Three key takeaways on how to build a strong B2B Brand

A talk with Senior Consultant, Phillip Jein.

How do you establish a strong B2B brand with a global brand platform, capable of handling future growth? Here are three key takes on how to succeed with B2B brand strategy in 2019.

Branding strategy in the B2B-segment is rapidly changing. With new and increasing demands from the modern B2B buyer, stemming from trends such as increasing digitalization, a growing number of customer touchpoints and developing technologies, many B2B companies are facing complex, new challenges.

Phillip Jein, Senior Consultant at Sunrise, recently spoke about the new world of B2B marketing at the B2B Marketing: The Conference 2019, a conference in collaboration with Dansk Markedsføring. We asked Phillip to define his three key takes on how to succeed with B2B brand strategy:

Key take 1: Cutting through the ‘profile clutter’
Many mid-sized B2B companies have small marketing departments, often not consisting of more than a handful of people. They tend to spend the bulk of their time on day-to-day operations, organizing exhibitions and developing sales material and content.

As a result, many B2B companies have a hard time synchronizing their long-term marketing strategy and day-to-day business. This runs the risk of making your brand’s communication boringly predictable, with a narrow focus on only the rational product benefits.

In various segments and industries, a large part of the market often falls into this exact pitfall – or the “profile clutter” as we like to call it. Here, the industry’s communication converges and companies stay in the same “comfort zone”. The focus lies on expected, core ‘hygiene-parameters’ – with little to no noteworthy differentiation, which often results in price-centered competition.

So how do you avoid this? You need to prioritize a strategic marketing process that will force you to look at your company, industry, and competitors from the outside-in. This will enable you to discover your true brand identity, create relevance with your target audiences, provide meaning for your employees and differentiate you in your market. In recent years, we’ve really seen a surge in B2B companies prioritizing to seek out their brand’s unique value proposition.

Key take 2: Create a movement – building your brand from withinWhen companies work on defining their differentiating brand position or their “purpose”, they sometimes tend to view it as only an external exercise of establishing and cementing that position and identity in the customer’s mind. However, it is important to remember that the foundation of a successful go-to-market strategy starts and ends with a company’s employees.

The importance of implementing the brand position within the organization cannot be emphasized enough. This is especially important in B2B companies, where your employees, and especially the sales team, are one of the most crucial day-to-day touchpoints for both existing and potential customers, making them essential ‘brand ambassadors’.

The brand platform should permeate the entire company, so it not only remains an external value proposition, but also becomes an internal promise that every employee buys in to, contributes to, and lives by. Recently working with one of the largest Danish pension funds on their branding strategy, this effort was prioritized as much like any other traditional marketing effort – effectively contributing to the internal understanding, motivation and overall commitment to the new direction.

Without constantly working to connect and align the external position you’re trying to establish with the internal culture, values, and actions, companies can miss out on significant synergies and risk the external efforts never reaching their potential heights and effects.

Key take 3: Experiment with the abstract

Phillip’s last take is more of an appeal. It’s about how to prioritize your branding and marketing efforts.

Within marketing, the debate between data and creativity is common and generally, the world is moving towards being more data-driven. Economic, rational and logical arguments are often chosen over intuition, judgment, and experience.

That’s especially true for the corporate world, where increasingly bureaucratic structures emphasize people’s need and ability to defend and back-track their actions and decisions (“nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”). But if everybody is tracking and optimizing against the same customer data – are we missing out on innovative ideas?

Advertising and branding are essentially about lifting products, services, and people to more than the sum of their individual parts – combining and establishing emotional, social and functional value. It’s about trying to create a bit of magic – but this appreciation is sometimes lost – and the need for logic and rationalization is prioritized before a great new idea. “Therefore,” says Phillip “it’s always a pleasure to work with brands like Universal Robots, who put a good portion of playfulness into their expression.“

Phillip continues:

“One last thing to consider in this regard; a McKinsey Global Institute study from 2017 (A Future that Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity) estimates  “that 49 percent of the activities that people are paid to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technology”, effectively meaning that what we as marketers do today, that is structured, repeatable or predictable will be automated.

So my last appeal to marketers is to dare to stand up against the confines of rationality, logic, and data. Use your expertise, imagination, and psychological insights to “run experiments” with just a fraction of your budget each year. And place a bet on your own judgement.”

Want to know more about B2B brand strategy?
Contact Senior Consultant Phillip Jein, +45 25 48 93 18, pj@sunrise.dk, or download our report on CMO challenges and agendas.

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