To life, To love : B2B brand positioning and business development

Introduction

Like BtoC brands, BtoB brands face increasingly international and competitive markets. The bargaining power of customers, suppliers, the threat of substitute products, the intensity of competition are at the center of their concerns. How to survive and not slip on the rails of normality? How to differentiate yourself? Is there an answer in branding? 

A B2B brand image represents the values, identity, culture, and reputation of a business. It must also demonstrate its unique positioning in its market. In a strong competitive environment, your points of differentiation must be able to be achieved through your brand image: the message conveyed, offer, capacity for innovation.

How to define a branding?

 Vision

This is the brand’s view of its business, its sector, and the reality of its market now and in the future. The vision sets the scene in which the company will have to stage its medium / long-term expertise to achieve its objectives.

The mission

This is the specific objective it sets for itself in relation to its priority target, the means implemented concretely to accomplish its project. This is where the raison d’être and the societal impact are expressed.

The promise

It offers the value of the brand’s own experience, fixed and concrete, it describes an exclusive process or any other specific and indisputable characteristic of the product or service provided. It helps meet the needs of your customers. Its most synthetic expression is the brand signature.

Values

We can distinguish those which tell the story of the company, which reflect the motivation of employees on a daily basis, their convictions and those which tell the story of the brand, which reflect what we want customers to think of us.

They come in the form of a list of words that form the basis of the company’s culture, its source of inspiration.

The style

It is the brand’s personality, everything that is immediately perceptible on the surface and specific to it (graphic, verbal (or tone of voice) and sound). This is what reflects its positioning and is in line with the values it claims. This point of the brand platform usually opens up another strategic topic: the creation of a brand identity.

Build a brand support

It is a very special moment in the life of the company, a kind of group psychotherapy where listening has a fundamental place. In fact, it is very common to see organizations, large or small, the different poles of activity each working in their own corner, in « silo » mode. The strategies decided by management are often poorly understood and everyone develops a very personal vision of their business, or even none at all.

At the source of this problem, there is often a lack of internal communication actions or change management program to get all employees on board in the same direction.

Building a brand platform is therefore above all a great opportunity for general management to renew the dialogue with its employees and forge links between them. It’s fair to say that the internal exchange work required to build the brand platform is potentially more important than the platform itself. This of course in terms of corporate cult

 Understand the brand’s environment

Customer interviews

They speak directly and provide an objective view of the quality of service and their perception of the company’s marketing identity. There are two types of customer interviews:

The qualitative interview

It is on average between 30 minutes and 1 hour of privileged exchanges with a minimum of 5 clients. Topics such as: respondent profile, commercial relationship (origin / quality), perception of the positioning of the offer, brand vision (strengths / weaknesses), expectations, etc.

An interview protocol is never identical from one subject to another, the industry, the product, the service, the size of the company, etc. are all parameters that influence the type of information to be collected .

The quantitative interview

It is a form-type protocol sent to a broad base of contacts, clients or former clients. The response time should not exceed 5 minutes. The topics covered are the same as for the qualitative interview with the difference that the questions are closed and the answers quantifiable, for example: 64% of respondents think that the service meets their expectations perfectly, etc. Solutions such as Googleform or Typeform are perfectly suited for this type of exercise.

The competitive benchmark

Essential in positioning work, it also helps foster exchanges with employees who will be required to participate in internal workshops. A benchmark must obviously make it possible to analyze direct competition, but it is also important to open the field of exploration to players a little further away.

 Perform a brand audit

The collaborative workshop

The challenge: to bring managers and operational staff around the table to discuss subjects such as: the history of the company, the commercial offer, the targets, the marketing, the competition (use the elements of the benchmark previously carried out) , the brand, its messages, its iconography, its logo, strengths, weaknesses… It may be necessary to carry out several workshops depending on the size of the organization chart.

Management interviews

As with qualitative client interviews, face-to-face interviews with managers allow a detailed discussion of the company’s development strategy. This step is fundamental because, as final decision-makers, their support must be total, as their vision is often out of step with the vision of the operational staff.

 Write a brand platform

The art of the pen

The writing phase, a real work of synthesis of everything that will have been exchanged for long hours, is a creative exercise where each word used must be useful, meaningful and above all build the brand’s new imagination.

Even so, a good copywriter will not be enough. The more the person in charge of this part of the project has been involved from the start, the more relevant the result will be. The strategic planner is often ideal for building a brand platform.

Storytelling

Writing down the vision, mission, brand signature or values, is actually not the most complex part. In reality, the hardest part will be to convince the manager and the employees that these words are the right ones!

Using a maximum of verbatim from workshops or interviews legitimizes the proposed strategy. One idea has to lead to another so that in the end, like the highlight of the show, it suggests that the solution was right there, within the company, and it just had to be brought out. A good branding platform seems obvious.

Distribute a brand platform

Building a brand platform without deploying a high-performance device for its dissemination and the support of priority audiences is a big mistake. Building an internal and external communication plan will make it possible to capitalize on this new strategic tool over the long term.

Internal membership or onboarding strategy

The company’s employees are the primary promoters of the new brand message. Their support is fundamental. Setting up an onboarding strategy to explain the process, retrace the history of the project, the company, present the people, the departments involved and of course the platform itself are all levers for getting them on board.

Conclusion 

It is possible to make a technical brand as attractive and engaging as in B2C. The key is to capture the attention of your target by providing personalized and attractive content. The idea is to create a positive break in order to emerge better. To revolutionize the uses and somewhat rigid codes of an expert sector, to create an entertaining, engaging and creative universe. You have to find an innovative way to provide new answers. This will translate into disruptive communication, capable of capturing attention. This type of approach, very adapted to the digital world and its virality, has the effect of quickly federating a community.

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