Many people think that only B2C companies need to have a defined and invested in brand.  This is a huge mistake and can be a very costly one for B2B firms.  Branding is extremely important, regardless of who your customer is.

Most B2B companies play in a relatively crowded space.  Standing out in a crowd is not easy if you haven’t created a unique identity for yourself.  Your brand not only separates you from the pack, but it also creates your persona and makes you more relatable.  Keep in mind, at the end of the day you are still selling to a Consumer, even if it is a business to business transaction.  And Consumers (and businesses,) like to relate to the people they do business with.

In general, business buying decisions are more complex than Consumer purchases.  The cost is usually much greater, the purchase generally has multiple stakeholders and the decision time-frame tends to be much longer.  All of these are reasons why it is so important for your brand to be clearly defined, but also to be supported for the long-term.  Business buying decisions also tend to rely heavily on peer-to-peer reviews and endorsements, and if people can’t understand who you are and what you stand for, they’re much less likely to refer you to their peers.

The good news is, it is never too late to define (or re-define) your brand.  While it is best to work with experts on building your brand, there are some areas you can start to think about on your own.  Here are 3 Tips to get you started:

  • Customer insight – understand who your customer is and what their pain points really are.  Don’t assume that you know.  This may involve fielding third party research or conducting customer interviews to get the details you need.
  • Differentiate yourself – whether you have dozens of competitors or just one or two, you need to have clear points of differentiation.  Don’t just be a “me too”.  Your differentiation needs to be front and center and easy to understand.  Avoid using words like “better” or “simply” as these are not unique or descriptive.  Also avoid using product features to try to define your uniqueness.  Keep focusing on the end benefit to your customer and how your company impacts them.
  • Be true to who you are – everyone wants to be like Steve Jobs was, but don’t let your CEO get up on stage in a black turtleneck and jeans.  Define the core tenants of your company and personality, and always be authentic.  Trying to be someone you aren’t never works out well.  Be clear on your brand attributes and always strive to exemplify those.

Keep in mind, branding does not mean you have to spend a ton of money and run ads in the Wall Street Journal.  Start close to home.  Define your brand and make it consistent throughout your organization.  Utilize the properties you “own” – your website, twitter feed, LinkedIn page – to push out your messaging.  Consistency is the key.

Reach out and let me know who you think does great B2B branding at [email protected] .