We often hear from professional services businesses “We don’t really need to update our identity, we’re not a consumer brand”
Well yes and no.
Perhaps not in the traditional FMCG sense, but B2B businesses do need to give proper thought and consideration to brand as a key part of the business strategy. Effective B2B branding is not just about a logo on a page. Your business brand is the visual representation of your business positioning and the visual expression of your business reputation. McKinsey’s Forbes article ‘Why B2B branding matters more than you think’ states, “Like consumers, professional buyers use the vendor’s reputation as a short cut that reduces risk and simplifies the evaluation process.”
If anything, B2B brand is more important than in the consumer sphere, because it’s a more significant decision – this isn’t a £1.99 throwaway purchase – and there’s a lot more risk riding on your reputation, the buyers’ reputation to say the least.
“Decision makers are willing to pay a premium for strong brands because they aggregate information and reduce risk.”
To hear ‘brand’ and think ‘logo’ is a misunderstanding. It is much more than that, and should definitely be considered as more than just a last minute add-on or simple window dressing. It is a vital part of your business arsenal that allows clients, partners and suppliers to understand what your business represents, help your sales team to present confidently and professionally on-message and unite the whole company behind the same business message. Research business B2B International supports this thinking “Branding begins with the consistency of presentation that becomes the identity of a company… that customers and potential customers recognise and value.” It’s efficient shorthand for all that your business stands for.
The brand positioning must be reflected in all touchpoints, but it is the brand identity which is the core part of this, the tip of the metaphorical iceberg. The visible brand is supported by numerous hidden elements you don’t see, but the identity is the distinct expression of your brand. Furthermore as businesses seek to stand out and differentiate their offer, branding is a vital and efficient way to communicate this.
A strong brand is a valuable – and real – business asset. Again from McKinsey, B2B brands “that are perceived as strong generate a higher margin than others. In 2012, strong brands outperformed weak brands by 20 percent. Decision makers are willing to pay a premium for strong brands because …they aggregate information and reduce risk. Brands have a strong influence on purchase decisions.”
To underestimate the importance of branding is to undervalue the contribution it makes to your business in a very real way.