What exactly is a brand? Most people understand that branding is the core of a company’s identity, but they would probably have trouble defining it specifically.
For most marketers, definitions of “brand” involve some combination of names, differentiation, visual identity, feelings, perceptions, attributes, and experiences. Brand identity is defined as the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.
At Hudson Fusion, we rely on varying tools, strategies and outside factors to define brands. We prioritize your voice and our ability to tell the stories of others to tell your target consumers how to identify you. No matter how our definitions vary, we can all agree that brands mean different things to different people at different times.
Why are brands important? Brands are business tools that drive measurable ROI. This impact can take various forms, including pricing power and brand equity. However, some B2B companies aren’t sure that branding is relevant to them. Some experts even claim that branding is unnecessary for B2B marketing and that B2B buying decisions are based only on functional decisions such as quality, cost, and availability.
However, some B2B companies aren’t sure that branding is relevant to them. Some experts even claim that branding is unnecessary for B2B marketing and that B2B buying decisions are based only on functional decisions such as quality, cost, and availability.
Whether or not your company has a branding strategy, your company has a brand. Customers, potential customers, employees, investors, and competitors—all of them have a perception of your company.
And you’re missing out if you aren’t tying to shape that perception.
What is your branding strategy, if you have one? Is it time to consider making your brand more of a priority for your company?
Should you consider investing in outsourced marketing? Here are the signs that now might be the right time.
You may be in business for a variety of reasons, like supplying incredible products or making the world a better place, turning a profit is almost certainly near the top of your list—and to make a profit, you need to sell something to your customers.
The search for the most effective ways to sell products and services is never-ending. When creating their marketing plans, many (if not most) B2B companies assume that price is the primary consideration and greatest indicator of value for potential customers.
Sure, it’s a fact that price drives B2C buying decisions, but that’s not necessarily the case for B2B. It turns out that brand is actually the most important factor for B2B buyers.
Brands are nebulous and appeal to the emotions, while B2B buying choices are mostly complex and rational.
B2B purchases tend to involve lots of decision-makers, long buying cycles, specific requirements, and high costs. Buyers not only look at the quality and features of the services or products they’re buying, but also their purchase’s long-term effects on their company, employees, and operations.
With so much at stake, buying from a well-known company can seem like a smart decision. It’s no wonder that companies often choose to buy from recognized brands over unknown ones. In fact, brands drive B2B sales to an even greater extent than they do B2C sales.
While rational considerations fuel B2B sales, your brand can benefit exponentially from using emotional messaging. B2B buyers may be more left-brain focused when considering an investment, but in order to land the sale, you have to resonate with the more emotive right-brain.
At this stage, customers are more likely to remember and feel positively about the brand, even when they are not actively looking to buy. In fact, for those not currently in the market for what your organization offers, emotional messages have approximately 2.5 times the power of rational branding.
Emotional messaging succeeds on more than one level. When we feel positively about a brand, we tend to evaluate its products or services more favorably, making us more likely to jump on a purchase.
forging an emotional connection between your brand and your buyers can drive both long-term and short-term results. But how emotional messaging is too much?
Surprise—you probably need to do more of it.
In other words, a full 50% of your marketing budget should be earmarked for emotion-based, long-term strategies, while the short-term tactics of strategy, website, advertising, digital marketing, trade shows, marketing alignment—and everything else—make up the remaining 50%.
Marketing activities need to both create demand and convert that demand into sales and revenue. When both types of activities balance each other out, you know you’re maximizing marketing efficiency.
Without customers, you have no revenue—and without revenue, you have no business. While it’s important to win new customers, it’s even more important to keep your existing ones.
Your brand needs to grab your potential customers attention. Making them aware of your brand is the first step in getting them to trust your brand. Even in B2B spaces, customers don’t buy from brands they don’t trust.
Once you’ve caught their eye, you need to find a way to make them create positive associations with your brand. (Think about how your company meets your customers’ needs. Show these leads what they’re missing out on!)
Commanding attention and showcasing your differentiators is only the first step. Once you’ve successfully gotten in their line of sight, find ways to connect your company’s brand values with your consumers to show them you understand who they are—and you know exactly how you can help.
Gaining new customers is only half the battle. Once you’ve earned their business, it’s even more important to convert new customers to returning customers, as it’s much easier and more profitable to sell to existing customers.
Getting a new customer costs 5x more than keeping an existing one.
Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.
Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products—and will spend 31% more—than new customers.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%, while the probability of selling to a new customer is 5% to 20%.
Keeping your existing customers isn’t always easy. B2B customers expect outstanding customer service along with excellent products and services.
So, what can you do to retain your customers and nurture long-term relationships with them? Focusing on onboarding, prioritizing your customers’ experience, providing a knowledge base, and listening to customer feedback ensuring your customers feel valued
Your branding can either help you or hurt you. If your brand is effective, it can help you win business and sustain customer relationships. On a competitor’s doorstep eventually.
Your brand impacts more than just your relationship with customers. It shapes your company’s relationship with your employees and potential hires.
Your brand can have a big influence on the talent your company is able to obtain and your ability to keep those employees once you hire them.
A strong brand can help you keep the employees you already have and reinforce their desire to stay at the company.
What are your consumers really putting their time and energy into these days? If we’re looking at a company whose values align with ours, who directs their operations in a way that reflects our own moral compass, we’re more likely to think positively of their brand.
75% of workers want to work for an organization whose brand messaging emphasizes charitable giving and local community support. Companies whose brand conveys a purposeful mission have attrition rates 49% lower than those with brands that don’t.
How much of a problem is employee turnover, anyway? The statistics are alarming. It turns out that turnover is both remarkably frequent and potentially expensive.
...that companies lose an average of 18% of their workforce every year? Also, employees who choose to leave their jobs make up approximately 13% of annual workplace turnover.
...that the annual turnover rate for high performers averages 3%? Companies at the top of their class have high-performer turnover rates close to zero, however.
...that the median number of years employees have been with their current employer is only 4.1 years?
...that it costs in the range of one-half to two times an employee’s salary to replace them?
*For example, replacing an employee with an annual salary of $90,000 can cost the company up to $180,000.
Categories are mortal, brands are immortal. Just because you’re at the top of your category today, that doesn’t mean you’ll be there tomorrow. Think about the fates of Borders, Blockbuster, and Compaq, along with so many other once-profitable companies that no longer exist.
Strong branding contributes to category optionality, or the ability for your brand to migrate to a different and possibly healthier category if needed. Even when categories decline or disappear, good branding can help a company make the successful transition to a new one.
Even if your category stays healthy, the world around it changes constantly. Your market may evolve, along with cultural values and your customers’ needs.
Rebranding, though an intensive process, may offer your company the opportunity to align the company’s identity with the new realities that surround it. It’s a chance to recalibrate what you want to communicate about your business and how you want it to be perceived.
Consider PepsiCo Inc.’s Aunt Jemima brand, which rebranded in 2021 to Pearl Milling Company. Although customers complained for years that the brand’s imagery was racist and insensitive, societal changes and racial unrest during the summer of 2020 finally led PepsiCo to make the leap and rebrand. They even decided to rebrand similar products with controversial packaging and brand names.
The effect on PepsiCo’s bottom line has yet to be determined. The cost of the rebrand might outweigh any gains from new or returning customers, and they could even lose customers and revenue. But they saw the writing on the wall and decided rebranding was necessary to try to save their product.
Rebranding can be expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. However, when it offers your company the opportunity to survive and maybe even to grow, it’s worth considering.
At the end of the day, how much of a difference can strong branding really make in your company’s growth and success? An influential 2012 study by McKinsey & Company suggests that strong brands make a significant impact on their companies’ overall performance.
Examples abound. The list of defunct B2B companies is long, and branding is only one contributing factor in their demise.
Many B2B businesses with strong branding remain highly successful. B2B mainstays Microsoft, Nvidia, IBM, Adobe, and Intel consistently rank among the most valuable global brands.
Even smaller B2B companies can reap the benefits of great branding. Proof 33, an online resource for craft distillers and brewers, worked closely with us to create a strong brand that
would appeal to their specialized audience.
As a result of their commitment to strong branding even before they launched their
e-Commerce website, they gained new customers and established strong revenue streams by distributing their brand across multiple channels.
If you’re now considering a greater investment in your branding, where should you start? How can you begin to create a better brand for your company?
Here at Hudson Fusion, we focus on three main factors when developing a brand identity. We’ve outlined a few steps you can take to start thinking through your branding and its role in building a successful marketing strategy.
Ask yourself who you are and why you’re in business. Asking the following questions can help:
What are you trying to accomplish and for whom?
What makes your company unique?
What’s your unique value proposition?
What’s your company’s personality?
How would you sum up the experience you want your customers to have in one word?
Figure out who your primary customers are, either by conducting market research or by looking back at your best customers. Think about how you are communicating your value to them.
Conduct a comprehensive audit of competitors in your market and find a way to stand out. Questions to ask yourself include:
What sets your business apart?
What experience do you offer that you can communicate through your brand identity that nobody else is using?
What makes your business something other than just one more company?
By now, you should know that your brand is one of your most valuable assets. By investing in branding, you’re investing in your company’s success. Whether your business is still in the developmental stages or you’re considering refreshing or strengthening your brand, we can help. Schedule a time to talk with one of our marketing experts about your branding strategy. We’d love to help take your company’s growth to the next level.
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