How Branding Builds Successful B2Bs
What exactly is branding?
Note: If you are running cattle instead of a company, you can stop reading now.
Remember how the whole process of branding got started? It was a practical necessity in the Wild West, when cattle ranches would “brand” their cows with unique markings (essentially creating a logo) to communicate ownership. Because even to cowboys, every head of cattle in every herd looked pretty much the same. To distinguish one from another, to identify product, they branded. The system was simple, but it worked. It also demonstrated the value of developing a unique and consistent “brand” to distinguish products in a crowded marketplace.
But that was then. Today, what distinguishes one company from another isn’t just its logo. It’s everything that logo or trademark stands for; it’s everything people feel when they see that mark or think of the products and services it represents. Today, it’s all about the intangibles that your customer attributes to you (both good and bad). It’s every emotion they feel when they hear or see any piece of communication from or about your company.
How to sell a feel-good, $5 cup of coffee.
If you stopped for a coffee on your way to work this morning, you probably have a specific brand that you are loyal to, passing by the competitors to get to your special brew. And you probably paid at least $5 for that jolt of caffeine. In reality, everyone knows what a cup of coffee really costs. So why do we allow ourselves to pay so much more than the true value of those 8 ounces of coffee? It’s the perceived value, of course! That perceived value consists of many intangibles that aren’t inside the cup, but come right along for the ride: status, reputation, reliability, consistency, etc. And every one of those intangible points of difference is the product of good brand building.
The magic of pre-selling: How responsible branding increases the bottom line
Good branding doesn’t just make it possible to charge more for what you sell. And, it doesn’t just get more people to choose your company over your competition. A responsible, unwavering branding effort is a CFO’s dream.
Cost of Sales:
Good branding predisposes your customer to buy from you, no matter what you’re selling. So, you simply don’t have to work as hard for that sale. The customer already knows who you are and what you stand for, and trusts that you will keep your promises. That loyalty means that you just need to present your offer and tell them how much it will cost. So fewer words. Fewer pictures. Less space. Less frequency. The bottom line is you will get greater impact for every communication dollar spent.
Cost of Production:
Even new products are an easier sell. After all, you’ve already created a strong perception of value. So no matter what new area your company goes into, your reputation precedes you. This means less pre-selling, fewer steps in the selling process and more profitability sooner.
Cost of New Product Introduction:
Good, responsible branding also cuts operating costs. That’s because your employees know what your customers want and expect from you, making it easier for them to deliver on that promise. Your positive market recognition makes their job simpler, so they stay loyal longer, increasing retention. As a result, you don’t have to rehire and retrain people as often, decreasing expenses. And, of course, your brand image makes it easier to attract and hire the best talent when employees do leave.
No additional investment necessary.
We didn’t build our reputation by telling people to spend money they didn’t have. Instead, over the last 5 decades, we’ve been showing companies – both large and small – how to make every dollar they spend count. And as much as three, four and five times more than if they were making an unbranded expenditure. Think of it this way: Once you’ve taken the time to define yourself according to what makes you distinctly valuable to your customer base, everything else is forward momentum. Chances are you’re already spending money on sales and marketing materials. You’re already placing ads. You’ve already got a web and social media presence. Only now, everything you do will be consistent with your new self-definition. Everything will build on your claim of distinction. Everything will work toward one common image, with your distinct point of difference at its core.