B2B_brand_storytellingThere is a misconception that brand storytelling falls mainly under the remit of B2C businesses. It’s simply not true. Not only can B2B businesses weave an intricate tale to engage professional audiences but they can often do so with more aplomb than their B2C counterparts.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are three exceptional examples of brand storytelling from B2B firms that will have you picking up the nearest biro and jotting down some ideas.

Cisco

Cisco designs, manufactures and sells networking equipment. You would be forgiven for thinking: ‘How can you possibly humanise a B2B brand whose central focus is highly technical products like VoIP services, hosted collaboration solutions and telepresence’?

Cisco newsroom

Welcome to newsroom.cisco.com, the firm’s online content platform which exhibits clear, accessible content for all readers – not just those well versed in technical jargon. Cisco knows it operates in a universe that isn’t going to tug at the heartstrings but by focusing on readers’ wider interest in technology, the internet and education, Cisco has created a medium that continues to bring back audiences in their droves.

So, how does Cisco constantly and consistently create quality content?

Cisco not only looks to its knowledgeable, authoritative staff for content but also taps up journalists from a variety of sectors. We’re all aware of the power of using journalists to create content and Cisco does this so well. Writers from the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Forbes, New York Times as well as freelance writers and University lecturers have all had a hand in building Cisco’s Newsroom to be an engaging, inspiring platform. As a result, Cisco doesn’t just drive traffic to their site; it has constructed a readership.

Deloitte

Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms, also creates an exceptional level of content.

The company asks us (as readers): “What’s your style when it comes to soaking up business knowledge? Do you prefer listening to podcasts on the way to work? Reading books? Watching videos on your laptop? Digging into research reports?

Deloitte

As a result, the firm produces its content for a number of formats. Newsletters, podcasts, feature pieces, guides…you name it, Deloitte has it.

Deloitte recognises that great storytelling remains at the heart of what brands do. Despite shifting landscapes and new media, delivering relevant, tailored content will remain a constant regardless of platform.

As a result, the firm follows four key points when creating a great story for the digital world:

  1. You need to know your audience.
  2. Your story needs a well-designed concept.
  3. Your goal is to inspire engagement.
  4. Quality execution is essential.

So, how has Deloitte put these points into practice?

A great part of their website is Deloitte Debates, a section dedicated to open-ended discussion between users. The page examines pressing issues (big data, performance management, cloud adoption to name but a few), makespoints and counter-points on the subject and lets experts and users debate the issue.

Here’s an example of one of their debates: Big Data and Listening Capabilities: Can They Deliver Strategic Intelligence?

Kind of a dry subject, right? Perhaps to us peons but let’s look back at Deloitte’s four points: “You need to know your audience.” They are creating prime content for their target market in a way that “inspires engagement” (see point 3). They’ve also executed their debate section in a way that makes it easier for the reader to consume; it reads as if it were a story, flowing from beginning to middle.

Beginning: the debate

Deloitte-debates

Middle: Expert opinion

_2Deloitte-debates

End: Your opinion

Deloitte-debates-3

However unlike a novel which has a clear ending, it leaves the conclusion wide open, ready for the audience to interpret and debate at their will. It’s a great concept that I’m a big fan of.

FireRock

Creating a great story doesn’t just revolve around written copy. Blogs, features and news articles clearly have their uses but sometimes, that might not be the right approach for your B2B business.

Let’s take a look at FireRock, a B2B manufacturer of pre-engineered masonry products for contractors and home builders. They are a much smaller business and certainly don’t possess the financial clout of Cisco and Deloitte. Furthermore, the issues surrounding the masonry industry are, it’s fair to say, few and far between.

However, this didn’t stop FireRock from becoming a great storytelling brand. Their strategy was to not focus on the raw materials they sell but fixate on the visually stunning end results. They wanted to tell a story about how their products begin at FireRock HQ and end as designs and projects for customers.

To meet this goal, FireRock use Pinterest.

Firerock

Not only do FireRock post some really beautiful stone fireplaces but these images are also captivating and engaging. Who knows what house builders and contractors can create with FireRock products? Something similar to the images on their Pinterest board, perhaps.

Not only does FireRock weave a great story with their images, they also know how to optimise Pinterest. Many of their pictures are tagged by location, so viewers searching by region can find their images easily. Users new to the platform have a lot to learn so it’s worth familiarising yourself with a How-To Pinterest guide before embarking into the Great Unknown.

FREE SEMINAR

If you’d like to learn more about brand storytelling, come along to our free seminar in London on 29th April – click here for details.

Brand Storytelling Invite London April 2014