Daniel Owen is CEO of B2B marketing agency, The Armstrong Partnership.
Iconic brands need no introduction. They’re household names all over the world – and they require a marketing powerhouse to build and maintain.
Many of the principles of consumer brand building apply to B2B marketing. With the ever-increasing drive toward digital, more and more we’re seeing industrial brands sharing the same space as consumer brands. Therefore it’s vital for b2b brands to carve out a clear identity, present your messages well and engage with your target audiences effectively.
I have over 14 years of experience in advising global B2B brands on how to best present their business and brand to either challenge for position as market leader or fulfil their position as market leader in their field. I’ve worked with industrial brands in various sectors, from glass through to building materials, to help them achieve this. These are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
- Understand who you are
All brands must have a clear understanding of who they are, what they stand for and what makes them different. This is never truer than in B2B sectors, particularly industrial brands, where there may only be a handful of competitors and it is therefore even more important to differentiate your brand in order to increase market share.
B2B marketers must strive to crystallise their brand’s proposition, taking the time to drill down into each layer. This, in turn, will lead them to create a considered identity – this is imperative for successful marketing.
A considered brand identity is all too rare in B2B marketing, there are far too many ‘me to’ brands that do not seek out their unique selling proposition. It is paramount for any company – no matter how narrow their competitor landscape – to achieve a unique proposition.
A brand identity that is well crafted and understood acts as a reference for business and marketing decisions. It makes decision making quicker, ensures your business stays on track and that your efforts are representative of your brand. For new employees, new customers and new suppliers, a clear brand identity makes it easier for them to associate themselves with your company and align to your vision.
- Increase your visibility
Every industry has embraced the drive for digital presence. The speed in which we all want to digest information means it is critical to have a healthy presence on social media, industry platforms, search engines and online events.
This change in approach is often hard to adapt to for more reserved and traditional industries. Many B2B brands have a great sense of humility and don’t want to appear to be overstating their position. But there is a balance. Informative and well-crafted content is hugely important for industrial sectors as a whole and market leaders have a duty to increase their contribution to nourish their industry with informative content.
Industry forums and networks are where your competitors and customers are – they’re also where you can build visibility with young talent. You absolutely must be part of the conversation if you’re aiming to take your brand to the next level and attract talented individuals that can help you get there.
- Present yourself effectively
In order to become a leader in your field, you need to work with people that can help you hone the craft of proper brand representation, with a shared desire to seek better ways to present your technology and your service to the outside world. Again, many areas of B2B marketing are behind B2C brands when it comes to embracing different channels and neatly conveying a message.
We live in an information age and customers want immediacy. That means that in many cases you have a few crucial minutes to make your pitch, so invest time to refine your messaging to really make it count.
Brands should also consider the formats they’re using for marketing – make use of film, animations, digital platforms, social media and more in order to reflect changing customer preferences.
In many B2B sectors, the real cutting-edge work being done now is around automation. Because this process can’t be seen, marketers need to think outside the box to find ways to demonstrate their brand’s achievements. Animation, 3D effects and slick graphics are a great way to do this – but they must sit within your brand identity and form part of your overall storytelling narrative.
- Think post-Covid
B2B marketing has traditionally been very reliant on face-to-face events like conferences, exhibitions and product launch events. Covid-19 stopped that overnight and forced brands to explore virtual marketing opportunities. All the evidence points to this remaining a key part of the marketing mix as we move into a post-pandemic world.
Many big firms want to capitalise on the travel and exhibition savings made in 2020, as well as reducing their business’ carbon footprint, so maintaining a digital first approach will remain high on the agenda. The key is to work out how your brand can maintain a presence with customers it is not seeing as regularly.
- Watch the market
In order for any brand to become a leader in its sector, it must have an eye on the market. Only by pre-empting change, monitoring wider industry trends and keeping customer experience front of mind, can a brand create the building blocks required to become an icon in its area.
Armstrong works with leading global industrial vehicle, glass and building materials businesses to develop impactful brand strategies that put them a step ahead of their competitors.