Why branding matters for B2B companies

Branding for B2B companies: How a well-defined brand can transform your business and create a point of difference

Chris Heile

Chief Strategy Officer

Friday, January 8, 2016

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Branding has always been one of those nebulous concepts in marketing that's hard for people to get their heads around. We see icons like Apple, Google, Starbucks and Nordstrom, and say...yes, branding is an incredibly powerful tool.

But in the business-to-business space, the concept of branding seems to beg more questions than answers. In fact, when you even mention brand to many B2B businesses, the hard questions start to fly:

"What exactly do you mean by brand?"
"What will it do for business?”
"Will it have any real impact on sales?”
“Why do I need a better logo?"

These are not surprising responses. After all, most B2B organizations are focused heavily on sales, so a softer concept, like branding, can be a tough sell to a B2B organization.

In truth, there are actually some very tactical and tangible benefits of branding for B2B companies. Branding’s greatest strength is its ability to create differentiation in a commoditized marketplace. And as it turns out, commoditization isn't just a consumer marketing problem. Virtually every B2B company competes with a growing list of increasingly smart and determined competitors who can match price, service and quality. Which means, in the minds of prospective customers, you and your competitors are all just slightly different shades of gray.

The new branding arena

It may be hard to admit, but many of your competitors are damn good at what they do. Just as good as you in some ways, and - dare we say - even better in others. So the fight has moved to a new arena, where the best product, service and price are simply table stakes. Now, looking smarter, being more innovative, hiring better people, building a stronger culture - these become the deal-makers. And guess what, these are also the key elements of branding.

Branding is not simply your image or logo; it is the practice of how you work in every aspect of your business. How you hire, how you inspire, how you communicate, how you innovate, how you respond to adversity, how your front-line and executive-level people work with each other and with your customers. Every one of these elements impacts the perceptions of your company. And for that reason, branding is every bit as important for B2B companies as it is for consumer-focused companies.

We have been fortunate enough to work with a long list of progressive and highly successful B2B brands that recognize the need to lead rather than follow, not just in how they look and feel, but how they operate, how they inspire their people and culture, how they build relationships with their customers. Our partnerships with these companies and their inspiring leadership has been transformative for their organizations, people, operations, sales, and, ultimately, their success. That’s because, branding in the B2B space is the great un-equalizer. When it’s done correctly, it transforms every aspect of an organization.

How do you know when it’s time to examine your brand? My recent post describes nine circles of “branding hell” — if your organization is in one of these circles, you should take a look at your brand.

Here are a few examples of the brands - in image, words and culture - that we are most proud to have been a part of. If you’d like to hear more, please contact us!

Vya

Vya, formerly known as Docustar, is a company that came to Intrinzic for help developing an inspiring new brand around their quickly evolving and fast-growing company. They had an amazing software product, great clients, great people, but needed a new brand, story and product architecture to help solidify what they had built. It was as important for their people and culture as it was for their customers and prospects.

We created a more contemporary and meaningful name and identity for the company, we developed an inspiring brand story and rollout strategies to help instill the new brand internally. This led to a revamping of every internal and external element of the company across its many levels of communication in the marketplace. The transformation has been amazing, inspiring and has changed how they go to market, how they sell their products, and most importantly, impacted the quality and level of companies they’re able to sell to.

Allan-Myeres-Intrinzic-Branding

Allan Myers

Allan Myers is a nearly billion-dollar construction company responsible for building the roads, bridges and pipelines that connect communities. Over the last few decades, the company grew to become the largest civil construction and materials company in the mid-Atlantic region. The organization possesses a rare sense of pride, determination and brotherhood that has led to its tremendous success.

Leadership came to Intrinzic at an important point in the company’s history. During its rapid growth, the 75-year-old company had acquired many new construction and materials companies across the region. This led to siloed business units and a long list of different corporate names and organizational cultures. As Allan Myers’ projects grew in scale, the company needed to unify as one organization, under one name.

Our collaboration and role with the rebranding of this company was broad and sweeping, including everything from extensive organizational cultural research, brand strategy development, brand story, naming, identity and logo development, and the implementation of the new name and brand across every single touch point. One of the most critical aspects of this new brand was the extensive brand rollout and training for more than 2,000 employees. This phase of the project was most important in making the new brand a true driver of the culture of the organization, impacting every aspect of customer experience, employee practices, training and evaluation, leadership and company events and internal/external communications.

American-Modern-Insurance-Intrinzic-Branding

American Modern

American Modern is one of the largest and most respected specialty insurance companies in the country. However, they believed that their brand felt out of sync with the vibrant and passionate culture of the great organization they had built.

American Modern came to Intrinzic to help create a unifying brand story and a image that would both capture and inspire their internal audiences as much as their agents and customers. It takes a special kind of company to open themselves up the way they did, and allow us to discover what really made this company - from top to bottom - work. It also took a lot of courage and belief in themselves to build a brand around who they were rather than try to chase what customers and agents might want them to be.

American Modern, like so many of our clients, had created an amazing culture, and they knew in their hearts that this culture and the unique passion of their people was the true point of difference in the marketplace. The resulting brand, reflected in design, image, words and pictures, everything the company was and worked tirelessly to be. And after an inspiring and emotional company-wide rollout and employee celebration, the people and the marketplace took notice.

The new American Modern brand has just launched, but its impact has already been felt by every employee and throughout all of the customer and agent relationships.

Join our B2B branding discussion. We'd love to hear from you.