Strong brands outperform their competitors.
A report from Morning Consult shows that Brand Love is a key indicator of financial performance: there is a 49 point gap in net purchasing consideration between 2020’s Most Loved Brands and all other brands. And the biggest gainers in 2020 are tech brands, with Zoom leading the trend.
Somehow, we understand that people select their shampoo based on brand, but we don’t believe it to be true when selecting software for our company. Surely B2B buyers don’t care about brands, surely they make rational choices based on features and price and make the decision that provides the most value to their company, right?
In reality, B2B buyers are even more sensitive to brands than consumers! I know this is especially shocking for people who work in tech, or finance, or healthcare – your product is complex, technical, and provides great, measurable results.
And you think that’s why people buy it.
Well, guess what?
Your biggest differentiator is your brand.
It’s the only thing your competitors can’t copy, it’s the only thing that you can make truly yours. Let’s see why it matters so much.
1. Reducing risk. Think credibility and trust.
Making a B2B purchase decision is HARD.
First of all, you have to acknowledge that there’s a problem. That means you have to show weakness to your colleagues, to your manager, to your team. Then you have to make a big decision. B2B purchases are always expensive, because budgets are always tight. You might create conflict and if you make the wrong decision, you might lose some status. You might even lose your job!
The stakes are very high!
You also have to deal with complexity. The various solutions you are considering for purchase are probably all very sophisticated, and only a little bit different.
As consumers, we rely on brands to help to reduce uncertainty, complexity, and risk, providing clarity for the smallest and the biggest purchase decisions. As B2B buyers, well – we do just the same!
2. Standing out from the crowd. Get noticed and remembered.
You’ve probably heard this quote before: “Your brand is what your customers say about you when you are not in the room.” It’s your reputation.
A strong brand is one that people remember, that makes an impression on them. A strong brand will come to mind, spontaneously, when customers need to solve a problem.
Think of any B2B event, conference, or trade show that you’ve been to. Which companies truly stood out? Which ones did you still remember days a few days after the event? I bet it wasn’t the ones with the best product or the most compelling ROI calculation! Iit was that one company that was brave enough to say “this is how it’s usually done, but we’re doing it this different way” and had the strong design to get that message across. It was the one that provided the most memorable experience.
Daring to have a ‘brave’ brand means having the confidence to be different…and not being afraid to shout about it.
3. Increasing customer loyalty. Turn customers into a community of fans.
People come back to what they know. They remember the brand that connects with them and the way they see the world. It’s easy to forget – particularly in the B2B world – that the people making the purchasing decisions are still people. And people make decisions on an emotional level.
A brave brand can turn customers into brand advocates. Connection and loyalty can get strong enough that your customers become your biggest fans – literally promoting your product for free. This is crucial. Research from Trustpilot shows that ‘social proof’ (i.e. recommendations from peers) increased the chance of purchasing for ⅔ of consumers.
The ultimate example is when brands become the catalyst for communities. Loyal customers are engaged, and feel valued, while companies build stronger relationships and get valuable feedback. This can only happen when the brand becomes bigger than the company itself.
4. Building an ecosystem – from investors to partners.
The power of a brave brand creates its own momentum, attracting new customers, strengthening the bonds with existing ones, and making a company an attractive prospect for investors. Brand equity is now often seen as a critical marker for continuing growth.
In Silicon Valley, creating visibility around your brand is becoming a must. Just look at the billboards along the 101 freeway and you’ll see the brands that have made it, the ones that are literally part of the landscape.
Your brave brand has a personality that makes people want to work with you, be near you, be associated with you. That’s the desirability that you create – an ecosystem where partners want to be connected to you because they see the attraction your brand has for their audience. They want to be seen hanging out with you!
5. Acquire and retain the best talent
A truly brave brand drives more than just sales. It helps facilitate talent acquisition, boosts employee morale, and drives productivity.
People don’t want to just work for a company, they want to work for an idea. They want to belong to this great company. They want that positive reaction when they meet people and tell them who they work for that says “oh, really? That must be great!”. By way of example, a strong employer brand leads to 50% more qualified applicants to a job.
It’s your employer branding, the illustration of your values and what people want to be associated with. It creates cohesion in the company. The more people are happy to work there, the better the work they do…it’s a win-win situation for both company and employees.
A strong brand sets you apart. When I’m talking about your brand, I’m not just talking about your visual identity and logo but also your raison d’être, your story, your soul, and the consistency of your brand across all touchpoints. It’s hard work but has a huge pay off.
And the good news is that in B2B not that many companies dare to be different.
So why are you waiting? Become that brave brand that will surpass all others!
About the author
Gwen Lafage is the General Manager Europe of Sköna, a full-service b2b creative agency with offices in San Francisco and Stockholm. Brand strategist, b2b marketing expert and globe trotter, Gwen has 20 years experience in marketing and advertising in London, Paris, San Francisco and Stockholm, that she currently calls home.