definitely will. Then go to work adjusting either the reality or the messaging — they absolutely have to be in sync.
Step 3: Promote brand awareness. The simple fact that someone has heard of you can dramatically elevate your credibility in that person’s mind. Without knowing anything else about you, a person can safely assume that your company is “big enough” to have risen above all the noise to register on their radar. This can instantly elevate your company from a garage startup to an established organization in their mind.
Step 4: Be forthcoming, transparent, and professional about your products, services, and business (being careful to protect your IP).
Step 5: Take every opportunity to associate your brand with these positive behaviors. Make sure everything is branded visually. Make sure everyone is reading from the same script.
Branding — especially as it relates to complex technical B2B business development — is an iterative process. You will never be finished branding yourself or your company. Once you’ve made it through the process and taken the time to learn what is working and what isn’t, go back to Step 1 and refine things some more.
With time and practice, it will become part of the culture of your leadership, and from there it will proliferate to the rest of the company.
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