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.
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.
Think about a famous logo, such as the McDonald’s “golden arches,” and notice how you instantly associate this simple symbol with all that it represents — burgers, fries, speed, international presence, health concerns, etc.
This also includes the messages you haven’t stated explicitly. Things like the perception your customers and prospects have based on their experience of working with you, for example.
Keep in mind your audience will make both positive and negative associations with your brand. This is just human nature. But even though you won’t have complete control over these associations, you still get to define your own terms — to write your own dictionary.
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 be topics and concepts that are valued by your customers, partners, employees, etc.
Step 2: Take an honest look at your company and your culture to see whether your new brand pillars line up with reality. Be brutally honest, because your audience definitely will be. Then go to work adjusting your company or the messaging (or both) so that everything is in sync. This is crucial for building trust with your market.
Step 3: Promote brand awareness. If someone has at least heard of you before starting a conversation with you, it will elevate your credibility in that person’s mind. Without knowing anything else about you, this person can safely assume that your company is “big enough” to rise above the noise and 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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