No marketing practice has stood the test of time like branding. According to Wikipedia, the word “brand” is derived from the old Norse word “brandr” meaning “to burn” referring to the practice of burning your mark onto a product. Codes of arms were the symbol of royalty during the middle ages and wild west cowboys used brands to claim cattle.
But if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing you aren’t interested in wrangling steer or touting your chivalrous heritage. The question we are trying to answer today is: how important branding is for today’s b2b business?
The brand has expanded since cowboys and crossbows to something much larger. As Ruth Burr Reedy of BigWing Interactive put it so well: “If your customer is a fish, your brand is the water they swim through.”
- brand name
- editorial voice
- look and feel
- customer satisfaction
- and much more…
Anything that can affect the way people perceive or interact with your company is your brand.
How valuable is good branding?
While b2b companies don’t spend as much time in the lime light as b2c companies, branding is still an incredible important part of any company.
According to this Forbes article, Procter & Gamble, a $224.3 billion b2b company, owes 40% of it’s value to its brand. According to the same article Gardner Denver, another successful b2b company valued around $3.74 billion owes 43% of it’s value to its brand. These companies aren’t anomalies, branding drives value for b2b companies across the board. In 2012, strong brands outperformed weak brands by 20%, up 7% in 2011 (Forbes).
Despite its age, branding is only growing more valuable to b2b businesses.
How does branding work online?
A strong brand can also help a company be more effective at inbound marketing.
Check out this video from Moz’s Rand Fishkin on how a strong brand can help with SEO:
How do you build a good b2b brand?
Asking this question is a bit like asking how to build a good b2b business: the answer is extremely multifaceted. I’m actually not a brand strategist, but let me point you in some helpful directions:
- brand name: How To Name A Startup: The S.M.A.R.T. Checklist
- style guides (editorial voice, logo, colors, fonts, imagery, look and feel):
- Steel From These Style Guides. Your Content Will Thank You.
- The Internet Marketing Written Style Guide
- customer satisfaction: Is Your B2B Marketing Delighting Customers?
Humans are experts at associating meaning with symbols. Don’t believe me? See if you can read this:
“Rseaerch icntidaes taht the oerder of the ltteers in a wrod dnsoe’t relaly mettar. Waht relaly mtteras is the frist and lsat leettr in the wrod. If tehy are in the rhgit palce, you can raed the wdors.” (FastCompany)
Your brand will be the thing that creates positive or negative associations with your audience. Branding is one of the most foundational building blocks of human communication, and is indispensable to your b2b marketing.