Branding is tough, partly because it’s so intangible. It’s hard to point to exactly what constitutes a company’s brand, but you sort of know it when you see it. Think of Pepsi and Coke. Sure, their cans look different, but it’s deeper than that.
Their commercials, who they partner with, who they sponsor, it all just feels different. If you heard that Ariana Grande was partnering with Coke for a series of free concerts on college campuses, that would sound weird, right? That’s a Pepsi thing to do.
Having a stable, consistent, and unique brand is a vital component of any company. Without it, you blend into the crowd and your growth will be severely stunted.
What is a Brand?
First, let’s talk about what a brand actually is. The basic version of your brand is the colors, fonts, graphics, styles, and packaging that unify your company and product so that it all looks cohesive.
Behind that, though, think of a brand as your company’s personality. Is it playful or serious? Expensive or affordable? Exclusive or open to everyone? This image doesn’t just exist in your office — it’s how your customers think of you, for better or for worse.
Branding supersedes the number of interactions that a customer has with your company and creates loyalty, improved image, and a relatable identity. Customers will see you as more than just a commodity — you have a set of beliefs and values, and they’ll want to be involved with you because of them.
Branding in B2B
It would be excusable to think that branding is less important in B2B circles — you’re not trying to be friends, just sell someone what they need. That couldn’t be more wrong.
Over the last five years, B2B marketers have consistently cited brand awareness as their top goal — 89 percent even say it’s the most important goal, even over sales and lead generation.
Furthermore, B2B branding works better when it uses emotional rather than rational marketing messages — customers were more than twice as likely to consider a brand that provided personal value over one that provided business value — business values are hard to distinguish enough to be worth paying extra for.
The work you put into branding pays off, too — building an audience that’s sustainable in the long term is more valuable than direct sales, and B2B companies with strong brands generate a higher EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) profit margin than those without.
This may all come as a surprise in the seemingly analytical world of B2B marketing, but perhaps it shouldn’t. After all, customer acquisition is expensive — maintaining a loyal audience is much better for your business than trying to attract new business all the time. A solid brand gives your customers something to be loyal to — if the only reason they came on board was price, they’ll leave just as easily.
Using Branding to Maintain An Audience
Establishing your brand in a customer’s mind takes time. On average, you’ll need to make five to seven impressions on someone before they start to remember you, and brands that are presented with consistency are three to four times more likely to experience brand visibility than those that aren’t.
That consistency takes many forms, whether it’s color — according to the University of Loyola, color increases brand recognition by up to 80% — language, formatting, photography style, or broader shared values like cost-effectiveness, environmentalism, personal freedom, or whatever else a brand might embody.
In fact, 64% of consumers say that shared values are the number one reason they maintain a relationship with a brand.
How To Communicate Your Brand — and When Not To
It’s no secret that brands are making a big impact on social media — only 3% of people surveyed by Buzzstream said that they followed no brands on social media, and nearly half follow five or more.
These users value what the brands they follow have to say. 52% expect a brand to know when the right moments are to communicate, and 89% say that it matters which brand a piece of content came from. In fact, marketers are on the same page — 85% of them say that the main reason for creating content is to build the brand.
Associating your content with your brand is a winning strategy, or at least marketers think it is — 72% of them think branded content is more effective than magazine ads, 62% favor it over TV, and 69% rank its effectiveness higher than both direct mail and PR.
But don’t think you can just plaster your brand all over the internet at will — customers do have a breaking point, and they’re not afraid to show it. 48% of consumers expect brands to know them and to help them find new products that fit their needs.
If they don’t, they get kicked to the curb — 45% of consumers say they’ll unfollow a brand if their platform is dominated by self-promotion. Your content can’t just be about you — it has to be about the industry, the customer, their problems, your solutions, and anything else you think will be relevant and useful for your buyers.
So don’t let branding slip through the cracks! It’s easy to think of it as a waste of time and money to think about which fonts and colors better communicate your company’s personality, but it’s not. Having a coherent brand that makes sense won’t just attract more customers, it will keep them around longer.