I had a discussion with one of my friends the other day. She used to operate a residential cleaning service. She rebranded herself as a commercial cleaning company, because the money seemed better. She has discovered that there are more challenges than she expected, particularly related to branding.
The reality is that B2C companies must cater to a very different audience than B2B companies. They can’t replicate the same branding strategy. If you are running a B2B company, you should be aware of these common branding mistakes.
1. Overcomplicating Your Message
The most successful B2B companies have the simplest messages. Here are some slogans from them:
- P. Morgan – “The right relationship is everything.”
- General Electric – “We Bring Good Things to Life.”
- Fedex – “The World on Time.”
They all share one similarity – their messages are easy to follow.
B2B business owners often believe that they have a much more sophisticated client base than businesses that work exclusively with consumers. Therefore, they tend to use very complex branding messages that they think those will be more appealing to their clients.
First of all, you shouldn’t assume that your customers are more sophisticated simply because they own a business. Plenty of successful entrepreneurs are blue-color people without college degrees. If you use a verbose branding message, it can really turn them off.
Complex branding messages rarely work for any brand. The more complicated your message is, the more difficult it will be for your customers to follow it. Regardless of your customer base, you want to keep your message simple and to the point.
2. Failing to Audit Your Company’s Internal Marketing Strategy
As a B2B company, you can probably tell that some elements of your marketing strategy are working better than others. Unfortunately, it isn’t always clear what actions you need to take to turn things around.
You should conduct a regular audit of your company’s internal marketing strategy. Proteus Marketing on conducted an internal brand audit of Gordon Food Service and discovered they were spending about $250,000 on a regional trade show that wasn’t strengthening its brand.
You will probably notice that many of your branding tactics aren’t working either after running your own branding audit. You will be able to refunnel your resources into strategies that actually contribute to your branding message and bottom line.
3. Failing to Differentiate Yourself with Unique Logos
B2B customers are just as concerned about brand positioning as anyone else. You simply can’t do that without a logo, which you must use consistently. Your logo isn’t the focus of your brand, but it is the part of your brand that is most visible. Make sure it is on the labeling of all packages. You can use a labeling company if you need to.
4. Identify Your Target Market from the Very Beginning
Too many brands don’t know which market they want to focus on at the beginning. AJ Agrawal, a growth marketer and contributor to the Huffington Post, states many of his clients spend a lot of time testing different markets until they the ones that work.
There are a couple of problems with this approach:
- You can waste a lot of money spreading yourself too thin by focusing on so many different markets.
- You can damage your brand by trying to be all things to all people. This can make it harder to really focus on a single market down the road, since customers won’t be sure what you stand for.
You want to convey a consistent message from the very beginning, which means identifying and focusing on a single market.
5. Neglecting to Include Your Employees in the Branding Process
Your employees play a very important role in the future of your company’s branding strategy. This is arguably even more true with B2B companies, since your employees need to maintain long term relationships with your customers. Make sure every employee is trained to work closely with your customers.
Branding is Important for B2B Companies Too
Too many B2B companies think that they don’t have to focus as much on their brand, because they think customers make decisions on a more rational basis. This simply isn’t true. You need a strong brand to succeed in any market, so invest in making it as strong as possible.